NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel mocked the fighting going on Tuesday as Sunni and Shia forces try to push back against ISIS in Ramadi.
In a rare stateside interview with MSNBC’s Tamron Hall, Engel called the idea of Sunni and Shia forces battling the Islamic terror group “laughable,” adding that it’s “like trying to put out a fire with gasoline.”
Engel didn’t stop there, telling the host it’s a “recipe for disaster” for the two factions to fight against ISIS in the battleground city (which happens to be a Sunni town) that is only 80 miles from Baghdad.
“The Iraqi government is not being effective so far in its campaign to fight against ISIS. The Iraqi army has collapsed now twice. First it collapsed in Mosul which helped create this whole ISIS problem in Iraq, and now it collapsed again in Ramadi,” Engel said.
“So, who’s coming in to try and liberate the city? It is a combination of Sunni and Shia militias. Sunni and Shia militas that generally hate each other, have different opinions for what should happen to Ramadi once ISIS is pushed out of it,” Engel told the host. “This could be incredibly problematic. I think there’s a real question here about whether this is going to work or not.”
In response to the situation, Hall told the foreign correspondent it’s almost hard for her to fathom what’s going on in the area, adding that it “gave me pause as if this was accurate information.”
“It’s almost a laughable strategy, frankly,” Engel said. “Richard Haas a couple of days ago said it’s like trying to put out a fire with gasoline. You’re sending in competing militias to fight against a radical group in a city 80 miles from Baghdad.”
“Just to give you an idea of how problematic this could be– the Shia militias, who (by the way) are much, much stronger than the Sunni militias, and Ramadi is a Sunni town, so the Shia militias are going in under the banner, their campaign… their military campaign is in the service of Hussein which is a Shia martyr from the earliest days of Islam,” Engel explained. “So if you’re a Sunni in Ramadi, that is not encouraging news to see the Shia militias, the Iranian-backed militias coming your way under a very sectarian slogan to fight against a radical group.”
“It is a recipe for disaster,” he added.