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NBC’s Richard Engel reported Friday that U.S. officials were stunned they were not given any notice before Saudi Arabia launched attacks against Houthi rebels. According to Engel, military leaders were finding out about the developments on the Yemen border in real time.
Engel said officials from both the military and members of Congress believe they were not given advanced warning because the Arab nations do not trust the Obama administration after they befriended Iran.
“Saudi Arabia and other countries simply don’t trust the United States any more, don’t trust this administration, think the administration is working to befriend Iran to try to make a deal in Switzerland, and therefore didn’t feel the intelligence frankly would be secure. And I think that’s a situation that is quite troubling for U.S. foreign policy,” Engel said.
This is hardly the first time the U.S. has been caught off guard with the shifting dynamics in the Middle East as a result ofAmerica’s retreating role in the region. Just over one month ago, Egypt launched strikes against the Islamic State compounds in Libya, avenging the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians, without coordinating with the administration.
The White House has faced repeated criticism that it has a “reactive” foreign policy unable to anticipate conflicts. The U.S. was flat footed during the Arab Spring and still struggles to identify the political players in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Oman, and Egypt.
Many experts said they worry the Iran negotiations have done irreversible damage to the U.S.’s relationship with Israel and Sunni Arab nations. A lack of intelligence sharing and communication because these nations fear the U.S. might leak sensitive information to Iran could cause incalculable harm.
The negotiation, itself, has drawn rebuke from members of Obama’s own party as troubling details emerge of U.S. concessions. A deal with Iran may only embolden the rogue nation that is funding terrorism and chaos in the Middle East to continue their expanding influence over the region.
“So there are many people who I have spoken to, many in the military, many policy analysts who say what we are seeing here is incoherent policy regarding not just Iran, but regarding the middle east in general,” Engel said.