- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2015

NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel said Friday that military officials believe U.S. allies in the Middle East no longer trust the Obama administration with sensitive intelligence information.

Mr. Engel was asked to explain the complexity U.S. foreign policy as it pertains to Iran and its effect on diplomacy in the region.

The Obama administration is fighting Iran-backed actors in the Middle East while backing others — sometimes within the same country — all while trying to negotiate a deal on its nuclear program before the end of the month. The U.S. also backs Saudi Arabia’s strikes on Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen, although officials were caught flat-footed on the Arab nation’s decision.

“Well, if you look at the timing of the strike in Yemen, I think it reveals a lot about the negotiations. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab countries didn’t consult extensively with the U.S. military. I know several people in the U.S. military who were taken by surprised by this. Senior officials who would have been expected to know that there was going to be an operation in Yemen — they didn’t,” Mr. Engel said from Turkey.

The correspondent said many officials were finding out about Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen “in real time.”

“[Military officials] believe, and some U.S. members of Congress believe, that the reason Saudi Arabia and other states didn’t tell the U.S. that it was going to launch this war against Shiite-backed or Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen is because 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 and make a deal in Switzerland and therefore didn’t feel that the intelligence frankly would be secure,” Mr. Engel added, The Washington Free Beacon reported Friday.

SEE ALSO: Iran-backed militia given intelligence files on U.S. counterterrorism operations in Yemen

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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