tv Cuomo Prime Time CNN January 7, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
this is cnn breaking news. >> hello, and welcome to our viewers in the united states and all around the world. i'm michael holmes. continuing the breaking news coverage of the iranian missile strikes on u.s. forces in iraq. let's get to what we know. the pentagon says iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles at bases housing u.s. troops. missiles hit the al assad air base and also a base in erbil as
well, in kurdstan. iran's foreign minister calls it a proportionate response, days after the u.s. strike that took out qassem soleimani. and iran's foreign minister saying, if they hit, they get hit back. >> he knows if they get involved in a confrontation with us, they will get trapped. they may harm us, but they will harm themselves many times more, and they realize that. >> the u.s. secretaries of state and defense briefed president trump late on tuesday. president trump later tweeting, all is well. and said he would make a statement on wednesday. and in the midst of all of this, qassem soleimani was laid to rest on wednesday morning local time hours later than initially
planned. due in part to a stampede that happened at the massive funeral procession which reportedly killed at least 56 people. we have correspondents all across the region and in the united states. ryan brown at the defense department, ramin is in tehran, nick robertson joins us from riyadh and nick paton walsh is in beirut. let's start with you in baghdad, again, iraq finds itself in a battle it's not part of, but they're the battlefield. what's the take where you are? >> that's been the concern, that's what we're hearing from
iraqi officials, caught between the two allies. they said they've been worried about how things have been unfolding over the past few months as tensions rose between iran and the united states. now we heard from the iraqi prime minister just a few days ago saying that they've been left with no option at this point but to ask u.s. forces to leave the country. you had that parliamentary vote, looking at ways to ask u.s. forces to leave, because they're concerned it's not only tensions now. this is turning into a c confrontation, and they're worried their country will become a battlefield, iraq once again the place where world powers settle scores and they'll pay the price. we haven't been able to reach
iraqi officials, but we know everyone here is on a state of high al we've been told by a military official that u.s. and iraqi forces are actively patrolling around their bases. there's, of course, they're patrolling the skies with drones and attack helicopters. our team a short time ago saw an ac-130 attack gunship over baghdad, which includes the green zone, michael. >> thanks so much, there on the spot in baghdad. let's go to jeremy diamond in washington. no address to the nation, as was initially thought earlier on. but there was a tweet. what are we to make of it? what could tomorrow bring? >> there was indeed a tweet. and the bellicose rhetoric from the president in recent days after the strike that he ordered, killing qassem soleimani, now we see from the
president, all is well. so far, so good. an optimistic tone, it appears, from the president in the wake of this iranian retaliation. a dozen missiles that struck two bases housing u.s. troops in iraq. the president, though, from that tweet, you can tell he's clearly focused on this issue of casualties. making clear that that casualty and damage assessment is still under way. but saying so far, it appears to be so good. the president did draw this red line as it relates to iranian retaliation. he wasn't just talking about american casualties. he said if iran targeted american interests in the region, that would warrant this massive american military retaliation, which the president has been threatening for a couple of days. for now, it appears the president is holding off.
he did tee up an address to the nation tomorrow, when he will be making a statement wednesday morning. michael? >> jeremy, thanks so much. let's stay in d.c. and go to the pentagon, where we'll find ryan brown. and the president did say if iran attacks an american base or any american, we will be sending some of that brand new, beautiful equipment their way without hesitation. this did sound like a red line. a base was hit. what is the posture at the pentagon? >> it's an interesting question. the pentagon had been ramping up its military presence there for months, ever since the initial iranian-linked efforts in the strait of hormuz, so they're already fairly postured to respond if ordered. there's no sign of any kind of
response initiated at this point in time. we're told troops had some advance warning prior to the launching of these missiles, prior to them striking the base. they were able to take cover in time. we're also told the missiles struck areas of the base that are not typically holding u.s. forces. not clear whether that was intentional or not. but as of right now, we don't believe there was any shift in the u.s. military's position. given the buildup in the recent weeks and months, it could do something very quickly if so ordered. >> ryan, thanks so much. i want to go now to tehran, and speak with ramin, who is there. and some people are seeing this as a measured response, that iran made its point. sent a message, and wants this to end. what is your sense?
>> the high-ranking officials say it was a proportionate operation. tit for tat. from their perspective, there's no motivation to go further. but the general, the head of armed staff, said that if america tries to go further and do something wickedness, then there will be more of a crushing response to that. at this moment, they are trying to make sure there will be no more reciprocity. that's the last one according to them.
it was a harsh response, let's announce it, it's the end of the game. so in this part of the world, at least in tehran, we don't hear anything like bellicose rhetoric anymore. they just want to jubilate this what they call a victory. their own harsh response to the american wickedness, as they say. that's it, michael. >> and they say if the u.s. responds to this, they will respond as well. thank you. nick robertson, in riyadh. these missiles, they came from iran, not from a proxy. they weren't looking for plausible deniability. is it your sense from the iranian targeting and the trump reaction so far, there's room for everyone to step back? >> the iranians are creating an off-ramp for sure in the
tensions. that's what we've just heard from a reporter in tehran. look at the facts on the ground. at the air base in the past, it's one of the most remote of the air bases the united states uses in iraq. remote from civilian populations. also a massive, sprawling base. if you're in tehran and you're calculating that you want to hit somewhere, and you want to avoid actually creating big u.s. casualties, an large air base like al assad is a good one to use. it's remote from civilian populations, and a relatively safe target. nevertheless, it sends a very big message to the region here. this is how it will be read in riyadh and some of the other capitals in the gulf. iran under sanctions has been able to build these sophisticated, long-range
ballistic missiles that it feels c confident of throwing many hundreds of miles into this air base. on the calculation, they're not going to massively anger the united states into responding by inflicting large u.s. casualties. so the message will be one that has not been seen in the region before, iran firing the ballistic missiles. that will be a very clear message, they've been able to build these, and they're able and capable to use them. but it does seem like an off-ramp is being created here. but the ball is now in president trump's hands to play back and so far he doesn't look like he's going to smash the ball back in their court. >> very good point, showing capabilities under sanction. nick, thanks so much.
and joining me from los angeles, dahlia, and from california, lieutenant general mark hurtley. dahlia, speak to the circumstance that this was direct from irani territory, a very direct message. >> yeah, i think it's quite significant. this is a major escalation, it's now a direct u.s./iranian military conflict, even though it's taking place in iraq. iraqi officials will likely be paying the cost for this. but it's a step in the escalation pattern we've been seeing since the summer. and it raises the cost and it's concerning in the ability to de-escalate. >> there was a comparatively
calm tweet from the president we were just discussing. all is well, missiles launched from iran at two military bases in iraq. assessment taking place right now, so far, so good. and we have the best military in the world. mark, only a couple of days ago, the president was saying if iraq attacks any american or american base, we'll be sending some of that beautiful new equipment their way. it sounds like a red line. but is he stepping back with that latest tweet? what is your take? >> it's pretty obvious he's stepping back. the other thing i would point out, all is not well for the iraqis or the kurdish elements within iraq, who have both have bases hit within their area. this is sending a message by the
iranians, not only to the united states, but to others who will contribute to the united states actions, on any attack against iran. this is the first tranche, it's an opportunity for both sides to do some analysis and perhaps step back. it may even be an opportunity for the united states to start diplomatic actions with iran. but it puts the iraqi government in a very difficult position, from my view. >> and tehran says it's a warning. they'll launch more attacks if the u.s. retaliates. it's a risky cycle, isn't it. >> yes, and when you look at the potential for iranian action, it
is both overt and in some cases very nuanced and covert. they start with a tranche of 12 missiles, and if the backing down doesn't occur now, theyhav use, as certainly we do as well, the united states does, to begin a proxy war within the area of the middle east and beyond. there is the potential not only for direction action by iran, but by their proxies in the middle east. there are at least eight where they can use military forces beholden to iran. but there's also the continued problem with the potential for asymmetric warwafare. all of which we have defensive
measures to counter. but at the same time, this could become very problematic very quickly. >> in the past, iran has taken its time with retaliation, and has sort of spaced it out over time on many different occasions. dahlia, what do you think the iranian calculus is? they would have known these missiles would have detected, most people could have taken cover. but they needed to respond to the death of soleimani to save face, but not hit too hard. >> yeah, i think it's clear if reports are true that the casualties were minimal or nonexistent. this was a calculated attack to send that message. they do have a number of other tools, as was just said, that could take place over time. we've seen this in the case of
hezbollah attacking israel, assassinations, terrorism, region.tional and throughout the and i think there's reason to be concerned that while the pause that looks like is occurring tonight is welcome, and hopefully it can lead to de-escalation, the original pressures that led to this are still in place. the maximum pressure campaign led to lashing out over the summer. they're reverting back to activities that are worrying. not yet completely leaving the nuclear agreement. we still have these problems in place. we're not certain what the u.s. objective is vis-a-vis iran.
so there are clearly challenges. >> and looking at the broad picture of the region, you have shiites who are mightily enraged. a lot of the sunni states in the region do not know what is going on. isis is still in the region. and iran and donald trump are swapping threats by tweet. when you look at the region more broadly, are you pessimistic? >> i am, actually. i think the killing of soleimani, we already were facing a very volatile time in the region. but i think it significantly escalated tensions to the level where we're facing other problems already. isis, the relationship with iraqis, the potential for future attacks, broader targets in the region, everybody is on edge. i'm extremely pessimistic. i'm hopeful we can de-escalate,
but i think we need to stay vigilant and we can't be complacent for things calming down for the long run. we're still in a very difficult moment. >> and the u.s. and nato have both stopped their training programs in the anti-isis training, which isis must be smiling at that. thank you for your expertise, both of you. >> thank you. >> thank you, michael. >> we'll take a quick break on this breaking news story. more when we return.
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aside from missile strikes on u.s. bases, we're learning that a boeing 737 passenger plane has crashed in iran with 177 passengers aboard. it's been confirmed everyone has been killed. it took off from tehran's international airport early wednesday. the crash site ablaze with multiple fires and debris. technical problems are said to be the cause, but that has not been confirmed. emergency crews continue on the scene. you see clearly the charred debris strewn across the ground. richard quest joins me now. what do you make of what we know, which is not much? what sorts of technical difficulties leap to mind? >> you have to start pulling
this apart in the sense of pulling apart the different parts of flight. i'm not surprised about the amount of fire there was. the flight had only been going for about two minutes. the plane supposedly was at about 7,800 feet, having just left tehran airport before crashing. it was heavily fueled for a long flight, in bad weather, up to kiev. that would have increased the fire that happened upon the crash. now, the sort of technical difficulties that would overwhelm a crew at this point of flight, remember, the plane has got in the air so your initial, most dangerous part of takeoff has happened. the plane is flying. but for whatever reason, it does seem to be managing to climb. you get these technical
difficulties. some people say they saw an engine on fire. there is always a lot of eyewitness reports, many of which prove to be at least misguided in understanding this. you're looking at an event, engine fire, engine failure, that overwhelms the crew so they can't put in place tried and tested measures that would be put in normally to save the aircraft. that's the sort of thing we'll be looking at. the investigators will be looking at. the plane itself, it was a 737 ng, next generation, 800. it was not a max, they're all grounded. it was 3 1/2 years old, virtually brand-new. ukraine airlines has a good safety record, nothing that shouts out from either the plane, the airline. so we'll be looking at the flight and the crew.
>> it was interesting, very quickly, from the video we saw, it did appear, it looked like there was fire on the way down as well. i don't know if you saw that. >> yes, i haven't seen it. but that certainly goes with what the eyewitnesses are saying. then you're looking at an engine fire of some sort. once you've got that, the issue is why it overwhelmed the crew. engine fires are well tried and tested for most crews, they practice this sort of thing. we'll be looking to see what extraneous event made that engine fire so critical that the plane was unable to stay in the air. >> richard quest, good to have your expertise, joining us from beirut. appreciate it, richard, thanks. we're going to take a quick break here. more on the breaking news when we come back. s to work, too.
what are you doing back there, junior? since we're obviously lost, i'm rescheduling my xfinity customer service appointment. ah, relax. i got this. which gps are you using anyway? a little something called instinct. been using it for years. yeah, that's what i'm afraid of. he knows exactly where we're going.
and took responsibility for it. this is state terrorism, an act of aggression against iran. and it amounts to an armed attack against iran, but we will respond proportionately. >> iran's top nuclear negotiator matched president trump's tweet of his flag after the strike with his own iranian flag. trolling, perhaps. and also a blunt message, get the hell out of our regi region #hardrevenge. nick paton walsh joins us to continue the analysis. is this a show of iranian strength, or in some ways a display of some weakness in terms of what they could have done but did not?
>> it's hard to know whether iran calculated this would go off quite so ineffectively, or whether it's simply a show that their technology isn't as good as they may have hoped. we'll never know the inner workings of their thinking. but multiple reports suggested that the supreme leader wanted a military response, wanted something open in the response. it was he who thought it would be the military rather than proxies in the region. this is a direct attack, absolutely. you have to probably assess whether or not they knew how the attack would go. some of the missiles fell short,
it's not always 10 success rate. the time of night they chose, military bases, in a conflict area like this, the troops are protected by concrete walls, they have bunkers very close nearby in the event that the early warning systems kicked in. a small chance, frankly, for missiles to cause devastating damage unless it's a direct hit or very close on the sleeping quarters. it may have been an iranian calculation. this will have been a lot of bangs, but not an awful lot of casualties on the american side. that could be the case. so is this an off-ramp for c confrontation, and they can move on? or is it a bid for the americans to believe this is the extent of
iranian retaliation, then weeks or months down the line, the more traditional iranian proxy or ally responds later when the american posture is more relaxed? >> you make a good point that's worth exploring. in the past, not necessarily dealing with the u.s., but iran has spread out its revenge in both a calendar and geographical sense. this could well just be phase one, or do you think they really want to step back? >> there's no reason to think suddenly for the remainder of iranian and u.s. relations, the iranians will never hit a u.s. asset at some point in the future. we've seen years later responses in argentina and other parts of the world. you may see american diplomats or military struck in the days
or weeks ahead. we've heard them say in lebanon they think they will be used to move u.s. troops from the region. but you have to think the initial response from iran has been absolutely hollow. on their highest state of alert, in probably their most fierce area of conflict, iraq. but that's unlikely, given how we've seen some of that against comparative saudi defenses. there may be a calculation to be something loud to satisfy the supreme leader's request when he suggested it should be a
military response, or it may be something designed to lessen the expectation. >> nick, thanks. we'll take another quick break. we'll have more on the breaking news story when we return. [sneeze and sniffles] are you ok? yah, it's just a cold. it's not just a cold if you have high blood pressure. most cold medicines may raise blood pressure. coricidin hbp is the... ...#1 brand that gives... powerful cold relief without raising your blood pressure.
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welcome back. more on our breaking news now for you. iran has fired more than a dozen missiles at iraqi bases houses u.s. troops. retaliation for the u.s. strike that killed general qassem soleimani. so far, no reports of u.s. or iraqi casualties. in haifa, israel is often the target of threatening rhetoric
from iran. rarely is it backed up by action. how is it being seen there in light of the current escalation? >> we're here in haifa. right beyond me is a wall of fog. beyond that is the port, and a short distance beyond that, southern lebanon. and the threat would be directed from hezbollah. but there's no elevated level of alert, israel is calm and quiet over there. we're used to rhetoric flying back and forth between israel and iran and israel and hezbollah. and the prime minister has name checked qassem soleimani.
but it's been very quiet, and it looks like that's the way they want to keep it right now, not to provoke iran unnecessarily. israel sees it as a fight between the u.s. and iran, and at this point israel sees no point in getting involved. but netanyahu is speaking today, as well as israel's foreign minister. he's expected to talk about not hitting haifa, and it will be interesting to see what else he says. >> thank you very much. we'll take a break. more coming up on the breaking news. ...change in plans. alright, let's see what we can adjust.
you now. iran responding to the killing of its top commander by firing more than a dozen missiles at a base with u.s. forces in iraq. president trump tweeting, all is well, and said he would make a statement later on wednesday. lindsey graham spoke with president trump tuesday evening, then appeared on fox news with this message for iranians. >> this was an act of war. the missiles were launched from iran at iraq. the president as all the authorities he needs to respond. the price to be paid for the iranians has to go up before they will change. and the president is not looking for regime change, but he is looking for behavior changes. now, will the targets be military targets or oil
refineries? let me say tonight if you're watching television in iran. i just got off the phone with the president. your fate is in your own hands. you continue this crap, you're going to wake up one day out of the oil business. >> joining me now from toronto, the managing director at the center for planning and studies. great to have you on. speak to the risks of an escalation of bravado. do you feel that the president with these tweets and rhetoric has backed himself into a corner that he almost retaliate? >> well, michael, it seems in this social media age, everything is done on twitter. the fact is, the iranians took a lot of hostility from the americans, they believe, through th media, through social media, through president trump threatening them directory. and i think tonight, the fact
that president trump hasn't come out and spoken to the press,he fact that even after these air strikes in iraq, it looks like things will not escalate as much as people feared. i think potentially there is a way out of this. >> you tweeted earlier, u.s. attacks iran equals iraqis die. iran attacks u.s. equals iraqis die. >> this is the unfortunate situation we're in. when the u.s. conducted air strikes last week, they also killed iraqis. looking at the damage assessment, when iran struck, they may have caught some iraqis. both sides disregard iraqi
it's becoming increasingly difficult. >> given the iranian political presence and influence in iraq, not just political, military as well, does this put iraq in some ways the position to having to pick a side and that side may not be the u.s. >> it may be. we hope not. we look at the period when we were fighting isis da'esh. we didn't have conflict. we were able to maintain good relations for both. that's where we want to be. we want to remain on good terms with our neighbor and not forced to be able to choose a side. >> do you think iraqis are a bit fed up with the u.s. now? you have iranian proxies who are operating militarily in iraq. you've got iranian-backed
politicians who are pushing against the u.s. in parliament. and with iraqis being caught in the middle as they have been since 2003, let's face it, do you think they're a bit fed up with the u.s. >> what occurred last week at baghdad airport strikes, that was an unexpected escalation, even pro-iraq, pro-u.s. politicians is upset about the u.s. escalation and it's critical what the u.s. did. saying that i think we realize that there is, you know, a lot of positives that come from the iraq/u.s. relationship and if the u.s. is able to keep the value of iraq in mind we can look to a future where we're able to maintain friendly ties. at the moment things are not looking great and a lot are upset at u.s. sanctions. at the same time critical of iranian influence and hope that it improves. >> you know, meanwhile in the mid of all of this isis is regrouping in iran and syria.
the u.s. and nato announced they're stopping training programs because of all of this. isis must be smiling. >> you would think so, exactly, and unfortunately iraq does not have the complete capacity to combat isis on its own. we do rely on u.s. support and we are very appreciative of what the u.s. has been able to give toward the fight and'u.s. does end up pulling out of iraq, withdrawing there will be gaps in iraq's capabilities and we don't want to be in that position. isis can take advantage of any security vacuum or laxes or lack of ability in the iraqi security and have been active in iraq in the past few weeks and months so going forward i think we need to remain aware of the fact that our relations with the u.s. help us but i think it's also something for the u.s. to keep in mind if, you know, they endanger their presence in iraq by violating sovereignty or conducting attacks without authorization of the iraqi
government and asked to leave the u.s. will have contributed to these lapses. >> sajad jiyad, thank you so much for joining us from toronto. >> thank you. turning now to our other big story, the bush fire season absolutely devastating for the country and now we're learning at least 24 people have been charged in new south wales over deliberately lighting some of those fires. at least 25 people have died. more than 2,000 homes have been destroyed across australia since fire season began and that is not all. the united nations now says the wildfires have released a massive concentration of carbon dioxide over the pacific ocean. the country's prime minister warning the most difficult day is fight fires could come later this month and february with hot weather expected to intensify the flames. cnn's anna coren has been talking to some firefighters in
one of the hardest hit towns in new south wales. >> when you saw it alight and houses going up in flames, what was going through your mind? >> oh, just, yeah, just horrible, horrible feeling to think that -- a feeling of helplessness to know really it wouldn't matter if you had 20 tankers, 30 tankers, there would have been more probably saved, yes, but to stop something of that size and caliber this, is only one small pocket, our town, but it's only such a small pocket of the community, the whole agricultural area. the cattle, everyone that owns properties and the hurt that they've gone through, going to go through in the rebuilding, it is very hard. it's as hard as everything else,
i think. >> how is the township coping? >> we're resilient. i think everybody is hurting in their own way, in their own right. you know, we've got a long road. there's a lot of very resilient people here. there's a lot of people with a lot of love, a lot of commitment to people inside them, to the community. there's no doubt we will get through it. we have to show respect, love and patience to each other. >> incredible. australia's bushfires have burnt an area bigger than the u.s. states of vermont and new hampshire combined just to give you an idea and for more information on how you can help the victims and there are many, visit cnn.com/impact. we'll take a quick break.
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this is cnn breaking news. hello and welcome to our viewers in the united states and of course all around the world. i'm rosemary church. >> i'm michael holmes. we continue our breaking news coverage. iran has retaliated for the killing of its top commander and now the wait is on for washington's response. iran launching more than a dozen missiles at bases housing u.s. forces in iraq.