The US and countries in the Middle East have put their forces on high alert after Saudi Arabia warned Washington of an imminent Iranian attack on targets in the Kingdom and Iraq, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) said in an exclusive report Tuesday.
Saudi officials shared information with Washington that Iran is poised to launch attacks on both the kingdom and Erbil, Iraq, to divert attention from protests in the country that have rocked the country since mid-September, the outlet said.
Protests erupted in several Iranian cities following the death of a 22-year-old woman, Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of the so-called morality police. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the protests a foreign conspiracy to destabilize the country and accused the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia of instigating the demonstrations.
Following the warning, Saudi Arabia and the US, along with several other neighboring countries, raised the alert level for their armed forces. International business hours have contacted the US Department of State outside of office hours and will update this report based on their comments.
Citing an unnamed spokesman for the White House National Security Council, the WSJ report said Washington is concerned about the warnings and ready to respond should Iran launch an attack.
“We are concerned about the threat picture and remain in constant contact with the Saudis through military and intelligence channels,” the National Security Council spokesman said, according to the outlet. “We will not hesitate to defend our interests and partners in the region.”
The latest warning from Saudi Arabia comes amid strained relations between Washington and Riyadh over the kingdom’s recent oil exploration moves. Despite requests from Washington to delay the decision until after the midterm elections, Saudi Arabia-led OPEC+ decided last month to cut oil production. The decision angered Joe Biden’s government, which responded by threatening Riyadh with “consequences.”
But for all the clamor, Riyadh’s abandonment will have serious and far-reaching implications for Washington’s security interests and operations in the Middle East, particularly its efforts to stem Iranian and Russian influence in the region.
Amid Tehran authorities’ struggle to quell protests domestically, the commander of the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, publicly threatened Saudi Arabia in mid-October and warned against its media coverage of the demonstrations.
“I warn the Saudi regime: be careful with your behavior and control these outlets or the smoke will blow in your face,” Salami said. “We give you the last word because you are interfering in our internal affairs with this media. We told you to be careful.”
Tehran also blamed Iranian Kurdish separatist groups for inciting protests that erupted in Iran and in late September carried out one of the largest and deadliest bombings in recent years on Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, firing more than 40 ballistic missiles and armed drones and more than 13 people were killed. Tehran had carried out similar attacks in the past.
Meanwhile, Iran-backed rebels have also carried out attacks on military bases and critical infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq, and ships in the Gulf.
After signing the Abraham Accords, Israel and its new Arab allies attempted to establish a joint air defense system, which is now taking shape. The UAE has reportedly deployed an Israeli-made Barak air defense system against Iranian missiles and drones.
https://www.ibtimes.com.au/middle-east-high-alert-saudi-arabia-warns-us-imminent-iranian-attack-report-1840504?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Middle East on high alert as Saudi Arabia warns US of imminent Iranian attack: report