The United States has been warning that the threat of Iranian violence against their interests is higher than normal, and the United Kingdom agrees. UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Twitter on Thursday said that he and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had discussed Iran recently and “we share the same assessment of the heightened threat posed by Iran. As always we work closely with the US.”
The concerns expressed UK’s top diplomat were similar to those delivered by his counterpart in Germany, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, during a speech on Thursday published by the German Federal Foreign Office. “What happened in the past few days—the acts of sabotage against ships and pipelines—are signs that these dangers are concrete and real,” said Maas. Last week, an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia was attacked by rebels supported by Iran and two Saudi oil tankers were believed to have been sabotaged by Iran, according a report in U.S. News & World Report.
The public signals from Iran have been mixed. Last Tuesday, around the same timing as the above incidents, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told senior Iran officials that “there was not going to be any war” with the US, according to the Fars News Agency.
Yet just one day later and Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Hossein Salami was quoted as saying that Iran was “on the verge of a full-scale confrontation.” The Fars report further quoted the powerful Iranian military leader as saying that Iran’s enemies “have reached the end of the line” and that this is “the most decisive moment for the Islamic Revolution.”
The tense rhetoric on all sides comes after the US increased sanctions on Iran and Tehran announced they were withdrawing from some of their commitments under the global nuclear agreement and increasing their nuclear fuel resources.
The US Defense Department earlier this month announced on their website that a Patriot battery and a marine transport ship would be joining an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force in the Middle East region “in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against US forces and our interests.”
Last week, Pompeo made it clear the US position on conflict with Iran. “We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran,” said Pompeo in comments released by the State Department last Tuesday. “…We’ve also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”
The Germans and the British both have disagreed with the US decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear accord, which the American leadership believes to be a bad deal, but they still all share concerns about the risk posed by Iran.
“As developments off the coast of the United Arab Emirates in recent days have shown, sometimes all it takes is a spark to start a conflagration,” said Maas. “We are extremely concerned about this. That is why we are focusing on one thing in this situation, namely that we must and we will do everything we can to prevent military escalation.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, May 19, 2019)