What’s behind rising US-Iran tensions in the Gulf?

Nellie Chapman
May 18, 2019

The heightened alert from British officials comes after the USA ordered all non-essential government staff to leave Iraq.

It came as tensions soared in the region amid a stand-off between Washington and Tehran.

He said that Baghdad would use its position to act as a mediator and that his country "does not want a new devastating war in the region".

Trump blasted media reports about turmoil in the White House, saying "there is no infighting whatsoever".

"Iran should be aware that it is principally responsible for the instability in the region", Gargash added and demanded that any future nuclear deal had to involve Arab states like his own. Iran trained Asaib Ahl al-Haq, along with other Shiite militant groups in Iraq, during the U.S. occupation of the country.

They said that any intelligence of an Iranian threat was "small stuff".

"This is an imminent threat to our personnel", said a second official.

"There is no doubt in my mind that under the circumstances, a partial ordered departure (from the embassy) is a reasonable thing to do".

Iran's Defense Minister, Amir Hatami, was quoted by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) as saying that Tehran "will defeat the American-Zionist front", but other Iranian officials have downplayed America's recent military movements.

"This face-off is not military because there is not going to be any war".

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"This moment in history, because the enemy has stepped into the field of confrontation with us with all the possible capacity, is the most decisive moment of the Islamic revolution", said Major General Hossein Salami.

Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, asserted that the USA wants a "deterrent" there in case Iran wants to "come after an American interest". "The threats were specific and against American personnel in Iraq".

Britain appears to have drawn similar conclusions to the US amid the increasing tensions between the Trump administration and the Iranian regime, even though a British general took an unusual step to disregard the Iranian threat on Monday.

Tensions have sharply escalated between arch-rivals Washington and Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last May from the 2015 worldwide Iran nuclear deal which removed sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iran's nuclear programme.

And in Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday expressed concerns about "the continued escalation of tensions around this subject".

"US Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria", the statement from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

Some observers speculate that Tehran is seeking to retaliate over Washington's decision in April to put Iran's Revolutionary Guards on a terror blacklist - a move created to stymie their activities across the Middle East.

But what caused the relatively minor damage to the vessels and who was behind it remains unknown.

Germany and the Netherlands have also suspended their military assistance programmes in the volatile country.

And he maintains that the United States wants to stop Iran from constructing a nuclear weapon.

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