US issues security alert on Iraq amid regional tensions

Mike Pompeo recently visited Baghdad. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 May 2019
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US issues security alert on Iraq amid regional tensions

  • The advisory comes at a time of rising tensions in the Middle East between the United States and Iran
  • The warning follows a surprise visit to Baghdad by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

BAGHDAD: The US Embassy in Iraq has issued a security alert, warning US citizens of “heightened tensions” in Iraq and advising against travel there.
The advisory warning was posted on Twitter on Sunday night. It comes at a time of rising tensions in the Middle East between the United States and Iran.
The warning follows a surprise visit to Baghdad by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo which he said was aimed at demonstrating US support for the Iraqi government, as the US says it has been picking up intelligence that Iran is threatening American interests in the Middle East.
During his visit, Pompeo also said he wanted to underscore Iraq’s need to protect Americans in the country.


UAE says joint probe into tanker attack ensures impartiality

Updated 32 min 3 sec ago
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UAE says joint probe into tanker attack ensures impartiality

  • UAE says international participation in an investigation into ‘sabotage attacks’ on oil tankers will lead to ‘impartial conclusions’
  • It also indicated the results may take time

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates said on Wednesday that the participation of several countries in an investigation into last week’s attack on oil tankers off its coast would support the “impartiality and transparency” of the findings.
The Gulf Arab state has not yet blamed anyone for the acts of sabotage on four vessels including two Saudi oil tankers, but a senior UAE official has said Abu Dhabi was concerned about Iranian behavior in the region.
“The keenness of our international partners to participate in the investigation and the concerted efforts support the impartiality and transparency in arriving at results,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement carried on state news agency WAM.
US government sources told Reuters they believe Iran encouraged Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia or Iraq-based militias to carry out the operation.
Tehran has distanced itself from the attack, which comes as Iran and the United States spar over sanctions and the US military presence in the Gulf region.
The UAE foreign ministry statement welcomed the participation of several “friendly and brotherly” countries in the investigation, but did not name them. It did not give a timeframe, saying the probe would take “the time required.”
UAE officials have said that the United States and France, which has a naval base in Abu Dhabi, were participating in the investigation as well as Saudi Arabia and Norway.
A Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE fuel bunker barge were among the vessels hit near Fujairah emirate, one of the world’s largest bunkering hubs located just outside the Strait of Hormuz.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has said Abu Dhabi would show restraint after the attack and that it was committed to de-escalation during what he described as a “difficult situation” caused by Iranian behavior in the region.
Saudi Arabia has called for emergency Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30 to discuss the implications of the tanker attack and an armed drone strike two days later on Saudi oil installations in the Kingdom, for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility.