Europe

Britain Shares with U.S. Assessment of “Heightened Threat” from Iran as Tehran Threatens Proxy War

Britain and the United States are on the same page regarding “the heightened threat” from Iran, the country’s Foreign Minister, Jeremy Hunt, said Thursday.

Hunt wrote on social media that he had discussed Iran with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week in London and again in Brussels on Monday.

“We share the same assessment of the heightened threat posed by Iran,” the minister said on Twitter. “As always we work closely with the USA.”

Sky News reported Thursday that British intelligence believe there is an increased risk of Iran or one of its proxies “taking action against UK, US or other allied interests in the region in a way that can be plausibly denied” to avoid an all-out war with their enemies.

Two senior intelligence sources said that Qassem Soleimani, the powerful leader of the Quds Force, summoned Shiite groups under Tehran’s influence three weeks ago to mobilize them for a possible confrontation with the U.S.

“It wasn’t quite a call to arms, but it wasn’t far off,” one source said.

As possible targets, the sources identified oil and civilian infrastructures across the Middle East. Earlier this week, Iranian-sponsored Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed an “armed drones” attack on vital oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, which the country’s energy minister, Khalid al-Falih, described as “an act of terrorism.”

The findings of a team of U.S. military experts also revealed that Iran or Iranian-sponsored proxies were likely behind a sabotage attack on two Saudi oil tankers and two other vessels in the Gulf of Oman on Sunday.

The U.S. Department of State on Wednesday ordered “nonemergency U.S. government employees,” at both the embassy in Baghdad and the consulate in Erbil, to leave the country, responding to what the White House said was a threat linked to Iran.

The British Foreign Office, acting on similar intelligence, raised the threat level for all British forces in Iraq and put its personnel in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar on an increased state of alert.

Speaking in Russia on Tuesday, Pompeo said the U.S. “fundamentally” did not seek a conflict with Iran. But the secretary of state stressed, “We have also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.”

[Photo: Wall Street Journal / YouTube]