The Saudi military and U.S. troops stationed in the country have elevated their alert level after Saudi Arabia revealed information that could indicate an imminent attack from Iran, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing Saudi and U.S. officials.
Saudi Arabia shared intelligence with the U.S. that Iran intends to attack targets in the Kingdom and in Erbil, Iraq, a move officials said would serve to distract from the increasingly severe protest movement within Iran, according to the WSJ. Officials did not specify the nature of the intelligence but said that the U.S., Saudi Arabia and other neighboring countries have upgraded their alert levels in response to the warnings.
The White House’s National Security Council acknowledged the threats and said it would be prepared to respond if Iran followed through with the suspected attack, according to the WSJ. (RELATED: Israel, Middle East Countries Crafting Deal To Build Regional Defense Network: REPORT)
“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” a National Security Council spokesperson told the WSJ. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”
The Department of Defense declined to provide further details on whether and how Iran might attack targets in the Gulf and Levant region at a press briefing Tuesday.
“We do remain concerned about the threat situation in the region and we’re in regular contact with our Saudi partners,” Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters. “We will reserve the right to protect and defend ourselves no matter where our forces are serving.”
Disputes over oil output quotas and accusations on both sides of using oil production for political gain soured U.S.-Saudi relations in recent weeks, but American officials stressed in October that military cooperation would remain unaffected, the WSJ reported. Approximately 3,000 troops remain stationed in the kingdom, according to Military.com.
U.S. and Royal Saudi Armed Forces participate in a preliminary planning conference for the integrated air and missile defense exercise #EagleResolve23 @usarmycentral @modgovksa #StrongerTogether https://t.co/6xFRsOTOze
— U.S. Central Command (@CENTCOM) October 26, 2022
Uprisings have swept across Iran since the killing of Jina “Mahsa” Amini by Iranian morality police in September. Protesters have faced mass arrests and dozens have died after crackdown from regime forces, according to Axios.
Iranian leaders have blamed U.S. and Western partners for instigating the protests through covert instruments, naming BBC Persian Service as an example, according to Axios. On Oct 23, Iran threatened to take legal action against the U.S. for alleged “direct involvement,” CNN reported.
Hossein Salami, the head Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, also publicly warned Saudi Arabia to clamp down on news coverage of the protests, according to the WSJ.
“This is our last warning, because you are interfering in our internal affairs through these media,” Salami said, according to the WSJ. “You are involved in this matter and know that you are vulnerable.”
“Do not come to the streets! Today is the last day of the riots,” Hossein Salami, head Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, said on Oct. 29, according to Reuters.
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