A cauldron of political and cultural tension has been boiling in the Middle East for decades, and the US is warning that it could spill over into chaos sooner rather than later.
In the last week, we have witnessed several attempts by bad actors to disrupt the flow of Saudi Arabian oil from the region.
First, several Saudi oil tankers were attacked by sophisticated underwater drones laden with explosives. These makeshift torpedos slammed into 4 ships, prompting cries of sabotage, with fingers now pointing squarely in the direction of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Just hours later, weaponized aerial drones performed similarly explosive attacks on a Saudi pipeline as well.
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Now, as these incidents continue to be investigated, US authorities are warning that airliners could be the next target.
U.S. diplomats warned Saturday that commercial airliners flying over the wider Persian Gulf faced a risk of being “misidentified” amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the risks the current tensions pose to a region crucial to global air travel. It came as Lloyd’s of London warned of increasing risks to maritime shipping in the region.
Meanwhile, oil giant ExxonMobil began evacuating staff from Basra, Iraq, where the U.S. Consulate has been closed for months following a rocket attack America blamed on Shiite militias backed by Iran, local authorities said. The island nation of Bahrain also ordered its citizens out of Iraq and Iran over regional tensions.
The United States has also removed all non-essential personnel from Iraq, as fears of an all-out war with Iran loom on the horizon.
Such an attack would almost surely prompt a massive international backlash against Iran.
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