NEW YORK, Jan 06 (APP):Worried about a military confrontation in the Gulf after the U.S. assassinated Iran’s top general, Saudi Arabia is dispatching a senior government minister to Washington on a mission to contain the escalating crisis, according to a media report.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has instructed his younger brother, Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, to travel to Washington and London in the next few days to urge restraint, Bloomberg News reported, citing the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
“The threat of conflict offered the Kingdom a rare opportunity for common cause with Qatar, which it shunned since June 2017,” Bloomberg News said. As a result, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani was sent to Tehran with a similar appeal for calm.
U.S.-Iran tensions took a dangerous turn when an American air strike killed top Iranian commander general Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport in reaction to an alleged pro-Iran mob attack on the American embassy in the Iraqi capital.
Iran has vowed to strike back militarily against the U.S.
“The message from the Gulf to the U.S. is clear: They are telling Trump, ‘Please spare us the pain of going through another war that would be destructive to the region,’” Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, a political science professor in the neighbouring United Arab Emirates (UAE), was quoted as saying. “We will be the first to pay the price for any military showdown, so it’s in our best interest not to see things get out of hand.”
An Iranian official has told an Iranian channel that three dozen U.S. military bases and facilities are within reach of Iran’s defence forces — the closest being in Bahrain.
The U.A.E.’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, called for “rational engagement,” writing Friday on Twitter that “wisdom and balance must prevail.”
In Tehran, the Qatari foreign minister met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to discuss “measures to maintain the security and stability of the region,” state-run Qatar News Agency reported.
Riyadh’s concerns over destabilization of the region heightened last year when the Yemen’s Houthis hit a major oil refinery with a missile, sounding alarm bells across the region and the world oil market.
Meanwhile, President Trump on Sunday again warned Tehran that the US would respond quickly to any any Iranian strike and threatened that American retaliation could be “disproportionate.”
Trump’s warning, in a Tweet sent Sunday afternoon was framed as a notice to Congress of his intent to act.
“These Media Posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any U.S. person or target, the United States will quickly & fully strike back, & perhaps in a disproportionate manner,” he wrote Sunday afternoon. “Such legal notice is not required, but is given nevertheless!”
His warning came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US military may strike more Iranian leaders if the Islamic Republic retaliates for the killing of Tehran’s most powerful general last week by attacking Americans or American interests.
As Pompeo conducted a round of TV interviews to explain Trump’s decision to target Gen. Soleimani, the repercussions from that attack played out: The Iraqi Parliament called on the 5,200 US forces in the country to leave; the US military coalition in Baghdad suspended training of Iraqi forces to concentrate on defending coalition troops; and in Beirut, the Lebanese Hezbollah chief said US forces throughout the Mideast are fair targets for retaliation.
In Tehran, Iranian state television reported that the country will no longer abide by any limits of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with the United States and other world powers. Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and stepped up economic sanctions on Tehran — actions that heightened tensions between between Washington and Teheran.