Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with the U.S. warning of an imminent attack from Iran on targets in the kingdom, putting the American military and others in the Middle East on an elevated alert level, Saudi and U.S. officials said.
In response to the warning, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and several other neighboring states have raised the level of alert for their military forces, the officials said. They didn’t provide more details on the Saudi intelligence.
Saudi officials said Iran is poised to carry out attacks on both the kingdom and Erbil, Iraq, in an effort to distract attention from domestic protests that have roiled the country since September.
The White House National Security Council said it was concerned about the warnings and ready to respond if Iran carried out an attack.
“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” said a National Security Council spokesperson. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”
Iran has already attacked northern Iraq with dozens of ballistic missiles and armed drones since late September, one of which was shot down by a U.S. warplane as it headed toward the city of Erbil, where American troops are based. Tehran has publicly blamed Iranian Kurdish separatist groups based there for fomenting the unrest at home.
Iranian authorities have also publicly accused Saudi Arabia, along with the U.S. and Israel, of instigating the demonstrations.
Last month, the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps publicly warned Saudi Arabia to rein in coverage of the protests in Iran by Farsi-language satellite news channels, including Iran International, a Saudi-backed satellite television channel based in London popular with many Iranians. [Continue reading…]