Iran threat: Elite SAS squad head to Gulf to guard Royal Navy base from Tehran attack | World | News

Iran threat: Elite SAS squad head to Gulf to guard Royal Navy base from Tehran attack | World | News





The order was given after intelligence reports warned that saboteurs aligned to Tehran have listed as targets the Royal Navy’s command base in Bahrain and the UK’s embassy. It follows an increase of US forces in the region in reaction to last week’s attack on Saudi Arabia, which knocked out almost half its oil supplies. A few thousand extra US troops will take on a “defensive role” at both Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s request. 

The USS Nitze, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, will be positioned off the coast of Saudi Arabia to plug the gap in that country’s air defences which allowed almost 30 drones and cruise missiles to hit the Abqaiq oil facility and the Khurais oil field. 

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen originally claimed responsibility, but US intelligence points to Tehran as being behind the attacks. 

Last week’s incidents, combined with an Iranian attack on an American spy drone in June, represented a “dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has said. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it “an act of war”. 

During a visit to the White House by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison this weekend, US President Donald Trump declared it would be easy to knock out 15 major targets 
in Iran. 

“I could do it right here,” he said, speaking from the Oval Office. “It’s all set to go. I could do it right here and then you’d have a nice big story to report. 

“We all hope, and Scott hopes, we all pray that we never have to use nuclear.” 

However, he added, “the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint.” 

The commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Qasem Soleimani, responded by saying any country which attacks the Islamic Republic will see its territory become the “main battlefield”. 

Despite the rhetoric and attempts to gather an international “coalition of the willing” against the Islamic Republic, Mr Trump remains deeply reluctant to engage militarily with Iran. 

The president has sacked hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton, who sought a harder approach against Iran, proclaiming his former appointee had made some “very big mistakes”. 

At the time Mr Trump said he was keen to meet with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani at the UN General Assembly. 

While the attack on Saudi Arabia has ended any prospect of that meeting, the United States’s main thrust has been to increase its “maximum pressure” by levying more sanctions against Tehran. 

Speaking during the same meeting with Mr Morrison, Mr Trump said: “We have just sanctioned the Iranian national bank”, adding that he preferred an economic solution to a military one. 

US Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin told reporters the bank was Tehran’s last source of funds, saying: “We have now cut off all funds to Iran”. 

While the US claims the tactic is working, experts last night questioned why an economically weak regime should continue to act so belligerently.

Trump’s failure to back military rhetoric with action has hurt his credibility, according to regional expert Dr Albert Wolf, dean of the College of International Studies, American University of Kurdistan. 

In Bahrain the SAS team arrived in the capital Manama last week and will work with Bahrain’s Special Security Force Command, their elite counter-terror forces, whose officers were trained in the UK. 

The team joined 25 soldiers from the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, sent to the kingdom to replace the Royal Anglian Regiment in protection duties. 

Their task will be to defend the Royal Naval base, HMS Jufair, which is home to 300 naval personnel as well as a high readiness Marine Commando unit. 






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