US issues travel warning to UAE over Iran tensions

US issues travel warning to UAE over Iran tensions threat
3 min read
16 May, 2019
The US has issued a new warning to citizens travelling to the UAE, as tensions with Iran boil over.
The US has issued a new advisory following tensions with Iran [Getty]
The US State Department has issued a new travel warning to citizens visiting the UAE, as tensions between Iran and its neighbours flare up over alleged sabotage incidents at an Emirati port last Sunday.

A message was sent via the US mission to the UAE's Twitter account on Tuesday, following an alleged attack on four vessels at Fujairah port.

Iran was accused of being linked to the alleged attack, when the four commercial ships reported damage to their rears below the water line, which some experts believe to have been caused by explosives.

"Message to US citizens. The US Embassy/Consulate General in the UAE advises all US citizens of heightened tensions in the region. US citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance & practice good situational awareness," the US Mission to UAE said on its Twitter account.

There were no changes to the State Department's travel advisory to the UAE - which is at Level 1 - advising Americans to "Exercise Normal Precautions" when visiting the country.  

The US State Department was contacted for comment.

On Wednesday, the US advised against all travel to Iraq over tensions with Iran, with all non-emergency consulate staff pulled out of the Baghdad embassy over perceived threats.

"Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians," a travel advisory warned.

"Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq."

Although the UAE is still investigating the incident at the Fujairah port, sources told media earlier that they believed a rocket or missile hit the boats.

On Wednesday, the UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash offered a more measured appraisal of the situation, urging "caution and good judgment".

A US government official told Reuters that security experts believe Iran gave its "blessing" for the alleged acts of sabotage, although Tehran is not thought to have directly carried out the attacks.

Meanwhile, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Maj Gen Hossein Salami, said that the country was ready for war with its "enemies".

"We are on the cusp of a full-scale confrontation with the enemy," said Salami, who has taken a more hawkish line towards Israel and the US than his predecessor.

Iran has also been accused of arming and training Houthi rebels in Yemen with the group claiming to be behind two drone attacks on oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, ramping up tensions between Tehran and its neighbours.

The US has also bolstered its military presence in the Gulf region, flying in B-52 bombers to Qatar while an aircraft carrier is on its way to the tense waters.

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