Israeli officials alerted the U.S. to a possible Iranian plot against America and its interests in the Persian Gulf, according to a new report.
“It is still unclear to us what the Iranians are trying to do and how they are planning to do it, but it is clear to us that the Iranian temperature is on the rise as a result of the growing U.S. pressure campaign against them, and they are considering retaliating against U.S. interests in the Gulf,” an unnamed Israeli official reportedly told Axios.
In a statement released Sunday night, national security adviser John Bolton said the U.S. was responding to unspecified concerns by dispatching the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group to the Persian Gulf. More Air Force bombers were also sent to the region.
American officials were shown “new intelligence that surfaced over the weekend raised concerns about the Revolutionary Guards and their activities in Iraq, where they have helped train Shiite Arab militias,” The New York Times reported, quoting sources it did not name.
The intelligence included “new concerns in waterways where Iranian maritime forces operate,” The Times reported.
Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, made the request for the additional deployment after seeing the intelligence, a senior defense official reportedly told USA Today.
Spokesman Charles Summers said American troops are always on guard for actions from Iran.
“However, the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force are considered a prudent step in response to indications of heightened Iranian readiness to conduct offensive operations against U.S. forces and our interests,” he said.
“It ensures we have the forces we need in the region to respond to contingencies and to defend U.S. forces and interests in the region.”
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned Iran against attacking American forces.
2 of 2: We call on the Iranian regime to cease all provocation. We will hold the Iranian regime accountable for any attack on US forces or our interests.
— Acting SecDef Pat Shanahan (@ActingSecDef) May 6, 2019
Iraq was named as one possible area for Iranian efforts against American interests.
“We’ve been hearing from the Saudis and the Emiratis that they expected to see Iranian escalation either in Yemen or the Red Sea to put pressure on their oil exports to Europe,” Ali Vaezof the International Crisis Group said, according to Politico.
But “Iraq is where [the Iranians] feel most comfortable, and there are a lot of options for targeting U.S. assets,” he added.
America’s concerns about Iran’s intentions came several days after Iran declared all U.S. forces in the Middle East to be terrorists, Reuters reported.
The law, which specifically designates the U.S. Central Command as a terrorist organization, comes in response to President Donald Trump classifying Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force a terrorist group. The CENTCOM is responsible for operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said America is using “psychological warfare” against Iran, according to The Washington Post.
He said the U.S. “wants to keep the Persian Gulf for itself.”
Iran was also linked to the spike in unrest in Gaza, the Jerusalem Post reported
Former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said that Islamic Jihad helped trigger the unrest by provoking the Friday confrontation with Israeli soldiers that led to four protesters being killed. After the killings, Hamas launched an estimated 600 rockets into Israel, bringing about hundreds of Israeli airstrikes in response.
“Why did the Islamic Jihad do this? The answer is again and again and again — Iran,” Amidror said. “It was established by Iran, financed by Iran, and does what Iran wants it to do.”
Amidror said Gaza is being manipulated by Iran to distract from the situation in Syria.
“Israel will be busy focusing on Gaza and not have enough energy to deal with the building up of an independent war machine in Syria,” he said.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon said Iran is lashing out because sanctions put in place by the Trump administration are having an impact.
“When we hear the words coming from Tehran, threatening the U.S., threatening Israel, it shows that they’re panicking because the sanctions are working,” he said on the Fox News show “America’s Newsroom.”
“But we are committed. We are committed to fighting terrorism, to fighting the proxies of Iran in our region.”
— America’s Newsroom (@AmericaNewsroom) May 6, 2019
Danon noted that foreign money allows Hamas to buy weapons, and castigated nations that scolded Israel for attacking in response to being attacked.
“Hamas is using the funds that they get from the international community to dig tunnels and to produce rockets against Israel,” Danon said.
“European countries called on us to show restraint,” he said, according to Fox News. “What do they expect from us? If, God forbid, you would have hundreds of rockets flying into a European capital, what would have been their reaction?”
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