Saudi Arabia has warned of an imminent attack against the Kingdom by Iran, which has prompted neighboring nations and the United States to be on high alert, both Saudi and American officials told the Wall Street Journal.
It remains unclear when or where the alleged attacks will take place in Saudi Arabia, as officials did not provide any additional details. Saudi intelligence officials also warned of an impending attack by Iran against Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, which they say will be used as a distraction to take focus away from the ongoing, nationwide anti-government protests in Iran.
A National Security Council spokesperson told the WSJ that “We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” adding “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”
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This comes as Iranian officials accused the American and Saudi intelligence services of having “direct involvement” in the protests, which have been ongoing since September 16 following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iran’s morality police. Iran has also criticized Saudi media for covering the protests, with Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) Hossein Salami claiming that Saudi Arabia is trying to “deceive Iranian youths by some media.”
An attack against Saudi Arabia, if not done by Iran directly, could likely be done through Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who are armed with an arsenal of Iranian derived missile and drone platforms. Using Houthi rebels as a proxy for the attacks would allow for a certain level of deniability and avoid a direct military confrontation. Iran has directly targeted northern Iraq in the past with drone and missile strikes. The most recent strikes were carried out over the past month against the Kurds, who Iran has also accused of being “separatist terrorists” who are involved in the protests. While Iran may directly carry out an attack against Iraq like they have done before, they could also carry out attacks through Iran-backed Shia militias in the country.