Iran‘s government is planning to carry out an “imminent” attack of some form against one of its top regional rivals, Saudi Arabiaaccording to an intelligence bulletin reportedly shared with the US government.
The Wall Street Journal reported that White House officials, as well as their counterparts in the Saudi government, had confirmed the news. A spokesperson for the National Security Council told the newspaper that the Biden administration was concerned about the warning, and was prepared to respond.
“We are concerned about the threat picture, and we remain in constant contact through military and intelligence channels with the Saudis,” said the spokesperson. “We will not hesitate to act in the defense of our interests and partners in the region.”
The US-Saudi relationship remains rocky amid a largely failed effort by the Biden administration to re-normalise the two countries’ past cooperation. A move by Opec+, controlled by the Saudis, to decrease oil production just ahead of the US midterm elections has further soured the Kingdom’s reputation in the eyes of many Democratic politicians.
According to the intelligence shared by the Saudi government, the Iranian military plans to strike targets in Erbil, Iraq, as well as Saudi Arabia itself in the coming days or weeks while protests over the death of a young woman in police custody rage on across the country, humiliating the government as demonstrators flout and openly defy its conservative viewpoints.
The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini occurred after her arrest for allegedly wearing a headscarf incorrectly. Dozens more have died in the protests which have shown little signs of slowing down and have sparked new US sanctions against those in the government accused of orchestrating a violent crackdown in response.
Iran’s government has responded to the unrest by blaming the American and Saudi governments, along with others, for supposedly fomenting the protests. The Biden administration has confirmed that it continues longstanding efforts to help persons in countries like Iran maintain access to the internet in the face of government crackdowns, but resisted claims that it is responsible for spreading any anti-government sentiment within Iran.
The Iranian military has carried out a number of missile attacks against targets in Iran’s Kurdistan region over the past year, with US troops and interests in the region appearing to be the target.
Tehran is known to be actively seeking to strike at US targets including potentially political figures in retaliation for the killing of a top Revolutionary Guard commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, by the Trump administration.