U.S. Embassy in Nassau issues alert over heightened Middle East tensions

U.S. Embassy in Nassau issues alert over heightened Middle East tensions
The U.S. embassy in Nassau

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The United States Embassy in Nassau yesterday issue a security alert, warning its staff of heightened tensions in the Middle East following the killing of a top Iranian military commander general in an air strike last week.

“There is heightened tension in the Middle East that may result in security risks to U.S. citizens abroad,” the alert said.

“Out of an abundance of caution, U.S. Embassy personnel are instructed to remain vigilant and report any unusual activity to the proper authorities.

“Although there is no specific threat information to the U.S. Embassy in The Bahamas, we will continue to review the security situation and will provide additional information as needed.”

The alert advised its citizens and employees of several cautionary actions to take including: keeping a low profile, being aware of their surroundings, staying alert in locations frequented by tourists, reviewing their personal security plans and ensuring travel documents are up to date and easily accessible.

Similar warnings were also disseminated to other U.S. Embassy locations in other parts of the world in recent days.

The alert made no mention of the killing of Iranian military commander or of any specific country or groups.

General Qassem Suleimani, 62, was killed at a Baghdad airport, along with nine other Iran-backed militia figures, early Friday morning, at the direction of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Suleimani headed Iranian military operations in the Middle East as head of Iran’s Quds Force.

According to the U.S. State Department Suleimani was “actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”, adding that the strike was aimed at “deterring future Iranian attack plans”.

The top military general however is being hailed as a martyr in his home country and Iran’s officials have vowed “severe revenge” over the killing.

Early Tuesday morning, Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops. There were no casualties reported.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest told reporters outside Cabinet that The Bahamas must pay close attention to global developments that can adversely impact its main industry tourism.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield has said The Bahamas is seeking to beef up security until there is a de-escalation in tensions between the two countries after initial comments that his ministry, at the time, saw no implications for Bahamians traveling to the United States to America.

In a statement castigating the government’s response to the Iran crisis, former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell insisted that the government get its “foreign affairs act together”.

“The government cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time on public policy,” Mitchell said.

“The Cabinet should speak in unity.”

He noted that a PLP administration would have already advised Bahamian citizens living in or traveling to the Middle East to take special precautions, avoid the area, or if possible, leave the area.

He said the PLP would have also advised Bahamian citizens living in the U.S., especially students, to take care and not to involve themselves in any way in US domestic matters.

Mitchell noted that they would have also assisted with the evacuation if necessary.

He added that The Bahamas should join the international chorus led by the UN Secretary General in an appeal for peace and restraint in that region and the government should announce a rise in the level of watch and surveillance.