Iran attacks bases housing US troops

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5:35 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

UAE says oil cartel OPEC is ready to respond

The energy minister of the United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that OPEC is ready to respond as tensions rise in the Middle East, saying that no country can afford a return to a situation where crude oil costs $100 per barrel.

Suhail Al Mazrouei told CNN Business that the cartel would seek to ensure that ample energy supplies are available to the global economy even as the United States and Iran exchange blows in a conflict that could further destabilize the volatile region.

“We will always make sure that we supply the world with whatever it requires,” al Mazrouei said, adding that the United Arab Emirates was building spare capacity in order to avoid shortages.

Still, the energy minister cautioned that even OPEC and its allies don’t have unlimited resources. “We have limitations as well,” he said, saying that the group “cannot just replace any quantity” of supply that is taken offline.

OPEC says it is ready to respond as rising tensions in the Middle East push oil prices higher.
OPEC says it is ready to respond as rising tensions in the Middle East push oil prices higher. Photo: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images

Al Mazrouei suggested that Iran, itself a major oil producer, would avoid attacks on shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, a crucial waterway that allows oil tankers to move crude from the Persian Gulf to global markets.

“The Strait of Hormuz is not only important for us, it is important for the world economy and the whole supply chain, and Iran understands that,” said al Mazrouei. “The world economy cannot sustain another $100 oil price and another huge spike.”

Brent crude futures, the global benchmark, briefly topped $70 per barrel on Wednesday after Iran launched missiles at two Iraqi military bases that house US troops.

5:23 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

EU says the military escalation “must stop now”

The European Union has urged all sides to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that the use of weapons “must stop now” in order to de-escalate tensions and “give space to dialogue” on the situation in Iran and Iraq.

Speaking during a joint press conference with EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell, she said:

The current crisis affects not only the region, but all of us. The use of weapons must stop now to give space to dialogue.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Photo: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images

Borrell described recent developments in Iran, Iraq and the region as a whole as “extremely worrying,” and warned that an escalation in violence could jeopardise the work of the "Anti-Daesh Coalition," another name for ISIS.

He added:

The latest rocket attacks on airbases in Iraq used by the US and Coalition forces, among them European forces, are yet another example of escalation and increased confrontation.
The current situation puts at risk the efforts of the past years and also has implications for the important work of the Anti-Daesh Coalition.”

Borrell also reiterated the EU’s commitment to safeguarding the Iran nuclear deal, confirming that he has invited Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks on the ongoing situation.

Meanwhile, NATO is monitoring the situation in Iraq and has been in touch with US authorities, an alliance official told CNN on Wednesday.

5:17 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Security source says there are no casualties following Iranian strikes

A Dubai-based western private security source with staff at the al-Asad and Erbil military bases told CNN there were “no casualties” in Wednesday's Iranian missile attack.

“To be honest, rocket attacks are nothing new to us. It is business as usual,” the source told CNN.

5:16 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

"If you hit, you get hit back," Iran's Supreme Leader says after strikes on US targets in Iraq

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting on Wednesday to speak about the missile attacks on US bases in Iraq.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting on Wednesday to speak about the missile attacks on US bases in Iraq. Handout/Iranian Supreme Leader Press Office/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "this region does not accept [the] US presence" in a televised address to the nation Wednesday in Qom following the strikes on US targets in Iraq.

Speaking in front of a packed hall, Khamenei praised killed General Qasem Soleimani, calling him "brave" adding, he "had no fear." Many in the audience were seen weeping and chanting angrily throughout his speech.

Khamenei said that Soleimani's death means "a revolution is alive." 

The Supreme Leader also warned the US against further attacks: "If you hit, you get hit back."

He added:

They know this. They know that if they get themselves involved in a confrontation with us and get entangled in a military way, they will get their feet trapped. They might harm us, but they will harm themselves many times more, and they realize that."

This post was updated to correct the location where Khamenei was speaking.

5:01 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Air France suspends flights over Iranian and Iraqi airspace. Other airlines are taking similar steps

More airlines are suspending flights over Iranian and/or Iraqi air space.

Air France announced Wednesday it has has paused all flights over the two countries' air space until further notice.

The airline says the decision was a precautionary measure and that it was constantly monitoring the situation to “ensure the highest level of flight safety.”

Air France is among the airlines to suspend flights over Iran and Iraq.
Air France is among the airlines to suspend flights over Iran and Iraq. Photo: JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

Germany's Lufthansa said it cancelled flights to Tehran and Erbil due to current incidents in Iraq.

Other major airlines took similar steps earlier. Singapore Airlines said in a statement Wednesday that its flights into and out of Europe have been diverted from Iranian airspace, adding that it was "monitoring the situation closely and will make the appropriate adjustments to our routes if necessary."

Taiwan's EVA Air said the carrier's European flights began avoiding flying over Iran early Wednesday morning Taiwan time to ensure safety.

Malaysia Airlines said in a statement Wednesday that due to recent events, it "will be avoiding the conflict airspace of Iran."

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice restricting non-military US aircraft "from operating in the airspace over Iraq, Iran, and the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman."

The Russian Federal Air Transport Agency issued a recommendation to all Russian airlines to avoid using Iranian and Iraqi airspace, state-run news agency TASS reports.

4:41 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Iran's Zarif urges the US to "come to its senses and stop its adventurism in this region"

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said it was up to the United States to “come to its senses,” hailing Iranian response to the US strike that killed general Qasem Soleimani.

“We showed everyone we are not the United States, we don’t want war,” Zarif told journalists in Tehran on Wednesday.

He said:

It is up to the United States to now come to its senses and stop its adventurism in this region.
We did not start this process of escalation, the United States waged an economic war against Iran.

Zarid said the number of people in the streets of many Iranian cities over the past few days was “unprecedented,” calling the crowds “a sea of humanity”.

Earlier, Zarif said on Twitter that Iran "took and concluded" self-defence measures against the US.

Iran’s Minister of Information, Mohammed-Javad Azari Jahromi, who has previously described US President Donald Trump as a "terrorist in a suit", joined Zarif in calling for the US to withdraw from the region.

3:45 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

Here are the most significant weapons in the US military arsenal

With almost 3 million service members, 4,800 defense sites on seven continents and an annual budget of more than $700 billion, the US military is considered the world's premier fighting force.

Click here for a look at some of its most important weaponry.

An F/A-18 fighter jet aboard a US aircraft carrier.
An F/A-18 fighter jet aboard a US aircraft carrier. Photo: Lindsay A. Preston/U.S. Navy/File

3:22 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

UK condemns attack on Iraqi military bases

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has condemned the Iranian attack on military bases in Iraq, urging Tehran to pursue an “urgent” de-escalation of tensions in the region.

“We condemn this attack on Iraqi military bases hosting Coalition – including British – forces,” Raab said in a statement issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The statement continued:

"We are concerned by reports of casualties and the use of ballistic missiles” the Foreign Secretary added. US and Iraqi sources have told CNN that, at this time, there are no known casualties as a result of the strikes."

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (R) walks towards 10 Downing Street on January 6, 2020.
UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (R) walks towards 10 Downing Street on January 6, 2020. Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

According to a statement issued by the Iraqi military, Iraq came under an attack of 22 missiles, 17 of which hit the al-Asad Air base in Anbar province in the western region of country. Five missiles hit Erbil province in northern Iraq, the statement said.

“We urge Iran not to repeat these reckless and dangerous attacks, and instead to pursue urgent de-escalation,” Raab added, warning that a war in the Middle East “would only benefit Daesh [ISIS]” and other terrorist organisations.

3:14 a.m. ET, January 8, 2020

US embassy in Jordan tells personnel to stay home

The American Embassy in Jordan has advised US government personnel to stay at home.

The embassy said personnel should “avoid non-essential movements outside the home on January 8, including keeping children home from school.”

This is “out of abundance of caution,” said the embassy, which remains open.

It also advised American citizens to keep a low profile, be aware of surroundings, stay alert in locations frequented by tourists, review personal security plans, and to have travel documents up to date and easily accessible.