debkafile Exclusive: US financial sources in Bahrain report American investors in Bahrain advised to pack up business operations and leave
The advice came from officers with US Central Command 5th Fleet HQ at Manama, who spoke of security tension, a hint at an approaching war with Iran. Arab sources report the positioning of a Patriot anti-missile battery in Bahrain this week; they say occupancy at emirate hotels has soared past 90% due mostly to the influx of US military personnel. They also report Western media crews normally employed in military coverage are arriving in packs.
Thursday, March 29, Gen. Khaled al-‘Absi, Bahrain’s chief of air defense operations disclosed that new alarm networks had been installed and air defense systems upgraded to handle chemical, biological and radioactive attacks.
The USS Nimitz and its support ships will be departing San Diego Monday, April 2, to join the John C. Stennis Strike Group in the Persian Gulf. The nuclear carrier is due to relieve the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, but military sources in the Gulf believe all three US carriers will stay put if tensions continue to climb or if fighting breaks out involving American, British and Iranian forces.
The mighty American armada is further supported by the USS Bataan and USS Boxer strike groups.
War tensions have been triggered most recently by the crisis over the seized British sailors and large-scale US sea, air and amphibious exercises in the Gulf.
1. debkafile‘s Tehran sources report that in the contest within the Iranian leadership over how to handle the affair of the captured British seamen, the wildest radical element has gained the upper hand, reducing the prospects of their imminent release. Heading the tough Tehran faction are hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Gen. Rahim Safavi, commander of the Revolutionary Guards whose naval wing performed the seizure.
They gained strength from the British premier Tony Blair’s initial passive, semi-conciliatory response. Tehran quickly grasped it had acquired not just a propaganda tool but a military asset, which the UK cannot match as long as the Americans desist from throwing their military might into the fray. Washington has refused to risk of a full-scale war confrontation with the Revolutionary Guards for the sake of the British sailors.
Iranian strategists also registered that, although the Blair government has begun moving mountains to gain the freedom of the marine crew held in Tehran, London appeared fairly laid back about the kidnap of BBC correspondent Alan Johnston in broad daylight by gunmen in Palestinian Gaza, although three weeks had gone by.
Revolutionary Guards serving with Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza no doubt filed a full report on the Johnston case to Tehran, which drew its own conclusions.
2. Taking part in the big demonstration of American naval, air and marine force launched March 27 are the two nuclear carrier strike forces Stennis and Eisenhower, thousands of marines and 100 warplanes. Maneuvers on this scale in the tight, overcrowded waters of the Persian Gulf carry risks of a collision between American and Iranian craft.
debkafile‘s military sources report that the Nimitz group is composed of the Princeton guided-missile cruiser, four guided missile destroyers – the Higgins, Chafee, John Paul Jones and Pinckney. The strike force is armed with two helicopter squadrons and a special unit for dismantling sea mines and other explosive devices.
Earlier, debkafile quoted intelligence sources in Moscow as predicting that a US strike against Iranian nuclear installations codenamed Operation Bite has been scheduled for April 6 at 0040 hours. Missiles and air raids will conduct strikes designed to be devastating enough to set Tehran’s nuclear program several years back.