US Warns Airliners Flying in Arabian Gulf amid Iran Tensions

U.S. diplomats warned Saturday that commercial airliners flying over the wider Arabian Gulf faced a risk of being "misidentified" amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.
The warning relayed by U.S. diplomatic posts from the Federal Aviation Administration underlined the risks the current tensions pose to a region crucial to global air travel. It also came as Lloyd's of London warned of increasing risks to maritime shipping in the region.
Concerns about a possible conflict have flared since the White House ordered warships and bombers to the region to counter a threat from Iran that has seen America order nonessential diplomatic staff out of Iraq. President Donald Trump since has sought to soften his tone.
Meanwhile, a sabotage operation targeted four oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, and Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for a drone attack on a crucial Saudi oil pipeline.
This all takes root in Trump's decision last year to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and world powers and impose wide-reaching sanctions. Iran just announced it would begin backing away from terms of the deal, setting a 60-day deadline for Europe to come up with new terms or it would begin enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels. 
The order relayed Saturday by U.S. diplomats in Kuwait and the UAE came from an FAA Notice to Airmen published late Thursday in the U.S. It said that all commercial aircraft flying over the waters of Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman needed to be aware of "heightened military activities and increased political tension."
This presents "an increasing inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or misidentification," the warning said. It also said aircraft could experience interference with its navigation instruments and communications jamming "with little to no warning."
The Arabian Gulf has become a major gateway for East-West travel in the aviation industry. Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates, home to Emirates, is the world's busiest for international travel, while long-haul carriers Etihad and Qatar Airways also operate here.
In a statement, Emirates said it was aware of the notice and in touch with authorities worldwide, but "at this time there are no changes to our flight operations."
Qatar Airways similarly said it was aware of the notice and its operations were unaffected.
The warning appeared rooted in what happened 30 years ago after Operation Praying Mantis, a daylong naval battle in the Arabian Gulf between American forces and Iran during the country's long 1980s war with Iraq. 
Meanwhile, Lloyd's Market Association Joint War Committee added the Arabian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the United Arab Emirates on Friday to its list of areas posing a higher risk to insurers.
The USS Abraham Lincoln and its carrier strike group have yet to reach the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Arabian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded at sea passes. A Revolutionary Guard deputy has warned that any armed conflict would affect the global energy market. Iran long has threatened to be able to shut off the strait.
Benchmark Brent crude now stands around $72 a barrel.


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