A senior British official says a Saudi intelligence chief has lobbied the UK to conduct limited strikes on Iranian military targets after US President Donald Trump allegedly cancelled such raids.
The official, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Middle East Eye news portal on Friday that the Saudi intelligence chief had called for Iran strikes during his visit to London alongside Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir.
The Saudi request, however, fell on deaf ears, he said, adding, “Our people were skeptical.” The Saudi intelligence chief was told a plain “no” in response to his plea, the British source said.
According to the source, the Saudi official had tried to link Iran to the June 13 attacks against oil tankers in the Sea of Oman, but his British counterparts were “not impressed” with the evidence provided by the official.
At the weekend, the Saudi intelligence chief will head to Jerusalem al-Quds to engage in similar anti-Iran lobbying efforts with Israeli officials and hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton, he added.
On Thursday, Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down an intruding US surveillance drone in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan.
The following day, the elite military force put into display the wreckage of the American spy drone, which had been retrieved from Iran’s territorial waters.
The unmanned US aircraft had been taken down by Iran’s indigenous Khordad 3 air defense system after it breached the country’s airspace and began gathering intelligence and spying.
In a tweet early on Friday, Trump said that he had initially approved military strikes against Iran, but pulled back just 10 minutes before the attack.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would take the US drone incursion to the UN and show that Washington is “lying” about the downing of its unmanned aircraft in international waters.
Zarif had earlier rejected the US claim of Iran’s involvement in the tanker attacks as part of “sabotage diplomacy” being pursued by Trump and his hawkish allies, including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
On Friday, Trump spoke with bin Salman over the phone about Iran, according to the White House.
Tensions have been running between Iran and the US in recent weeks, with Washington stepping up its provocative military moves in the Middle East.
Tehran believes Washington has a hand in a set of suspicious regional incidents in recent weeks, such as the tanker attacks, in a bid to pin the blame on Iran and put more pressure on the country.