AIn view of a possible Iranian retaliatory strike against Israel approaching, the Foreign Office in Berlin has asked all German nationals in Iran to leave the country. At the same time, it warned against traveling to Iran. “The current tensions in the region, particularly between Israel and Iran, pose the risk of a sudden escalation,” the Foreign Office said on Friday evening. Accordingly, the security situation can deteriorate quickly and without warning. “It cannot be ruled out that air, land and sea transport routes could also be affected by an escalation, with corresponding possible impairments of travel to and from Iran,” it said. Austria also called on its compatriots to leave the country. Several countries, including Great Britain and France, had previously issued travel warnings.

US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he expected an attack to occur “sooner rather than later”. But he did not want to comment on intelligence information. He also warned Iran. When asked by a journalist what his message was to Tehran, Biden said in Washington: “Leave it.” According to a media report, the leadership in Tehran in turn warned Washington against interfering in the confrontation between Israel and Iran. There is growing concern that the escalation could escalate into a regional conflagration.

The USA is now increasing its military presence in the region. “We are moving additional resources to the region to strengthen regional deterrence efforts and increase troop protection for US forces,” a US defense official told the German Press Agency on Friday in Washington.

On April 1, two brigadier generals and five other members of the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy compound in the Syrian capital Damascus. Since then, the Iranian leadership has repeatedly threatened retaliation. Israel must be punished, Iran's head of state Ayatollah Ali Khamenei confirmed on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Germany's Lufthansa extended the suspension of scheduled flights to and from the Iranian capital Tehran until Thursday.

Israel and USA: shoulder to shoulder

Against the backdrop of the Iranian threat, Israel and the USA are moving closer together. The commander in chief of the US regional command Centcom, General Michael Erik Kurilla, arrived in Israel on Thursday for a visit. “Our enemies believe they can divide Israel and the US,” Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant said on Friday after meeting Kurilla. “But the opposite is true,” he said. “They bring us closer together and strengthen our bonds. We stand shoulder to shoulder.” US President Biden had already promised Israel the “iron support” of the USA on Thursday if Iran carried out its threats of attack. “We are committed to the defense of Israel,” he said Friday. “We will help defend Israel, and Iran will not succeed.”

Biden's relationship with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has recently been severely strained. The US president took exception to Netanyahu's refusal to change his policy on the Gaza war. From the US perspective, the Israeli leadership is not doing enough to provide sufficient humanitarian aid to the suffering Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip. Washington also criticizes the fact that Netanyahu shows no willingness to present a coherent concept for the administration of the Gaza Strip – preferably supported by Palestinians – after the end of the Gaza war.

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