The Federal Aviation Administration has warned all American air carriers to “exercise caution” when flying over the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, saying that civilian aircraft are at “increasing” risk because of the escalating political tensions in the region.
In an advisory issued on Thursday, the agency directed commercial airliners and all operators of United States-registered aircraft to be careful when flying over the Persian Gulf because of “heightened military activities and increased political tensions” there.
Those frictions “present an increasing inadvertent risk to U.S. civil aviation operations due to the potential for miscalculation or mis-identification,” it said.
On Monday, four oil tankers at the mouth of the Persian Gulf were reported attacked. Two of the tankers belong to Saudi Arabia, one belongs to a Norwegian company and the other to the United Arab Emirates.
The unconfirmed attacks came as the United States tightened its sanctions against Iran and sent bombers, an aircraft carrier and an antimissile battery to the Persian Gulf to offset what the Trump administration called a heightened risk of Iranian aggression.
On Wednesday, the State Department ordered an evacuation of “non-essential U.S. government employees” from both the United States Embassy in Baghdad and the United States Consulate in Erbil. One senior American official considered the move an overreaction to intelligence received by the United States about Iran and said the move could endanger diplomats more than protect them.
The F.A.A.’s warning specifically mentioned practicing caution when flying in the airspace over Tehran, Baghdad, Kuwait and Bahrain, among others.
On Saturday, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, said Tehran could defeat Washington in an intelligence war, according to Fars, a semiofficial Iranian news agency.
“They believed that the more they increased the pressures, the more the Iranians” would be reluctant to react, General Salami said. “But the Islamic Republic caused a collapse of their assumptions by means of its recent decision-makings and moves.”