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US embassy denies report on advisory

April 3, 2007

Bahrain Tribune – 01 April, 2007

The US embassy in Bahrain has denied that it has advised their citizens to leave Bahrain.

Speaking to the Tribune, embassy spokesperson Helen LaFave said, “There has been no announcement by the US embassy which was worded to ask american citizens to leave Bahrain. These are baseless rumours which have sprung out of nowhere.”

Reuters had reported that a senior White House official said on Friday that they had not heard anything about US citizens being advised to leave Bahrain.

The rumours Reuters reported may have stemmed from an embassy note to US residents which was posted on Thursday. The note allegedly advised citizens to avoid being in areas where opposition activists plan to hold protests, which often turn violent.

A website called DEBKAfile had reported on March 30 that US financial sources in Bahrain report American investors in Bahrain advised to pack up business operations and leave.

The advice purportedly came from officers with US Central Command 5th Fleet HQ at Manama, who spoke of security tension, and hinted of an approaching war with Iran. DEBKAfile further stated that Arab sources had reported the positioning of a Patriot anti-missile battery in Bahrain this week. They also said that occupancy at emirate hotels has soared past 90 per cent due mostly to the influx of US military personnel.

Western media crews normally employed in military coverage are arriving in packs it said.

The website alleged that on 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 Tribune had reported yesterday that the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and its support ships are scheduled to depart for the Persian Gulf tomorrow from San Diego.

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.

They alleged that military sources in the Gulf believe that the nuclear carrier will not be relieving the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower as reported but will in fact stay put if tensions continue to climb or if fighting breaks out involving American, British and Iranian forces.

If the report is true then there would be three carriers in the region including John C. Stennis Strike Group. The American armada is further supported by the USS Bataan and USS Boxer strike groups.
War tensions were further triggered by the recent crisis over the seized British sailors and large-scale US sea, air and amphibious exercises in the Gulf, DEBKAfile stated.

DEBKAfile had also 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 programme several years back.

The online free encyclopedia Wikipedia identified DEBKAfile as receiving Forbes’ best of the web award since 2000. Forbes had said that the best part of the website was its archives but decried the fact that “most of the information is attributed to unidentified sources.”

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