Iran has vowed ‘severe vengeance’ following today’s assassination of Iran’s Military Commander Qasem Soleimani by the USA. Whilst war is not in the interests of either party, it is prudent to assume that a response will follow and its method likely to be designed to surprise. If it comes, this response could come at any time with strikes against targets within the Middle East or other ‘soft targets’ such as public gatherings (sporting events) or any venue (Bar’s, Restaurants, mass transport systems etc) frequented by US or other westerners, anywhere in the world. Public utilities and cyber attacks against IT or industrial control systems are also possible. The response could come directly from the Iranian Military or directed via an extensive network of aligned third parties around the world.
The following precautionary measures are offered for consideration but are not exhaustive. You should expect the unexpected and:
Do not travel to Iran or Iraq; if in country, you should leave as soon as possible.
Suspend non-essential travel to the Middle East until further notice.
o Withdraw non essential staff and families from Iraq and consider repatriating those in the Middle East.
o Review building and domestic security. Implement baggage and package checks at or before building entry points. Vehicles to be searched and parked clear of key structures and critical utilities / service points.
o Review country evacuation ‘triggers’ and emergency response plans and associated procedures.
o Implement ‘Journey Management’ procedures to ensure the location of everybody is known and they can be contacted at all times.
o Refresh risk assessments. Conduct drills and exercises to improve preparedness.
o Maintain a stock pile of food / water etc
Monitor your national governments travel advice and ensure your travel insurance is valid and includes medical evacuation by air and country evacuation. For UK Nationals see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/iraq.
Ensure you pack and carry a ‘Go Bag’ containing essentials including passport, cash / credit cards, snacks, water, spare clothing etc at all times.
Setup emergency communications procedures and safety check calls at regular intervals with your company overseas HQ and / or family at home.
Travellers should register and liaise with National Embassies ‘in country’.
Avoid crowded areas and venue’s popular with westerners.
Be vigilant, and alert to unattended bags and report any suspicious activities to the authorities.
Maintain situational awareness at all times, note emergency exits and consider ‘what if’ scenarios. Have a plan. Decide how to respond, which way to go if something happens and agree with others where to meet after escape.
Be prepared for loss of:
o Mobile phone and land-line communications. Use satellite messaging tracking and / or telephone.
o Public Utilities
o Petroleum products
For those travelling overland, (or by sea and / or air) planning considerations are available at www.tiptoeoverland.com