ROME — The U.S. State Department has issued a series of alerts for American citizens abroad, citing “heightened tension in the Middle East” after the drone strike on Irani General Qasem Soleimani.
In Italy, for example, the U.S. Embassy in Rome sent out an email message to Americans urging them to “keep a low profile” since increased tensions in the Middle East “may result in security risks to U.S. citizens abroad.”
Other actions to be taken include greater awareness of your surroundings, alertness in locations frequented by tourists, a review of personal security plans, and having travel documents “up to date and easily accessible.”
The U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem is urging greater care still.
In a January 6 security alert for Israel, West Bank and Gaza, the embassy “strongly encourages U.S. citizens to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness, as security incidents, including rocket fire, often take place without warning.”
Although the alert reportedly is issued “out of an abundance of caution,” the Embassy went on to enumerate some very concrete threats.
“In the event of mortar or rocket fire, a red alert siren may be activated,” it said. “Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space.”
Regarding Iran itself, the State Department has issued a level-four travel advisory urging Americans not to travel to Iran “due to the risk of kidnapping, arrest, detention of U.S. citizens.”
To drive the point home, the government suggests that those who intend to travel to Iran “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.”
“Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.”, it states.