Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said Bahamian officials are monitoring the conflict between the United States and Iran but they do not think that Bahamians travelling around the world need to be on special alert.
On Friday, the United States announced it killed Major General Qassim Suleimani, the leader of the Qds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and, experts said, the second most powerful person in Iran. In recent days, hundreds of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets to mourn his passing. The killing has raised concerns about a wider conflict and Iran’s government has vowed revenge.
Mr Henfield told reporters yesterday: “We’re watching it very closely for any fallout that may come from it, economically or otherwise. We’re watching it very closely for the security posture that we have to take. We spoke with the American embassy, our commissioner of police, the commander of the defence force, we’re talking to them about any need to beef up security in the interim until this thing cools down.”
He added: “The elimination of General Qasem Soleimani has, of course, resulted in a lot of things happening between the United States and Iran. If you watched the news you’ve seen what looks like hundreds of thousands of Iranians in the streets as they bury General Soleimani as a martyr. For us, we are close strategic partners of the United States of America. Our proximity to America also dictates that we are paying close attention to what is going on. We’ve seen world markets, we’ve seen stock markets, and we’re hoping that this thing de-escalates before it moves any further. We’re hoping that both countries can remain calm and perhaps a third party of good faith can step in and mediate to cool heads a bit.”
Mr Henfield said it is not this country’s place to express support or opposition to the US strike.
“I think we’re always concerned when there’s a possibility of conflict in the world of this magnitude, but as far as it relates to Bahamians travelling I think (there is no special concern),” he said.
“We’ve been speaking with the American embassy, we’ve spoken to their security concerns and issues, the Bahamas attracts a lot of tourists annually from the United States of America and, of course, we’ll do all we can to keep them safe while they’re here in the Bahamas. I say to Bahamians all the time, wherever we travel in the world in this era of terrorism and similar type incidents, you should always be alert. If you see something you should say something, but we’re not particularly concerned about Bahamians travelling to the United States of America during this time of unrest between the United States and Iran.”