London, Dec 29 (ANI): The British armed forces are reportedly drawing up contingency plans to evacuate thousands of British residents and tourists from Dubai and other Gulf cities over fears of war with Iran.
Plans are being made to evacuate Britons to Oman, which is not currently in Iran's sights, and other neighbouring countries.
The Coalition government under Prime Minister David Cameron had reportedly ordered an immediate review of British military planning in the Gulf after the election last May.
According to The Telegraph, new proposals are being drawn up to coordinate military activity in the region with local allies hostile to Iran, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Since the previous review in the 1990s, the British population has grown to more than 100,000 in the UAE alone. Besides, a million British tourists, from businessmen on stopovers to England footballers with marital problems, come to Dubai every year.
It is feared they might be at risk ifIran retaliates for any military strikes on its nuclear sites with missile attacks on "western interests" in the Gulf, the paper said.
Last year, the United Nations, the US and Europe have all imposed heavy sanctions on Iran. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, was one of a number of regional Arab leaders revealed in Wikileaks cables to have been pressing for even tougher action.
According to diplomats, he has also been the key mover, along with William Hague, the foreign secretary, in demanding an upgrading of Britain's traditional military ties with its former colonial protectorates in the Gulf. He has also personally raised the issue of the safety of the foreign population, which makes up 70 per cent of the UAE's 4.5 million residents.
The new military co-operation plan, whose full terms remain secret, would reportedly be signed in the first half of 2011, during Cameron's expected visit to that country.
The plan is also expected to include an offer from Britain to help to keep vital infrastructure such as electricity and water desalination plants running in the event of war. (ANI)