Over the past month, most security professionals will have been keeping a close eye on the rising tensions in the Middle East.

Sparks initially flared on the 3rd of January when a US airstrike on Baghdad airport killed a top Iranian military commander.

US forces carried out the targeted attack on Qassem Soleimani — head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force — at the direction of President Donald Trump, who accused the general of developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and overseas.

The assassination was a major escalation in already deteriorating relations between Iran and the US.

A swift response

Iran vowed “severe revenge” for the death of Soleimani, and the country carried out a ballistic missile attack on airbases housing US forces on the 8th of January in retaliation.

More than a dozen missiles launched from Iran struck two air bases in Irbil and Al Asad, west of Baghdad. The initial response from Washington implied there had not been any casualties. However, reports later indicated that 11 service members had required medical treatment outside of Iraq.

The attack is the most direct assault by Iran on the US since the seizing of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. Both Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani said the country’s final response to Soleimani’s assassination would be to end the US presence in the region. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also warned US allies that their bases could be targeted, too.

Ramping up security measures

With the heightened threat levels, security measures have been ramped up — both in the Middle East and the US.

In the wake of the assassination, the US embassy in Baghdad issued a security alert urging American citizens to depart Iraq immediately, as Washington and its allies scrambled to protect themselves against a possible military response.

The statement also specified US citizens should not approach the embassy and that all public consular operations were suspended until further notice due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the compound.

Several other US diplomatic missions, including the UK, are advising against all travel to Iran and most of Iraq and warning citizens to be aware of their surroundings when travelling in the region. Germany’s defence ministry has also ordered its soldiers in Iraq not to leave their bases.

Physical security measures have been stepped up at various high-risk targets, too. US embassies in the region have increased their security with advanced screening and tighter controls around the perimeter.

In the US, tensions are also affecting operations at Fort Campbell, with the army strengthening security at all gates until further notice to make it much more difficult to gain access.

All visitors — including pedestrians and drivers — to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia will now also need to present an ID, as the landmark reinforces its physical security. The military cemetery will have increased visibility and vigilance at different entry points in response to the current situation with Iran.

Many major American cities have also ramped up security measures and increased police presence in anticipation of asymmetrical attacks carried out by proxies located abroad.

Advanced security solutions

Although tensions now seem to be subsiding, there is still a very real possibility of an attack against Western interests and the security situation in the region could worsen with little warning.

It is, therefore, essential for military and government officials in the area to work closely with security professionals to bolster defences. Rapidly deployable screening solutions designed for ease of transportation and installation are ideal in these volatile situations.

The 2X-300 vehicle scanner has been developed to meet the fast-moving demands for vehicle screening at border checkpoints, government facilities, military bases, secure facilities and checkpoints. Capable of scanning cars, vans and small buses, the 2X-300 provides excellent, fast and easy imaging tools for detecting threats such as weapons and explosives.

2X Systems delivers globally. To discuss your security requirements, contact the team today.