Britain is devising a secret plan to evacuate hundreds of thousands of its residents and tourists from the Persian Gulf region in case of a war against Iran.
The British coalition, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, has ordered an immediate review of military planning in the Persian Gulf and new proposals to be drawn up to coordinate military activity in the region with local allies hostile to Iran, the Daily Telegraph reported on Wednesday.
The decision comes as the previous review back in the 1990s seems way too old as the expatriate British population has boomed in the region, topping 100,000 in the UAE alone, not considering around a million British tourists who travel to Dubai every year.
London fears that a possible retaliatory response from Iran in case of a strike on its nuclear sites might endanger "Western interests" in the Persian Gulf.
This has resulted in an increased British military presence in the waters. This includes regular patrolling of Royal Navy warships across the Persian Gulf and their presence at UAE ports.
Britain's new military cooperation plan, the full terms of which remain secret, will be signed off in early 2011 and is of such a great priority that it is immune from defense cuts.
The plan is expected to include an offer from Britain to help the UAE keep vital infrastructure running in a war. It will also envisage evacuation runs for the British across the border to Oman and other neighboring countries.
This could entail cruise liners stationed in the Gulf of Aden, with Royal Navy warships shuttling people from the small emirate of Fujairah. Extra airfields could also be opened up.
The proposal are expected to stress that embassies in other countries are required to maintain contingency plans for British citizens for all kinds of emergencies.