Evacuation is among immediate measures being planned “which can proceed without waiting for [my] order,” Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said yesterday (Jan 6).
“All Thais there must be safe,” he told reporters who asked him to assess the volatile situation in the Middle East.
Currently 257 Thai people are working in Iran and 25 others in Iraq, according to the Labour Ministry. Most of them are working in the restaurant, massage, welding or fishing businesses.
Thai diplomats who oversee Thai labour affairs in Iraq and Iran from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been told to offer help as needed.
“We're preparing to evacuate them if things get worse,” Labour Minister MR Chatu Mongol Sonakul said.
Gen Prayut said he is closely monitoring developments in the Middle East after a US drone attack killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport last Friday (Jan 3).
Soleimani commanded Iran's elite Quds Force and helped mastermind the country's growing military influence in the Middle East. US President Donald Trump ordered the operation, claiming the Iranian general had been planning an “imminent” attack on US diplomats and the roughly 5,200 American troops stationed in Baghdad.
The Foreign Ministry said Thailand joined the international community in calling on all parties concerned to exercise maximum restraint, avoid further provocation and refrain from the use of force, in order to de-escalate tension and to maintain peace and stability in the region.
“I've told officials to reinforce security at key embassies in Bangkok,” Gen Prayut said.
Officers attached to the Metropolitan Police Division 5 have been ordered to keep an eye on the US and Iranian embassies, which are located in its jurisdiction in the Lumpini and Thong Lor areas, the division chief Pol Maj Gen Samat Sisiriwibunchai said.
Gen Prayut also expressed concern over economic fallout from the US-Iranian conflict, especially on oil prices.
“The government cannot avoid this responsibility [to respond],” the prime minister said.
Oil prices soared by nearly 4% on Friday and are likely to rise further unless the situation eases in the near term, according to Trade Policy and Strategy Office chief Pimchanok Vonkorpon.