As the Belgian capital, Brussels, deals with the immediate aftermath of coordinated terrorist attacks on the international airport and subway system that killed as many as 34 people and wounded 180 others, as ISIS attacks stretch from Turkey to Brussels.
On Tuesday morning, two bomb attacks targeted the Zaventem Airport, killing 11 people, and a third targeted a metro station near European Union headquarters, killing 20 people, while reports of a fourth explosion have now begun to emerge in what appears to be the controlled explosion of a device, with no further details at this time.
The bombings targeted the departures of the airport, which has now been cleared out by emergency security forces, while the city’s entire metro system remains on lockdown. Related: Supply Outages in OPEC Countries Push Up Oil Prices
EU Council meetings scheduled for Tuesday have been reportedly cancelled, while the EU Parliament has not been evacuated, but remains on high alert.
The country’s two nuclear power plants are also being evacuated of all non-essential personnel as a precaution, and surveillance and security have been stepped up. This precaution is being taken due to video footage discovered after the Paris terrorist attacks showed a senior Belgian nuclear official at the property of a key suspect.
This is Paris 2.0. The main suspect in the November bombings in Paris, Salah Abdeslam, was captured in Brussels on Friday.
So far, we have learned from Belgian media reports that the airport attack was a suicide bombing. Related: What Happens When Oil Hits $50?
The Belgian interior minister had warned on Friday that the arrest could lead to a revenge attack and that the country should be on high alert, as “stopping one cell can … push others into action.”
Oil prices immediately responded downward to the news of the attacks in Brussels, with investors looking instead for safer commodities, such as gold and government bonds.
Brent crude fell 14 cents this morning to $41.40 per barrel. By late morning, Brent crude futures were down 16 cents to $41.38 per barrel. By around noon, both WTI and Brent had jumped back a bit, with WTI up 0.1 percent to $41.54 per barrel and Brent up 0.4 percent to $41.69 per barrel. Related: Have Oil Markets Grown Numb To Supply Disruptions?
The Brussels attacks come right after a terrorist attack in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, over the weekend, and also shortly after the European Union struck a deal with Turkey. Turkey agreed to take back refugees and asylum seekers landing in Greece, thereby closing off this particular human smuggling route. In return, the EU will give Turkey 6 billion euros in aid to help 2.7 million Syrian refugees now in Turkey. Turkey is also trading in here on an eased European visa regime for its citizens.
The string of attacks—all fallout from the Syrian conflict and the fight against the Islamic State—from Paris and Ankara to Istanbul, and now Brussels, suggests the range of targets from the terrorist group are widening.
Talk of closed borders, unrest leading to riots and the overall viability of the European Union is intensifying and the security situation, and the political fallout could be significant.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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