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U.S. Crude Oil And Gasoline Inventories Drop Off

Israel's Plan to Expand Settlements Weakens U.S. Support

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

Tel Aviv added more fuel to the fire in the conflict with Gaza this week by announcing an expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move that prompted a backlash in Washington. The U.S. views the move as a violation of international law and one that promises to further intensify the conflict - including the potential for the conflict to gain momentum in proxy conflict zones. Israel also this week reiterated that it would not retreat until Hamas was completely annihilated.

Iranians headed to the polls on Friday for parliamentary elections for the Assembly of Experts, which in turn chooses the next Supreme Leader. The vote is widely believed to be rigged in favor of the incumbent conservatives. Most Reformists have already been disqualified from running. Former president Rouhani is among those disqualified. The only real vote here is between factions among the hardline conservatives, and overall observers are expecting low voter turnout.

Despite Middle tensions over Israel's aggressive retaliation in Gaza, Israel says its gas exports to Egypt and Jordan rose 25% in 2023, with Tel Aviv noting that this is proof of the strategic value of Israel's newfound gas assets.

On the Red Sea, keep a close eye on reports of Iranian weapons shipments to Sudan (Sudanese Armed Forces), which is embroiled in a civil war. In the same manner that the Iranians are helping Yemen's Houthis arm themselves, they could also expand the…

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