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Oil Markets Are Focused on Supply, Demand, and Israel

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Oil markets were looking at two things this week (and likely next week): The eternal debate on supply and demand, and an Israel-Lebanon war that requires only a very small push to move it into full-on conflict mode. 

Late on Thursday, Washington said it was making preparations to evacuate American citizens from Lebanon should that become necessary. Defense sources told the media that the Pentagon had moved an amphibious assault ship and special operations forces closer to Israel. At the same time, Israeli military officials have suggested that Hamas is almost defeated and the plan is to shift the conflict to the northern border with Lebanon. 

Potentially the bigger concern here is a fear that no one has control. Even if Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp isn’t planning to escalate things (alongside Israeli escalation), the pro-Iranian militias in Iraq have already vowed to send fighters and weapons to Lebanon in the event of an Israeli incursion. However, their vow could be interpreted more as a threat to escalate things with Israel even if Lebanon, and Hezbollah itself, want to dial things down. Iran doesn’t have full control over its Iraqi proxies (or Hezbollah). And presidential elections in Iran add additional pressure and complications.  

For Iran, timing will be critical. If the Iraqi militias move to escalate, Tehran will likely intervene, but only after an initial move has been made, which could be the trigger for an all-out war. 

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