Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spent the past three decades sounding the alarm about Iran’s nuclear program and threatening to attack the country on countless occasions. Most recently in September, he said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly that Tehran must face a “credible nuclear threat” before his office corrected the record to “credible military threat”.
After Hamas’s attack on October 7, Netanyahu may finally be able to act on his threats. The gruesome scenes in southern Israel have provided the Israeli prime minister with the necessary pretext and international backing for a wider response.
Netanyahu has both a political and a personal stake in all this. A drawn-out regional conflict would block or at least postpone any official accountability for his utter failure to prevent Hamas’s attack from happening in the first place and could also put his multiple indictments on corruption charges on an indefinite hold.
There’s also a risk, according to some analysts, that Iran itself could disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.
This critical waterway separates the Persian Gulf from the Arabian Sea and about 20 percent of world’s oil is shipped through here.
Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said “Iran remains a very big wild card”.
“We will be watching how strongly [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu blames Tehran for facilitating these attacks by providing Hamas with weapons and logistical support,” she said earlier this week.
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Hedge-fund manager Pierre Andurand, one of the world’s best energy traders, said in a social-media post that what happens in Iran is being closely watched by market players.
“As Iran is also behind Hamas’ attacks on Israel, there is a good probability that the US administration will start enforcing those sanctions on Iranian oil exports more tightly,” he wrote.
“That would further tighten the oil market. Also, the probability that this will lead to direct conflict with Iran is not zero.”
A long-standing backer of both Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian warned that opening other fronts in the Israel-Hamas war was a “real possibility” as Israel intensified its retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip, sparking fears that the conflict would turn into a regional war.
“With the continuation of aggression, war crimes and the siege of Gaza, the opening of other fronts is a real possibility,” Amir-Abdollahian said late Thursday upon arriving in Beirut, Lebanon, where he traveled to meet leaders of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
“I will discuss the situation in Gaza with the Lebanese authorities,” Amir-Abdollahian said. “Iran strongly continues its political and media support for the Palestinian resistance.”
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