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Oil Prices Rise For Third Session; Surgical Strike Against Iran Suggested

DESPARDES News Monitor – A state-aligned Saudi newspaper is calling for “surgical” U.S. strikes in retaliation against alleged threats from Iran.

The Arab News published an editorial in English on Thursday, arguing that after incidents this week against Saudi energy targets, the next logical step “should be surgical strikes.”

The editorial says U.S. airstrikes in Syria, when the government there was suspected of using chemical weapons against civilians, “set a precedent.”

It added that it’s “clear that (U.S.) sanctions are not sending the right message” and that “they must be hit hard,” in reference to Iran, without elaborating on what specific targets should be struck.

The newspaper’s publisher is the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, a company that had long been chaired by various sons of King Salman until 2014 and is regarded as reflecting official position.

Oil prices rose on Thursday for a third day running as fears of supply disruption amid heightened tensions in the Middle East overshadowed swelling U.S. crude inventories.

Brent crude futures were up $1.03 at $72.80 a barrel by 1344 GMT, heading for the biggest weekly rise in about three months.

According to market observers, oil is drawing support from the risk of conflict in the Middle East with helicopters carrying U.S. staff from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday out of apparent concern over perceived threats from Iran.

Uncertainty over OPEC supply is helping to cap gains.

Renowned BBC Energy Analyst Rashid Husain Syed says, “Fireworks have begun. Crude prices (are) in for jump. Trump is faced with a precarious situation. This may destroy the Iranian economy, yet, the price at the next door gas station (in USA) may continue to haunt him for sometime to come.”

“Let’s wait for his next move. The thing to watch: Is Trump going to get the temperature down against the advice of Boltons and Pompoes or let the fire rage?,” Syed added.

President Trump disputes report, according to MSNBC, that officials have been considering a plan to potentially send 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter Iran, if necessary: “If we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.”

The latest tension between the US and allies, and Iran puts the world’s biggest oil shipping chokepoint, the Strait Hormuz, in spotlight- one third of the world’s oil traffic passes through it.

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