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Is the surge against insurgents in Basra an oil plot?

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posted on Mar, 27 2008 @ 11:07 AM
Oil prices have been dropping lately. Coincidently, Iraq has started an offensive against insurgents in Basra.

BAGHDAD - Iraq's prime minister vowed Thursday to fight "until the end" against Shiite militias in Basra despite protests by tens of thousands of followers of a radical cleric in Baghdad and deadly clashes across the capital and the oil-rich south.

Mounting anger focused on Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is personally overseeing operations against the militias dominated by Muqtada al-Sadr's supporters amid a violent power struggle in Basra, Iraq's southern oil hub.

The Iraqi leader made his pledge to tribal leaders in the Basra area as military operations continued for a fourth day with stiff resistance.

"We have made up our minds to enter this battle and we will continue until the end. No retreat," he said in a speech broadcast on Iraqi state TV.

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Oil prices rose with the action in Basra.

Oil prices had been sliding on economic concerns, but are now back above $106 a barrel.

Oil ekes out a slight gain on dollar
NEW YORK - Oil futures rose modestly Tuesday as investors focused on the dollar's latest decline rather than new worries about the economy. Gas and diesel prices, meanwhile, retreated further from their recent record levels.

The dollar's decline against the euro, which ended a greenback rally that began last week, attracted investors back to oil. The U.S. currency's protracted slide was a big contributor to oil's march to nearly $112 in recent weeks; many investors regard oil and other commodities as inflation hedges, and turn to such hard assets when the dollar is falling.

But oil's slight gain was far from definitive, and followed a session in which prices alternated frequently between gains and losses. Investors were rattled by the Conference Board's report that consumer confidence fell much more than expected this month. The drop in confidence intensified the oil market's concerns that consumers hesitant to spend would further weaken the economy and depress demand for fuel. Meanwhile, home prices as measured by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index fell by 11.4 percent in January. The reports raised new questions about the severity of the economic downturn.

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Cheney also recently visited the Middle East.

White House sources confirm that Vice-President Dick Cheney will leave for the Middle East on Sunday on directions of President Bush.

The vice-president will visit Turkey, Israel, the West Bank, Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Cheney's hastily arranged mission comes on the heels of an uptick in violence in Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Israel and Lebanon.

In addition to the violence, the price of oil has risen to unprecedented levels, stalling any recovery in the US economy.

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So, I wonder if the sudden interest in insurgents in Basra is more about shoring up the price of oil than in defeating insurgents.


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