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US, EU, others warn: Iran-Israel conflict could destabilise Middle East

Countries around the world Sunday condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, warning that it could destabilize the Middle East. Late Saturday night, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps…

Countries around the world Sunday condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, warning that it could destabilize the Middle East.

Late Saturday night, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that they had launched “dozens of drones and missiles” towards military sites on Israeli territory.

“Iran’s military action was in response to the Zionist regime’s aggression against our diplomatic premises in Damascus” earlier this month,” the Iranian mission to the UN said.

The attack, according to the mission, was “conducted on the strength of Article 51 of the UN Charter pertaining to legitimate defence”.

Israel yesterday confirmed that Iran launched over 300 drones and missiles towards Israel in its unprecedented attack overnight, injuring at least 12 people.

“Last night Iran fired over 300 ballistic missiles, UAVs and cruise missiles towards Israel,” military’s spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari stated.

Hagari said 170 drones and 30 cruise missiles were launched, none of which entered Israeli territory, adding that 110 ballistic missiles were also fired and few of them reached Israel.

In a separate statement, the Israeli military said “dozens of surface-to-surface missile launches” were identified, with the majority intercepted before crossing into Israeli territory.

Israel’s army, however, said it had shot 99 percent of the drones and missiles with the help of the United States and other allies, declaring Iran’s attack “foiled”.

But the Iranian Army Chief of Staff Mohammad Bagheri said the attack “achieved all its objectives”.

Bagheri said Iran’s retaliation targeted an “intelligence centre” and the air base from which Tehran says the Israeli F-35 jets took off to strike the Damascus consulate on April 1.

“Both these centres were significantly destroyed and put out of order,” he said, though Israel maintains that the attack only resulted in minor damage.

“There is no intention to continue this operation,” he said, calling on Israel to avoid taking further action against Iran which according to Bagheri would result in a “much bigger” response.

Over the last two weeks, the Iranian authorities had repeatedly vowed to “punish” Israel after the death of seven Guards including two generals of the Quds Force in the attack that levelled the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, yesterday condemned what he called “the serious escalation represented by the large-scale attack launched on Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran”.

He said he was deeply alarmed about “the very real danger of a devastating region-wide escalation”.

He called on parties to “avoid any action that could lead to major military confrontations on multiple fronts in the Middle East”.

The European Union’s Foreign Affairs Chief, Josep Borrell, said the strikes were “an unprecedented escalation and a grave threat to regional security” in a message on X.

American President Joe Biden yesterday promised “ironclad” support for Israel after holding an urgent meeting with top security officials.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned the “reckless” strikes, which he said “risk inflaming tensions and destabilising the region.

He said Iran had once again “demonstrated that it is intent on sowing chaos in its own backyard.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also condemned the attack and urged restraint.

“I condemn in the strongest terms the unprecedented attack launched by Iran against Israel, which carries the risk of destabilising the region,” Macron said on X.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz described the Iranian attack as “irresponsible and unjustifiable,” saying “Iran risks a regional conflagration,” his spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, said.

Qatar expressed “deep concern” following the strikes and called on “all parties to halt escalation” and “exercise maximum restraint”.

China’s Foreign Ministry also urged restraint, describing the attack as “the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict” and calling for the implementation of a recent UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire there, saying the “conflict must end now”.

After numerous countries condemned Iran’s attack on Israel, Tehran’s foreign ministry yesterday summoned the French British, and German ambassadors “following the irresponsible positions of certain officials of these countries regarding Iran’s response”, a statement from the ministry said.

 

‘Israel records major damage’

The Israeli regime suffered some $100 million worth of damage in the early hours of Iranian missile and drone attacks on Sunday, according to reports from media outlets in the Israeli-occupied territories.

The reports cited by the Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV channel on Sunday said that the damage on Israel had been inflicted mostly on the regime’s missile defence systems as they were trying to intercept drones and missiles fired from Iran.

Israel’s Channel 14 said several missiles had hit Arad, located 45 kilometers from Be’er Sheva, in the south of the occupied territories, injuring several people.

Several missiles also hit the Umm al-Fahm city in the north of the occupied territories, causing rescue workers and medics to rush to the scene.

Several other missiles hit the Negev desert in south of the Israeli-occupied lands.

This was corroborated by a former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, who hailed Iran’s response to a last week Israel attack against Iran’s consulate in Damascus.

He described the response as “eye for an eye”.

He wrote on his official account on X that Iran struck Nevatim air base with at least seven of its new hypersonic missiles.

Nevatim is home to the F-35 fighters that attacked the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Ritter said. Not a single Iranian missile was intercepted, Ritter said, adding that “Israel is defenseless”.

 

Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon reopen airspaces

Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon reopened their airspaces yesterday hours after suspending all air traffic following the Iran’s strike on Israel.

In a statement, the Iraqi civil aviation authority announced “the reopening of the airspace” and resumption of flights to and from airports across the country.

In Jordan, Civil Aviation Commission’s chief, Haitham Misto, told the official Al Mamlaka channel: “The Jordanian airspace has been reopened and the situation has returned to normal.”

Lebanon’s Transport Minister, Ali Hamie ,told AFP that “we have resumed flights since 7 am (0400 GMT), and we’re monitoring the situation.”

Israel, which had closed its airspace on Saturday in anticipation of the Iranian attack, reopened it yesterday.

However, Austrian Airlines told AFP that it had suspended “all flights to Tel Aviv in Israel, Arbil in Iraq and Amman in Jordan with immediate effect” due to “recent developments in the Middle East”.

The airline also said a previously announced suspension of flights to Tehran in Iran would remain in effect until Thursday.

“Long-haul flights passing through the Middle East will also be rerouted”, it said.

 

‘Iran-Israel conflict to push oil price above $90/barrel’

The price of crude oil is expected to rise further above the $90 benchmark today following the Iran’s attack on Israel, analysts said yesterday.

The price of crude oil is often influenced by global events which significantly impact the dynamics of demand and supply.

Concerns over how Iran might respond to a strike on its embassy in Damascus had propped up oil prices last week, with Brent crude reaching a peak of $92.18 a barrel on Friday, the highest since October.  But it later closed at $90.45.

Trading is closed on Sundays. But in line with previous trends, analysts anticipate that a response from Israel could further elevate crude oil prices, surpassing the $90 per barrel benchmark.

Iran, a minerals-rich state for which oil is the major source of revenue, has increased its exports in recent years.

However, tensions with Israel would lead to cutbacks in supply which, in turn, could drive up the price of crude oil in the global market, said a UBS analyst, Giovanni Staunovo.

 

Nigerian crude sells at premium

Nigeria’s Brass River and Qua Iboe traded near $93.89 per barrel while Brent Crude settled at $90.45 per barrel.

This has, however, not translated into higher income for Nigeria amid low production and high operating costs.

Approximately two thirds of Nigeria’s government revenue and 90 percent of its foreign exchange gains come from the country’s oil production.

Nigeria registered additional margins of $15.93 per barrel at the current price of $93.89 per barrel. The country’s 2024 budget was based on a price of $77.96 per barrel, but producing significantly less than the benchmark of 1.78 million barrels per day hurt Nigeria’s economic prospects.

Nigeria Bonny Light also traded at $93.54 per barrel on Friday.

 

Pope cautions against ‘spiral of violence’

Pope Francis yesterday cautioned against a “spiral of violence” after Iran’s attack on Israel, warning of a potential regional conflagration.

“I make a pressing appeal for an end to any action which could fuel a spiral of violence that risks dragging the Middle East into an even greater conflict,” he declared, following his traditional Sunday prayer in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“I am praying and following with concern, but also pain, the news that has come in recent hours about the worsening situation in Israel due to Iran’s intervention,” the pope told worshippers.

“No one should threaten the existence of others. All countries must, however, side with peace and help Israelis and Palestinians to live in two states, side by side and in security,” he said.

 

From Joshua Odeyemi, Sunday Michael Ogwu & Dalhatu Liman

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