The US government launched airstrikes in Syria last night targeting military infrastructure controlled by the country’s president Bashar al-Assad.
The strikes were in response to a chemical attack that killed at least 80 people in Syria on Monday.
This is the first time the US has launched air strikes on the Assad regime, according to the Pentagon. President Donald Trump said:
“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”
The price of oil rose sharply in response to the strikes, hitting a one-month high in the US. Brent crude futures were up to $55.27 a barrel, the highest price since early March, and US West Texas Intermediate crude futures reached a high of $52.94.
The action in the Middle East has caused a rise in uncertainty in the oil market, particularly in terms of how extensive these strikes could be, Abhishek Deshpande, chief energy analyst at Global Markets Research, told Verdict.
“Even though Syria is not a major oil producer, being part of the Middle East, a geopolitical risk premium is attached to oil. This was the first direct US attack on Assad’s Syrian government and is clearly a sign of rising tensions in the Middle East, but also between the US and Russia here, “ said Deshpande.
In the past, oil markets have often reacted to military intervention in the region, but the potential rise in tensions between the US and Russia over Syria is also a cause for concern. Moscow has said the airstrikes are a “significant blow to Russian-US relations,” and is reportedly going to strengthen its own air defences in Syria.
In this instance, oil shot up two percent, though this could potentially rise in the future, even breaking the $60 a barrel barrier in 2017.
“It depends how quickly this escalate into a potential proxy war between US and Russia,” said Deshpande. “It may not stay up there for long, though, if the situation diffuses quickly.”
Reuters has reported that the UN security council will meet later today to discuss the airstrikes. Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau has come out in support of Trump’s action, alongside the Jordanian administration and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron.