There is never a dull moment in the Middle East. And hence the prices of crude oil, produced mainly from this ever turbulent region, are always hanging in the balance. And as one oil trading expert put it, everybody wants calm when they are talking about pricing energy. But, calm is a missing word in the Middle East lexicon.
As expected, oil prices hit new highs in the aftermath of the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, last December, which raised usual concerns about political stability in the entire Middle East. The anticipated killing, which claimed the lives of 20 others at a campaign rally, catapulted prices to touch and even exceed the $100 mark for the first time in decades.
The assassination coincided with a fall in oil supplies by 1.3 million barrels, according to the American Energy Department Information administration, due to bad, foggy weather which prevented oil tankers from entering the Huston Ship Channel and delivering their cargoes. The oil market traders were already holding their breath during the military tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, which helped prices to soar two months ago.
Despite the fact that Southern Asia, where Pakistan is located, is not a major oil-exporting region, but the death of Bhutto highlighted geopolitical tensions in the entire Middle East, according to analysts.
No wonder then that gold price also hit new highs, since gold and crude oil are widely considered as safe investments in times of global political uncertainty.
The murder of the former Pakistani prime minister who was campaigning for parliamentary elections stunned leaders around the world who called upon all Pakistani parties to keep calm. American and European top officials stressed that extremists, who are widely believed to behind the assassination of Bhutto, said that extremists must not be allowed to destabilize the nuclear-armed nation. Bhutto launched a harsh critique against extremists in Pakistan and vowed to eliminate them once she came to power. But she was killed before honoring its promise.