Oil Markets Dismiss Attacks on U.S. Embassies

The attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East haven't raised the cost of oil.

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Yemeni protesters gather around a fire set during a demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Sanaa.

Gregg Laskoski is a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com

It was only one week ago that we learned of the slaying of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens; Sean Smith, an information officer; and two U.S. Marines during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Eight other Americans were wounded. Stevens was the first U.S diplomat to die in the line of duty since 1979 and the assault came on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 al Qaeda terrorist attack on the United States.

Published reports from The Independent in the United Kingdom said the attack was well organized and that hundreds were readily engaged with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Additionally, the news organization said the U.S. State Department was forewarned three days in advance of "rapidly deteriorating security" in Benghazi and the potential for imminent attack on American consulate facilities Benghazi, Cairo, and throughout the Middle East. 

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In Cairo on the same day police watched anti-American rioting at the U.S. embassy where participants seemingly burned the U.S. flag with impunity. Similar incidents threatened diplomatic security at American consulates in Gaza City and Tunis. Hundreds more stormed the U.S. embassy in Yemen and police thwarted that attack with tear gas. In Iraq protesters also burned the American flag, and carried banners reading, "We reject the attack on the prophet Mohammed." In Iran, 500 or more reportedly chanted, "Death to America," when they gathered at the Swiss Embassy, which hosts U.S. diplomatic interests there. More of the same occurred in Morocco.    

Of course, with all of this occurring we haven't said a word about what might be brewing between Israel and Iran. And remarkably, we see NYMEX crude oil during this fragile period trading between $96 and $100 per barrel, hardly the broad swath that seemingly lesser incidents might have yielded in years past. 

What does it really mean? Have rumors of impending action that could release fuel from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve craftily muted the impact of anti-American, anti-capitalism sentiment throughout the Middle East? Or, have we grown so accustomed to being spat upon by the same countries we give gobs of money to that markets no longer flinch when gunfire erupts and Americans return home, once again, in caskets?     

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