As the bloc’s 12 oil ministers meet in Vienna, the march of Isil jihadists in the Middle East is putting Iran and Saudi Arabia on a collision course with explosive consequences
By Andrew Critchlow for The Telegraph:
Thick black smoke rising from the Baiji oil refinery could be seen as a dirty smudge on the horizon as far away as Baghdad after fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) set fire to the enormous processing plant just over 100 miles north of the capital last week.
The decision to torch the refinery, which once produced around a third of Iraq’s domestic fuel supplies, was made as the insurgents prepared to pull out of Baiji, which they captured last June in a victory that sent shock waves across world oil markets.
A year on from the start of the siege and a shaky alliance of the Middle East’s major Arab powers, with the limited support of the reluctant US government, has failed to contain the expansion of ISIL.
The problem for the US and the rest of the industrialized world is that the Middle East controls 60pc of proven oil reserves and with it the keys to the global economy. Should ISIL capture a major oil field in Iraq, or overwhelming the government, the consequences for energy markets and the financial system would be potentially catastrophic.
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