Somehow, I don't find this a good argument for pulling out of the Middle East:
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Chavez to US: Stop your Iran threats
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez advises Washington to stop making threats against Iran and Venezuela in hopes of seeing lower oil prices.
Chavez suggested that wealthy nations, including the United States, can end the surge in oil prices by refraining from blaming crude exporting nations and by pulling their troops out of Iraq.
"They want to blame us: the Arabs and Venezuela. We are not to blame. Withdraw the troops from Iraq and you'll see how oil prices will drop," he said Thursday.
"Stop the threats against Iran and Venezuela, oil-producing countries, and you'll see prices will tend to decline," Chavez said in an address to visiting delegates from Non-Aligned Movement countries.
Oil prices surged to an all-time high of over $146 a barrel on Thursday. Brent peaked at $146.69 before falling back to $146.08; US crude jumped $1.72 to $145.29 after having hit $145.85.
Crude skyrocketed to nearly $144 on Monday over speculation that Israel plans to launch a military strike on Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter.
The New York Times recently quoted Pentagon officials as saying that over 100 Israeli F-16s and F-15s staged a maneuver over the eastern Mediterranean and Greece in early June.
As part of the maneuver, Israeli aircraft flew over 900 miles, roughly the distance from their airfields to a nuclear enrichment facility in the central Iranian city of Natanz.
Asked whether Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz if Israel launches a military strike on the country, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad-Ali Jafari suggested June 28 that Tehran would consider all options.
"When a country comes under attack, it naturally uses all its capacities to confront the enemy," said the Iranian commander.
The strategic 21-mile Strait of Hormuz waterway between Iran and Oman is a vital conduit for energy supplies. As much as 40 percent of the world's sea-transited crude oil passes through the narrow Persian Gulf chokepoint.
Chavez warned last month that crude prices would hit $200 a barrel if the US continued to threaten Iran.
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