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Forecast podcast: Tensions remain high after suspected Israeli retaliatory strike on Iran

Editors Jimmy Lovaas and Agnese Boffano discuss the recent suspected Israeli strike in Iran, plus more on voting in India, new border controls in the UK, the US deploying a landing jetty for aid to Gaza and a controversial oil pipeline beginning operations in Canada.

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This episode was produced with work from Factal editors Agnese Boffano, Halima Mansoor, Jaime Calle Moreno, Jeff Landset and Owen Bonertz. Produced and edited by Jimmy Lovaas. Music courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

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Factal Forecast podcast transcript

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.


Welcome to the Factal Forecast, a look at the week’s biggest stories and what they mean from the editors at Factal. I’m Jimmy Lovaas.

Today is April 25.

In this week’s forecast we’ve got a suspected Israeli strike in Iran, voting in India, new border controls in the UK, the US deploying a landing jetty for aid to Gaza and a controversial oil pipeline beginning operations in Canada. 

You can also read about these stories and more in our weekly newsletter, which you can find a link to in the show notes.

Israeli strikes on Iran

Information compiled by Agnese Boffano

JIMMY: Up first, we’ll take a look at a suspected Israeli strike in Iran. For more on that I’ve got fellow Factal editor Agnese Boffano.

JIMMY: Hello, Agnese.

AGNESE: Hey, Jimmy. 

JIMMY: Well, Agnese, news broke at the end of last week of what’s believed to be an Israeli strike inside Iran. Can you give us a recap on how we got here and what’s happened?  

AGNESE: Yeah, I think maybe it’s best if I start a few weeks ago just to give us the context of what led up to the latest incidents. As you know, Iran and Israel have remained hostile for decades now and tensions definitely heightened following the Hamas-led attack on October 7. But the biggest escalation definitely happened on April 1 when a suspected Israeli attack targeted the building adjacent to the Iranian consulate in Damascus in Syria, which killed more than a dozen people including a senior IRGC Quds Force Commander. And, you know, during the weeks following that, Iran continued to threaten to retaliate until it finally happened on April 13 when Iran fired more than 300 projectiles, including cruise and ballistic missiles, toward Israel, and that also prompted the closure of airspaces of neighboring countries. And that particular incident, although the Israeli military said that it had intercepted about 99% of those projectiles, it was a significant escalation because it was the first time that Iran targeted directly Israel on its soil. And so this is a long way to bring me to the latest incident, as you said, at the end of last week, when again sources believe that Israel attacked Iran on – this was on April 18 overnight – explosions were reported over Iran’s Isfahan province. And these were later confirmed to be due to air defenses intercepting three drones. And again, no one has really claimed responsibility for this incident, and Israel rarely comments on its overseas military operations, but again this was significant in that even though no military facilities were damaged it was definitely a symbolic attack by Israel due to the importance of Isfahan province as a place with nuclear and military sites.

JIMMY: And what’s the latest? Have there been any new developments?

AGNESE: We’ve definitely seen an uptick of security incidents in the region since this latest direct attack, a lot of Iran-aligned bases were targeted in a series of explosions in both Syria and Iraq. And there haven’t really been a lot of verified information coming out about these incidents, for example over the weekend we were covering a big explosion that was reported at a base in Iraq’s Babil province that housed Popular Mobilization Forces, which are part of the Iraqi army but they’re aligned with Iran. And again, although this was initially reported as an Israeli attack it was later denied and the circumstances around that remain unclear. But, all this to say, it’s incidents like these that show how the region remains extremely volatile following the direct escalation between Israel and Iran, and there’s a lot of security heightened around, as well, the US bases in the region as well because people are wondering what the next target is likely to be.

JIMMY: Well what sort of reactions to this have you seen to this, you know, both domestically, internationally, regionally?  

AGNESE: Ah, I think the international reaction has definitely been one of restraint, or rather asking all parties involved to restrain from a further regional escalation. The domestic reaction in both Israel and Iran has been quite interesting, actually. Israel has definitely received a lot of praise for its defense system for its accurate interception of the missiles fired by Iran, especially it comes in a moment where the military institution and the Netanyahu coalition in Israel has been under heavy criticism over its failure of Oct. 7 and the ongoing hostage situation in the Gaza Strip as well. So that, you know, that combined with the looming threat of Iran, has definitely played to Bibi’s advantage in a way. And likewise in Iran, you know the initial strike toward Israel really was just for domestic consumption. I mean, it was a significant escalation, but definitely used by the Iranian regime for domestic consumption. As well, Iran, you know, has been facing significant opposition over its economic situation and has also faced a lot of pressure to be more directly involved in the plight for the Palestinians, so again, that incident also played in Iran’s favor. With regards to the latest attack in Isfahan, this was very much downplayed by Iranian state media, and in fact the Ayatollah addressed the military a few days after, on Sunday, and he just failed to mention the incident at all.

JIMMY: Now, Agnese, I know it’s difficult to guess just how all of this is going to play out, but what do you think folks should be watching for next?

AGNESE: There’s definitely a lot of anxiety still lingering, but at this point it’s still unclear whether this latest Israeli attack on Iran was a one-off or a prelude to a strategy of, kind of, more targeted strikes on groups and bases aligned with Tehran in the region. I think a lot of analysts would agree with me though in saying that at least for now, this chapter of direct intervention between Israel and Iran seems to have somewhat closed, but what comes next I think is the need for both parties to reevaluate and reassess what the new red lines in this game are in terms of direct confrontations, so it’s safe to say that, you know, security risk does remain extremely high exactly because there is that space for ambiguity that leads for miscalculation. And just one thing I’d like to add before we end if I may Jimmy, I think it seems as though Israel really is hoping to go ahead with its invasion of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, despite the city housing thousands of Palestinian refugees and despite major backlash that Israel is receiving from most countries at this point, including the US. So, it’ll be interesting therefore to see if this recent escalation with Iran will also have an impact on the Israeli campaign and ongoing war in Gaza.

JIMMY: Well, Agnese, we’ll pause there for today, but as as always, I thank you so much for getting us all caught up on what we need to know. Always appreciate it. 

AGNESE: Thanks for having me Jimmy.

Second phase of voting begins in India

Information compiled by Halima Mansoor

JIMMY: The second phase of India’s general elections begin tomorrow.

Some 89 seats across 12 Indian states and the disputed Jammu and Kashmir territory will be up for grabs.

The first phase of voting began last Friday. 

Unfortunately, incidents of violence and electoral interference were reported in Manipur, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh

In fact, at least 11 Manipur polling stations went to a re-vote on April 22 because of reports of shooting and damage to electoral voting machines. 

Overall, voter turnout fell by 4.4 percent in phase one over the 2019 election.

And while some of the drop was attributed to rising temperatures and heatwaves, there are also fears that both the opposition and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters stayed home. That, out of complacency borne from expectations of another win by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Now, turnout will remain in focus in phase two, especially in Kerala where Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent of India’s opposition Congress Party, is running for a second term

The race is expected to be tough

Gandhi is facing a strong local BJP contender as well as a senior candidate from the Communist Party of India. 

Also worth watching are the polls in Jammu and Kashmir, the first since New Delhi revoked the disputed region’s partial autonomy in 2019. 

The ruling BJP is operating from an obvious position of strength in Kashmir while facing a fractured opposition

Voting for the lower house of India’s Parliament will continue across seven phases until results on June 4.

New post-Brexit border controls start

Information compiled by Jaime Calle Moreno

JIMMY: On Tuesday, the U.K. government is set to begin its second phase of stronger post-Brexit border controls, tariffs and inspections from the EU.

Defra, the U.K. food and environment department, has assured businesses and consumers that inspections along EU border points will begin as scheduled. That, amid several reports saying authorities were going to scale back and delay the new border controls due to disruption concerns. 

Checks will incorporate the “consumer user charge” for U.K. businesses importing goods that enter either through Dover’s port or the Eurotunnel, as well as more stringent checks for “medium-risk” animal and plant products.

Now, while the government said there will be a limited amount of disruption, there’s been no real indication from authorities on how frequent or stringent the border control checks will actually be. 

The new rules are said to be essential for U.K. exporters to remain competitive.

Still, the lengthy border checks and the charges, which could go up to £145 ($179) for businesses, put the most strain on small businesses reliant on EU imports. 

Finally, just how widespread the disruption will be is yet to be seen, but it likely will affect U.K. inflation in the short-term.

Deployment of U.S. Gaza aid landing jetty

Information compiled by Jeff Landset

JIMMY: The United States could provide much-needed aid for Gaza as soon as Wednesday.

That, thanks to the construction of a pier in the Mediterranean Sea connecting the shore to a large floating platform where ships will unload aid.

U.S. President Joe Biden pledged aid to the Palestinian people days after the Hamas-led attack on Israel in October. 

As the conflict escalated, food shortages for the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza became critical, exceeding famine levels

Distributing food in Gaza has often turned deadly, leading to the United States airdropping aid into the area. 

Things worsened earlier this month when an Israeli strike killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, leading several humanitarian aid organizations to pause operations.

Now, Biden made sure to say no U.S. boots would be on the ground, and the plan to build an 1,800-foot long pier is becoming a reality. 

When finished, it will be able to deliver two million meals a day for Gaza residents. 

Still, the aid distribution zone will still be secured by the Israeli military, and there is concern that once things are up and running, Israel will neglect the more efficient land corridors.

Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion begins operations

Information compiled by Owen Bonertz

JIMMY: Western Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will begin transporting oil on Wednesday.

The original Trans Mountain Pipeline opened in 1952 and connected the oil refineries of Edmonton, Alberta, with the west coast port of Burnaby, British Columbia. 

Houston-based Kinder Morgan began the planning and construction of a parallel expansion pipeline in 2013 at an estimated cost of $6.8 billion.

The Canadian government then took over the project in 2018 in a move that proved highly controversial for the environmentalist image of the Liberal Party. 

The project also faced resistance from encampments set up by First Nations groups in the interior of British Colunbia. It also faced battles from court challenges and cost inflation.

Now, Alberta oil has always been more expensive to produce than OPEC exports, largely because of extremely high transport costs. 

The Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion will nearly triple the shipping capacity, taking it from 300,000 barrels a day to 890,000. 

And while Canada’s finance minister has estimated this could boost the national GDP by 0.25 percent, it has not been without its costs for the federal government. 

In fact, the pipeline’s final cost will reach over $34 billion, meaning high transit fees for Canadian oil refiners like Suncor and Husky. 

The cost also means an almost-guaranteed loss on the federal government’s investment when they move to sell the pipeline.

JIMMY: As always, thank you for listening to the Factal Forecast. We publish our forward-looking podcast and newsletter each Thursday to help you get a jump-start on the week ahead. Please subscribe and review wherever you find your podcasts. We’d love it if you’d consider telling a friend about us.  

Today’s episode was produced with work from Factal editors Halima Mansoor, Jaime Calle Moreno, Jeff Landset and Owen Bonertz. Our interview featured editor Agnese Boffano and our podcast is produced and edited by me – Jimmy Lovaas. Our music comes courtesy of Andrew Gospe.

Until next time, if you have any feedback, suggestions or events we’ve missed, drop us a note by emailing

This transcript may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability not guaranteed. 

Copyright © 2024 Factal. All rights reserved.

Music: ‘Factal Theme’ courtesy of Andrew Gospe

Top photo: Factal incident map of the past ten days of verified and geolocated events in the Israel-Iran conflict.

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