The folks at Religare Capital Markets have put together one of the better cheat sheets on a region that most of the big banks largely ignore: the Middle East, where day after day we get new and more troubling headlines of escalation, usually involving Iran and Israel. And since at the end of the day, in a resource-strapped world, the bottom line is always about energy, and oil, what happens in the MENA region is arguably far more important at the end of the day than who prints how much electronic paper/linen. But most important is probably the following analysis charting the probability of an attack of Iran by either Israel or the US. We were quite surprised to find that in Religare’s opinion the probability of an Israeli-sourced attack on Iran hits a high of 50% sometime in early February, with the US contributing about 20% with a peak in May and just before the presidential elections. This is how they explain it: “The probability of an attack on Iran is now higher than ever. The only solution to the current crisis, diplomacy, is off the table due to politics and the focus is now shifting to regime change. We see the probability dropping mid-year, although US elections could increase the probability of a US attack significantly (unless Ron Paul steams ahead), as will Iran’s likely decision to move their centrifuges to reinforced facilities in Qom if not handled correctly (likely mid-year). We reiterate our view that the fallout may not be as bad as expected from an Israeli strike, horrendous from a US one.” And if they are right, what happens to oil will likely be the biggest catalyst of events in 2012 – a topic PIMCO has already had some extended observations on.