Saudis vow to 'retaliate' if sanctioned over journalist

Brian Snyder  ReutersSen. Jeff Flake speaks at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Manchester N.H. Oct. 1 2018

Jeffrey Currie, the head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs Inc., said Middle East tensions impacting the oil market have now "broadened to include Saudi Arabia".

"There needs to be a credible investigation to establish the truth about what happened, and - if relevant - to identify those bearing responsibility for the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account", the three European powers said on Sunday.

Saudi officials and consulate workers denied murder allegations and claimed that Khashoggi left the consulate, but failed to provide any evidence of his exit from the facility.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi government and in particular Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was last seen entering the consulate on October 2 to get paperwork for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

The drop in the Tadawul exchange in Riyadh happened Sunday, the first day of trading.

By the close, the market had recovered some of its losses, ending down 3.5 percent.

"Something this big would definitely spook investors, and Saudi just opened up for foreign direct investment, so that was big", said Issam Kassabieh, a financial analyst at Dubai-based firm Menacorp Finance.

In an interview with Lesley Stahl of CBS' 60 Minutes that is airing today, Trump called the journalist's suspected murder "really awful and disgusting". Describing the disappearance as a "terrible thing", Trump said the USA would find out what happened to Khashoggi.

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US President Donald Trump said on Saturday there would be "severe punishment" for Saudi Arabia if it turned out that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate. The sales are a "tremendous order for our companies", and if the Saudis don't buy their weaponry from the USA, they will get it from others, he said.

Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi monarchy, was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Turkey's capital Istanbul on October 2 and may have been killed there, according to Turkish officials.

"Imposing any type of sanctions on Saudi Arabia by the West will cause the kingdom to resort to other options", he said.

"The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats or attempts to undermine it, whether through threats to impose economic sanctions or the use of political pressure", said an official source quoted by state news agency SPA.

The statement did not elaborate.

But in a strongly worded op-ed published later on Sunday, Turki Aldakhil, general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel, warned that if the U.S. imposed sanctions on Riyadh "it will stab its own economy to death", cause oil prices to reach as high as $200 a barrel, lead Riyadh to permit a Russian military base in the city of Tabuk, and drive the Middle East into the arms of Iran.

For 45 years, it's been considered out of bounds for Saudi Arabia.

Aldakhil pointed out that due the economic muscle of Saudi Arabia, which is the destination of ten per cent of the weapons manufactured in the U.S. and is one of the top 20 economies, Riyadh will have as many as 30 different options "without flinching an eye if sanctions are imposed on it". Several business leaders and media outlets have backed out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative. While at the Post, the journalist has written extensively on his home country, including criticising its war on Yemen and its arrest of women's rights activists.

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