On Saturday, the US President pledged to impose “severe punishment” on Saudi Arabia if it turns out that Riyadh is behind the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi who has been missing since October 2.
Shortly after trading kicked off on Sunday, Saudi stocks plunged by at least seven percent, in what became the biggest drop since 2014 which comes amid an ever-increasing pressure on Riyadh over the situation around missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
“It’s the political environment. The market is reacting negatively to sentiment around the Khashoggi case and the political noise around it,” Salah Shamma, head of investment for the region at Franklin Templeton Emerging Markets Equity, was cited by Reuters as saying.
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His remarks came a day after US President Donald Trump told CBS that Washington is poised “to get to the bottom” of Khashoggi’s disappearance.
He warned that that if it turns out that Saudi authorities are behind all this, the US would inflict “severe punishment” on them. However, he emphasized that Riyadh has been “vehemently denying” the allegations of its involvement in the Khashoggi case.
At the same time, the US President made it clear that he does not want to hurt US jobs by stopping military sales to Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi case.
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Trump’s remarks came after Saudi Interior Minister Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Nayef rejected allegations over the death of Khashoggi as “lies,” stressing that the accusations of a murder plot were targeting the Saudi government.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, described the Saudi government’s comments as unconvincing and urged Riyadh to prove that they have nothing to do with the incident.
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The statement was made amid Turkish media speculation that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman allegedly sought to bring Khashoggi to Saudi Arabia and detain him there. Some went even further by claiming that the journalist had ostensibly been killed in the Saudi embassy.
Earlier, several US companies and business leaders pulled out of an upcoming The Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia as questions mount over the disappearance of the Saudi journalist. In addition, Bloomberg, the New York Times, the Financial Times, CNN and CNBC have all cut their ties with the conference.
Khashoggi, who moved to the US in 2017 and worked as a columnist for The Washington Post, disappeared in Turkey on October 2 when he reportedly entered the building of Saudi Arabia’s Consulate in the city of Istanbul.