Saudi Arabia has issued a “veiled threat” to critics that could have major implications for global security and the price of petrol.
This is the latest development in the mysterious case of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi national, US resident and Washington Post columnist who disappeared in Istanbul last week.
Turkish authorities believe Khashoggi to have been murdered and claim they have audio evidence suggesting he died in the Saudi consulate, with many pointing the finger at foul play by the Saudi regime.
The incident has sparked a global war of words that could have widespread ramifications given Saudi Arabia’s significant role as the world’s largest oil producer and a key economic backer of the United States.
The official Saudi Press Agency has issued a statement which analysts have warned contains an implicit threaten to ‘weaponise’ the oil market.
“The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures, or repeating false accusations,” the statement said, according to Reuters.
“The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”
The statement followed tough talk from influential US policymakers such as Senator Marco Rubio, who called for tough sanctions against the kingdom despite its role as a crucial American ally in the Middle East.
US President Donald Trump has since sought to downplay the dispute, claiming that “rogue killers” may have been responsible for the probable murder of Khashoggi and dispatching Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, major brands like Ford, Uber and JP Morgan Chase have dropped out of a big Saudi investor conference hosted by controversial crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (known as MBS).
Speaking to Trading Day, analyst Greg McKenna described the scenario as the “scariest news story in the world right now”.