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Saudis reject threats, vow response – Saudi stock market loses $33bn in value

A Saudi Arabian diplomatic vehicle waits behind a police fence at the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Oct 14. Turkey on Oct 13 accused Saudi Arabia of failing to cooperate with a probe into the disappearance of a journalist inside its Istanbul consulate, as US President Donald Trump threatened ‘severe punishment’ if it turns out he was killed. (AFP)

RIYADH, Oct 14, (Agencies): Saudi Arabia expressed on Sunday its rejection to any threats and attempts to undermine the Kingdom vowing to respond to any actions taken against it. “The Kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and bids to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressure, or repeating false accusations that will not jeopardize the Kingdom,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said in a statement.

“The Kingdom also affirms that if it receives any action, it will retaliate with greater action … the Kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy ..,” SPA quoted a top Saudi official as saying.

“The Kingdom has played an important role in achieving security, stability and prosperity of the region, combating extremism and terrorism, enhancing economic cooperation and consolidating peace and stability in the region and the world,” the official added. The official, whose identity was not disclosed by the agency, has explained that Saudi Arabia is still working “with brotherly and friendly countries to promote these goals.”

“The Kingdom appreciates the brothers’ stand in the face of the campaign of false allegations; it appreciates the voices of the wise people around the world, who have overcome wisdom, deliberation and the search for truth instead of rushing to exploit rumors and accusations to achieve goals and agendas unrelated to the search for truth,” the statement quoted the unnamed official as saying. The Kingdom of Bahrain has, meanwhile, affirmed its “full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against all those who attempt to undermine it or seek to harm it.

“The Kingdom of Bahrain also commends the high position of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as it is considered the basis for security and stability of the Arab and Islamic worlds, and also acts as a solid foundation for the stability of the region, with their leading roles and constructive initiatives for security, stability and prosperity at the regional and international levels,” the Bahraini Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The statement added, “The Kingdom of Bahrain reiterates its firm stance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in all its policies and efforts to confront the various threats and issues facing the international community, extremism and terrorism in particular. “The Kingdom also reaffirms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote international cooperation at various political, economic and security levels with its enormous potential in promoting peace and stability throughout the world.”

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has condemned what it described as a “media campaign” targeting Saudi Arabia, against the backdrop of the disappearance of a Saudi journalist in Turkey. “What is being circulated in some Arab and international media is false accusations against Saudi Arabia,” staterun Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted GCC Secretary General Dr Abdullatif Al-Zayani as saying.

He zeroed in on the media outlets for steering away from professionalism and objectivity, accusing them of spreading lies and falsehoods. The GCC chief said that the Kingdom was quick to act over the situation, ordering a joint probe with Turkish authorities into the mysterious disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) lauded on Sunday the Turkish-Saudi move of forming a joint team to unravel circumstances of Khashoggi’s disappearance in Istanbul. OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef Al-Othaimeen said in a statement that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are capable of presenting a model for bilateral cooperation in hardest circumstances.

The organization called for waiting for results of the Saudi- Turkish investigation, urging the media to “seek accuracy and objectivity regarding the case.” US President Donald Trump is pessimistic about the fate of missing Khashoggi, saying Saturday that it is “not looking too good” and he may have been killed. Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor and US permanent resident whose writings have been critical of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been missing since entering the country’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2. “I think we would’ve known by now. That was our first hope, our first hope was that he was not killed, but maybe that’s not looking too good … from what we’re hearing,” Trump told journalists at the White House.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate and lurid claims have been leaked to media that he was tortured and even dismembered, but Saudi Arabia insists he left the building safely. The outcry surrounding his disappearance threatens to not just harm brittle Turkey-Saudi relations but also alarm the Kingdom’s supporters in the West and tarnish the reform drive spearheaded by the crown prince. Britain, France and Germany, meanwhile, told Saudi Arabia they were treating the case with “the utmost seriousness”.

“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 Khashoggi, and ensure that they are held to account,” the foreign ministers from the three countries said in a joint statement. “We encourage joint Saudi-Turkish efforts in that regard, and expect the Saudi Government to provide a complete and detailed response. We have conveyed this message directly to the Saudi authorities.”

The statement, by British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, France’s Jean- Yves Le Drian and Germany’s Heiko Maas, made no mention of potential actions the countries might take. The Saudi stock market lost $33 billion of its value on Sunday amid investor worries about deteriorating international relations, one of the first signs of the economic pain that Riyadh could suffer over the affair. In a column published just after the SPA statement, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya channel’s General Manager Turki Aldakhil warned that imposing sanctions on the world’s largest oil exporter could spark global economic disaster. “It would lead to Saudi Arabia’s failure to commit to producing 7.5 million barrels. If the price of oil reaching $80 angered President Trump, no one should rule out the price jumping to $100, or $200, or even double that figure,” he wrote.

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