Global Stocks Plunge Again as Erdogan Pins Khashoggi Death on Saudi Arabia
Equity markets from Asia to North America took a beating on Tuesday after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Saudi authorities of planning a “premeditated murder” of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The journalist, who was considered a dissident by Riyadh, was last seen entering a Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey three weeks ago.
Stocks Resume Selloff
Global markets were down sharply on Tuesday, with Asian stocks giving back some of yesterday’s gains. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 2.3% while the broader CSI 300 Index closed down 2.7%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 index fell 2.7%.
Europe’s major bourses were down between 0.8% and 2.3%. The pan-European Stoxx 600 was down 1.4% at last check.
U.S. stock futures sold off during pre-market hours, with the Dow Jones mini falling 437 points as of 9:17 a.m ET. S&P 500 futures declined 44.25 points and the Nasdaq 100 plunged 135.50 points.
The CBOE VIX, also known as the “fear index,” was up more than 21% as of 9:14 a.m. ET.
Erdogan Blames Saudis for “Savage” Khashoggi Murder
The Turkish president on Tuesday said he has proof that Saudi Arabia carried out a premeditated murder of Jamal Khashoggi at one of its royal consulates in Istanbul. According to Erdogan, a team of 15 Saudi officials arrived in stages in Istanbul to carry out the attack. The Saudis reportedly conducted reconnaissance outside the city where Khashoggi’s remains are believed to have been buried.
“It is clear that this savage murder did not happen at the drop of a dime but was a planned affair,” Erdogan said in a firm challenge to the official Saudi account, which claims that Khashoggi was killed accidentally in a brawl.
“Why was the 15-man Saudi team in Istanbul on the day of the murder?” he asked, as quoted by The New York Times. “On whose orders? We are seeking answers. Why was the consulate not opened to investigators immediately? When the murder was so clear, why were there so many different statements given by Saudis? Why has the body of someone, the killing of whom has been officially admitted, not been found? Who is the local collaborator who disposed of Khashoggi’s body? Saudi must answer all these questions.”
The Saudis have faced international backlash for their alleged role in Khashoggi’s disappearance, with several leading U.S. executives backing out of a high-profile investment conference in Riyadh. U.S. President Donald Trump has also stated he is “not satisfied” with Saudi Arabia’s official response, a sign that the matter will remain on the front burner.
Like past presidents, Trump must tread carefully in how he approaches Saudi Arabia given the country’s over-sized influence on the U.S. economy. From oil to arms sales, the Saudis have a direct impact on the U.S. labor market as well as its energy needs.
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