Saudi Arabia is continuing to deny its involvement in the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist and critic Jamal Khashoggi, who was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.
Turkish investigators allege that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate in an operation planned by Saudi leadership and have opened a criminal investigation into the case.
The Saudi government has denied the claims, calling them "baseless." But the disappearance of Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and frequent Washington Post contributor, has raised international alarm and pulled the world's attention once again to the Islamic kingdom's ongoing crackdown on dissent.
The ensuing controversy and concern highlight a longer string of diplomatic and foreign policy crises that will increase the political risk associated with the country, some analysts say.
"The Saudi leadership has not accurately assessed the risks of its different ventures and policies," Ayham Kamel, practice head for the Middle East and North Africa at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, said in a client note this week.
The press and international community will likely draw links between the current crisis and previous high-profile detention cases including that of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Riyadh and the round-up of several wealthy Saudi businessmen and royals in the Ritz Carlton, both of which dominated headlines in the fall of last year. While the Saudis have insisted no foul play, emphasizing instead the monarchy's desire to fight corruption and ensure stability in the kingdom, the mounting controversies present an increasing challenge to its image as a pro-reform investment destination.
"A large part of the modernization drive in the kingdom depends on boosting confidence in the viability of the economic transition plan," Kamel wrote. "At this point, Saudi Arabia will find it incredibly challenging to contain the emerging crisis as confidence in the government's narrative will be limited. The Saudi leadership would need to present verifiable evidence to demonstrate that it is not implicated."