Monday, 20 August, 2018

Saudi Arabia's row with Canada shows no signs of abating

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada Regina 980 CJME Canadian Press
Melinda Barton | 10 August, 2018, 06:03

Finance Minister Bill Morneau doubled down Tuesday on Ottawa's message that the federal government will continue to stand up for Canadian values even as it finds itself at the centre of an ongoing diplomatic tumult with Saudi Arabia.

The flights to Toronto Pearson International Airport will be suspended beginning August 13, according to the announcement the carrier published on its Twitter.

Also on Tuesday, the Middle Eastern country's state airline announced it was suspending operations in Canada.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa will wait to hear more details from Saudi Arabia before responding to the country's decision to freeze new trade deals and expel Canada's ambassador, she defended Canada's position, insisting Ottawa will always stand up for human rights.

His case long has been raised by worldwide human rights groups and Western diplomats, including Canadians, who have called on Saudi Arabia to free him.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the wording of the tweet, calling it an attempt by Canada to interfere with the country's internal affairs.

Coleman said it was unclear Tuesday how many students were sponsored by the Saudi Arabia government.

McMaster University says it has about 150 Saudi students in the faculty of Health Sciences and another 40 in other programs.

The global feud began with the Canadian government's criticism of Saudi Arabia's arrests of women's rights activists.

Not surprisingly, Bahrain and the UAE have joined Saudi Arabia's side of the argument.

Among the arrested is Samar Badawi, an award-winning women's-rights activist who sought to abolish the country's male guardianship laws.

"Both Canada and the U.S. lost the Middle East market a long time ago. because they are at a freight disadvantage (with higher ocean shipping costs) to the European Union and Black Sea export markets", the consultant said.

"The only people buying oil from Saudi Arabia would be Irving".

Guido Steinberg, a Middle East expert at the German Institute for global and Security Affairs, believes there are two reasons why Saudi Arabia has reacted so harshly to the statements from the Canadian Foreign Ministry.

Saudi Arabia notably was angry with Canada for demanding that Riyadh "immediately release" some of the detained activists.

The Saudi foreign ministry ordered Canada's ambassador, Dennis Horak, to leave the country and called the use of "immediately release" in Canada's tweet "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

The Saudi Kingdom was less than thrilled about Canada's "interference", saying it had no business to meddle in its local affairs. Samar is a vocal campaigner for her brother Raif Badawi, a blogger who was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Dahl said said he was not aware of any Canadian shipments now en route to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's sudden sharp response to criticism shows the limits of reforms by Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who runs its day-to-day government.