Date :Thursday, August 16th, 2018 | Time : 12:00 |ID: 68863 | Print

The big diplomatic war between Canada and Saudi Arabia

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SHAFAQNA – What began with a statement of concern over human rights has ballooned into the biggest diplomatic feud in years between Canada and Saudi Arabia.

The clash between the two countries arose following Saudi Arabia’s move to detain activist Samar Badawi. Saudi Arabia plans to freeze future trade relations between the two countries. UK and US have urged Canada and Saudi Arabia to resolve their dispute with restraint.

Saudi Arabia is in a diplomatic standoff with Canada. It all happened after Canadian officials criticized the kingdom’s human rights record, npr reported.

According to CNN, In a tweet, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said it was “gravely concerned” by the arrest of Saudi activist Samar Badawi and other women’s rights campaigners, and called for their release.

In response, Saudi Arabia’s state media tweeted a graphic appearing to show an Air Canada airliner heading toward the Toronto skyline in a way that recalled the September 11, 2001, terrorist hijackings of airliners that struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

The graphic warned of “Sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong!” and included the text: “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.'”

Expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh

The Saudi government has responded with a steady string of retaliatory measures, expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh and recalling the Saudi envoy to Ottawa, suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto, and ending thousands of Saudi scholarship programs in Canada.

The kingdom also said it plans to freeze future trade relations between the two countries.

“Saudi would not tolerate any foreign meddling in its internal affairs”

Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would not tolerate any foreign meddling in its internal affairs, and suggested his country would not be backing down anytime soon.

Saudi Arabia’s response has struck some observers as a disproportionate overreaction to a relatively routine criticism of the country’s human rights record. US Senator Bernie Sanders described it as “outrageous”.

Both countries double down in reaction

Tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia show few signs of easing as both countries double down in reaction to what one former Canadian ambassador called a “brash” move by the Middle Eastern kingdom to freeze business ties, scholarships to students, and airline flights over a tweet, Global News reported.

Since Mohammed bin Salman has ascended to power, there’s been an intensified repression of dissent,” said Human Rights Watch Saudi Arabia researcher Hiba Zayadin.

And while MBS has lifted the ban on women driving and opened the first new movie theater in the country in 35 years, Saudi authorities have been cracking down hard on (predominantly women) activists, arresting a number of campaigners this year.

Experts fear the spat could set a new tone for discussions about human rights

Experts fear the spat could set a new tone for discussions about human rights among the international community. They warn that the Trump administration’s downplaying of human rights in foreign policymaking will further enable authoritarian rulers to carry out abuses.

US President Donald Trump has been reluctant to publicly criticize Saudi Arabia for its rights record, and the State Department was criticized for failing to single out the kingdom in the introduction to its 2017 human rights report.

Canada has asked its allies to help de-escalate tensions

Canada has asked its allies to help de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia, news agencies reported an informed government source saying .

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Canada is working quietly through backchannels to get help from its allies, including Germany and Sweden, to resolve the crisis with the oil rich Kingdom, Middle East Monitor told.

Ottowa has also asked the UAE and UK for help.

Both the UK and US have urged Canada and Saudi Arabia to resolve their dispute with restraint.

Samar Badawi, whose activist brother Raif has been behind bars since 2012 and is sentenced to receive 1,000 lashes, was arrested last week, rights groups said.

Raif Badawi’s wife and children were granted asylum in Canada in 2015.

Canada would not apologize to Saudi Arabia

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would not apologize to Saudi Arabia, stressing his country speak “clearly and firmly about human rights issues in the country and abroad” whenever needed.

Canada could end up in an oil crisis

Tensions between the two nations are escalating into a diplomatic war.

According to Express Canada could end up in an oil crisis as it depends on trade with Saudi Arabia – one of its largest sources.

Ottawa imported a total of £12.5 fbillion (CAD$20.9bn) of oil from the Arab state between 2007 and 2017, making Saudi their second biggest oil importer after the US, according to Statistics Canada figures.

Canada brought in around £1.1 billion (CAD$1.8bn) of Saudi oil between January and June this year to the Irving-oil refinery – an oil import facility in Saint John, New Brunswick in Canada – making that a total of almost £6 million (CAD$10m) worth of oil per day.

Saudi Arabia’s oil shipments to Canada will remain steady, despite growing tensions between the two countries and the kingdom’s decision to block Canadian imports as well as freeze future financial investments, the Saudi energy minister has promised, Newsweek reported.

According to CBC News, Riyadh has a “firm and long-standing policy” that petroleum supplies are not impacted by political considerations, the kingdom’s energy minister Khalid al-Falih said in an official statement.

“The current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco’s relations with its customers in Canada,” he promised.

However, Judith Dwarkin, chief economist with RS Energy Group in Alberta, pointed out that Saudi oil only comprises about 10 percent of Canada’s total crude imports, representing 75,000 to 80,000 barrels per day, Oil Price reported. Calling this a “drop in the bucket,” she said it could easily be replaced.

Writing for the Financial Post, Ali al-Ahmed, the director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs in Washington, argued that Canada should use this opportunity to challenge Saudi Arabia’s oil policies.

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