Canada Opinion: On Saudi Arabia, Canada’s stance is principled — but conflicted

20:41  10 august  2018
20:41  10 august  2018 Source:   thestar.com

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador

  Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours," Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Opinion . Saudi Arabia ’ s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. It expelled the Canadian ambassador, cancelled flights to Canada , froze new trade and investment, and is reportedly selling Canadian assets.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland of Canada called for Saudi Arabia to release two rights activists from prison. But the incident further soured Canadian public opinion on the deal. Saudi Arabia does not play a major role Canada ’ s economy, making the move largely symbolic.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Video provided by HuffPost Canada

So, we now know how the royal House of Saud sounds when it chooses to roar.

It is incredibly loud, but strangely off-key.

Like a hammer pounding a flea, it wasn’t the sound of power and strength that we would have expected from the Saudis, but one of weakness and paranoia.

Ottawa was surprised by Saudi Arabia’s angry reaction to its human rights concerns

  Ottawa was surprised by Saudi Arabia’s angry reaction to its human rights concerns Federal officials were caught off guard by Saudi Arabia’s angry response to Ottawa’s social media criticism of the detention of several activists, saying that Canada’s message was little different than what had been conveyed publicly and privately in the past. The tweets sent by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department set off a diplomatic firestorm that saw Saudi Arabia’s leaders accuse Canada of “blatant” interference in the kingdom’s affairs and react with a series of retaliatory measures.

The Saudi decision to freeze trade with Canada and recall its ambassador shows the patent absurdity and backwardness of the Saudi government. As it stands , the Canadian government made a request for Saudi Arabia to release dissidents.

“This is an all-out confrontation short of a military conflict because it’s breaking a link in the diplomatic embassy.” As the feud continues to balloon, here’s everything you need to know about it. WATCH: No apology from Trudeau on Canada ’ s dispute with Saudi Arabia .

Clearly, the mood these days is not sunny and bright inside the fabled Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, effectively being led now by its aggressive, thin-skinned 32-year-old Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

But, however contradictory Canada’s foreign policy can often be, Ottawa this time is on the side of the angels in its criticism of that country’s appalling human rights record.

Read more:

Thomas Walkom: Stakes are low in Canada-Saudi Arabia squabble

Rick Salutin: If we have to mud-wrestle another country, let it be this one

To be reminded why, we need only to focus on the horrific Saudi-led airstrike of a busy civilian market in neighbouring Yemen in the early hours of Thursday morning.

This was less than a day after Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, lectured Canada that his country would not “accept dictates” or “interference” in its internal affairs from Canada.

Saudi Airlines to suspend Canadian flights

  Saudi Airlines to suspend Canadian flights TORONTO - The rift between the federal government and Saudi Arabia has prompted the country's state airline to suspend operations in Canada. Saudi Airlines issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13. Saudi Arabia operates at least two routes to the country, both of which depart from Toronto. Transport Canada did not immediately respond to request for comment on the decision. Saudi Airlines' Saudi Airlines issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13.

Canada has engaged in a diplomatic spat over human rights issues with Saudi Arabia . Speaking to Sputnik, ex- Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler shared his views on the ongoing row between Ottawa and Riyadh.

Opinion . Editorial. Saudi Arabia accused Canada of interfering in its internal affairs after the Canadian foreign ministry tweeted that the Kingdom should release detained “civil society activists.”

Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud sitting in a box: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a summit in April. His response to Canada’s human rights criticism suggests he wants the world — and Saudi activists — to know he will not be trifled with.© bandar al-jaloud Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at a summit in April. His response to Canada’s human rights criticism suggests he wants the world — and Saudi activists — to know he will not be trifled with.

His rebuke was in angry response to Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department urging Saudi authorities in a tweet “to immediately release” women’s rights activists and other human rights advocates recently arrested.

But just a few hours after the Saudi minister issued his warning, his country’s military showed the world what it really means to interfere in another nation’s affairs.

On Thursday, more than 40 civilians — most of them children under 10 — were killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike in rebel-held northern Yemen. The Saudis defended the attack as a “legitimate military action” in response to rebel provocation.

Canada not clear yet on Saudi retaliation

  Canada not clear yet on Saudi retaliation OTTAWA - A federal official says Canada remains unclear about the measures Saudi Arabia is taking in response to Canadian criticism of its human rights policies. The official says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke with her Saudi counterpart Tuesday in part to get clarity about the measures, including one report that said Saudi banks and pension funds had been ordered to sell off their Canadian assets. Saudi Arabia has not confirmed that report, and the official — who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter — says a full understanding of their plans remains elusive.

Saudi Arabia ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the Kingdom and froze all new trade and investment with the country after accusing Canada of interfering in its internal affairs. Saudi Cabinet reaffirms its 'absolute rejection' of the Canadian government’ s stance .

Topics: Canada Saudi Aramco Khalid Al-Falih Saudi - Canada dispute. Following the formation of the Anti-Terror Quartet (ATQ) — comprising Saudi Arabia , Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain — Eritrea sided with the group in support of its principled stand .

In the world’s most brutal and forgotten war — with well more than 10,000 dead — the Saudi coalition is backing Yemen’s government against the rebel Houthi movement. Saudi’s military has been accused of war crimes against Yemeni civilians by human rights advocates.

But Saudi Arabia’s penchant for meddling in the affairs of others extends well beyond Yemen. It recently kidnapped Lebanon’s prime minister in an effort to control its government. And it has conspired with neighbouring Gulf countries to try to isolate Qatar for challenging Saudi primacy in the region.

In fact, it was reported last week by the investigative news website The Intercept that the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates planned to launch a military invasion of Qatar last year before it was stopped by former U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson.

So, somewhat cynically, Saudi Arabia can truly claim real-life expertise in how to “interfere” in other countries’ affairs.

But the angry dispute this week between Canada and Saudi Arabia didn’t relate to the Saudis’ foreign adventures. It concerned what is actually happening to human rights — particularly women’s rights — within the kingdom itself.

Canada’s dispute with Saudi Arabia has agriculture industry on edge

  Canada’s dispute with Saudi Arabia has agriculture industry on edge Market access is not a new problem for the grain industry and this latest tiff with Saudi Arabia adds to the struggle."The consequences are quite negative extensively, everywhere," says business manager John Van Hierden.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for a call from Ottawa to free arrested Saudi civil society activists. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada .

Saudi Arabia on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for a call from Ottawa to free arrested Saudi civil society activists. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada .

The catalyst came about 10 days ago when Amnesty International learned that the Saudi government had arrested at least 15 prominent women activists, including internationally recognized human rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

Badawi, a recipient of the U.S. State Department’s International Women of Courage Award, was a leader in the campaign to end the Saudi ban on women driving. It was widely believed that Crown Prince bin Salman resented the credit being given to these women activists for this landmark reform.

Samar Badawi is also the sister of Raif Badawi, a blogger imprisoned since 2012 and publicly flogged for his actions. Raif Badawi’s wife and children fled to Canada in 2015 and are now Canadian citizens.

A week ago, Freeland tweeted that “Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”

In retaliation, the Saudis went wild. They kicked out Canada’s ambassador, suspended new trade, started selling off its Canadian assets and ended funding for about 15,00 Saudi students in Canada.

The reaction seemed excessive, to say the least. In diplomatic terms, Canada’s original message to the Saudis was not extreme, and the Canada-Saudi trade relationship is quite limited.

Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: Freeland

  Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: Freeland Canada waiting for details from Saudi Arabia: FreelandVANCOUVER - Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Ottawa will have to wait to hear more details from Saudi Arabia before it responds to the country's decision to freeze new trade deals and expel Canada's ambassador.

“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 has taken a more aggressive stance toward arch-rival Iran, begun a three-year-old war in Yemen and led a boycott of fellow Gulf Arab state Qatar.

It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada . Trudeau - who referred to the matter as “a diplomatic difference of opinion ” - told On Friday, Canada expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia , including prominent women’ s rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

But the consensus among Middle East analysts is that it wasn’t Canada that Crown Prince bin Salman had in his crosshairs. Instead, this was bin Salman’s warning to the world — and to Saudi human rights activists — that his Saudi Arabia is not to be trifled with.

As for Canada, it has figuratively won this month’s gold star within the international human rights community, and beyond.

The New York Times, supporting Canada, wrote that “Saudi rulers did the kind of thing that backward, insecure despots often do — they lashed out and penalized their critics.” In Britain, The Guardian newspaper praised “Ottawa’s justified criticism” and wrote it was “time to back Canada.” And the Financial Timeseditorialized that “the West should stand by Ottawa rebuffing a thin-skinned crown prince.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau upped the ante on Wednesday when he said that Canada will not apologize for standing up “for Canadian values and human rights.”

We shall see.

Let us not forget that it was this Liberal government that approved the $15-billion deal to sell military vehicles to Saudi Arabia originally worked out by the previous Harper government. There is reason to believe that some of these vehicles have been used by the Saudis to crush the very internal dissent that Canada embraces.

If the Middle East has taught us anything, it is that talk is cheap.

Tony Burman, formerly head of CBC News and Al Jazeera English, is a freelance contributor for the Star. He is based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyBurman

Canadian dollar gets whacked after Saudi Arabia reportedly starts dumping the country's assets 'no matter the cost' .
The Canadian dollar slid Wednesday after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabia had begun selling off its holdings of the country's bonds, stocks, and cash.According to the FT's Simeon Kerr, Saudi Arabia ordered the divestments "no matter the cost" after Canada criticised its arrest of Samar Badawi, a women's rights activist. Saudi central bank and state pension funds told their overseas asset managers to unload Canadian bonds, stocks, and cash holdings "no matter the cost," the report said. The selling began on Tuesday, it said.

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