Saudi Arabia Rules Out Mediation in Canada Row

Frederick Owens
August 13, 2018

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced they are freezing all trade agreements with Canada after a human-rights disagreement between the two countries.

Canada sparked fury in Riyadh last week when it called for the "immediate release" of rights campaigners, including award-winning women's rights activist Samar Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi.

Canada is quietly nudging allies including Germany and Sweden for help with resolving its row with Saudi Arabia, a government source confirmed Thursday.

"We are witnessing a democratic constitutional state such as Canada being shown up and disciplined by Saudi Arabia, a state that tortures [citizens and] shows contempt for human rights", spokesman Martin Lessenthin said. "We are not considering any responses".

Heather Nauert, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday the urging Canada and Saudi Arabia to use diplomacy to resolve their dispute. On the possible sale of assets by major Saudi investors, Morneau said he couldn't confirm that any such thing is underway.

"We have not seen significant changes in our markets, so whatever may or may not be happening is clearly not a big impact on our markets", he said.

"We are concerned about the potential implications on the affected Residents and are hopeful that this situation will be resolved further to the discussions that are ongoing", said Harry Gray, executive director of Resident Doctors of BC, in a written statement to The Ubyssey.

He further said, "Pakistan is following with vast concern the crisis in the relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada and places on record its solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia". But uncertainty over the state of affairs between the two countries continued to hang over Ottawa.

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Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia August 8, 2018. "It's still a little bit unclear".

The dispute has threatened to undermine Riyadh's foreign investment drive, a campaign already unsettled by a series of assertive political and diplomatic initiatives by the top oil exporter.

And in November, Germany's Foreign Minister made a veiled criticism of Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen and endured blowback, including blacklisting of some German companies.

With the potential economic fallout from the Saudi actions still coming into focus, Riyadh's decision to cancel thousands of scholarships is expected to hurt - at least a little.

Praised in the West as an ambitious young reformer, Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman has been slowly peeling back restrictive laws since he became crown prince past year.

Global students spend more than $15 billion in Canada each year, and support almost 170,000 jobs.

Canada is one of the leading exporters of barley to Saudi Arabia.

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