Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada

Frederick Owens
August 7, 2018

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world", a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, stressing that Canada was "seeking greater clarity" from the Saudi government.

But the damage could be more significant if a $15 billion deal agreed in 2014 for Canada to sell Riyadh light armoured vehicles is scrapped, as thousands of jobs in Canada could be lost, Juneau said. "We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists".

Amnesty International has said Badawi, the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, was recently detained along with Nassima al-Sada, another prominent female activist. Freeland declined to comment on Horak's exact location and would only say he was doing fine.

Judith Dwarkin, chief economist with RS Energy Group in Calgary, says eastern Canadian refineries import about 75,000 to 80,000 barrels per day of Saudi Arabian crude.

Following this move, a new report from Saudi-owned media outlet Al Arabiya revealed that "training, scholarships and fellowships" for Saudi students in Canada are now being shelved.

In a tweet Monday, Bessma Momani, an expert on Middle East issues and a political science professor at the University of Waterloo said the affected Saudi students are now left "scrambling with what to do with their lives".

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In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Raif Badawi to Saudi King Salman.

There could be a sentiment among allies that, "Finally the Trudeau government is getting poked back in the eye by the Saudis".

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear.

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's emerging young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada. Saudi Arabia's media ministry said it was investigating the incident.

The official Twitter account of Global Affairs Canada also sent out a tweet, on Friday, Aug. 3: "Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi".

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