USA refuses to back Canada in Saudi Arabia dispute

Frederick Owens
August 10, 2018

Also, as of Monday, all flights between Saudi Arabia and Toronto will be suspended. The university also didn't know how numerous Saudi students are in Windsor during the summer break.

Saudi Arabia's government said on Sunday that it would "put on hold all new business and investment with Canada" after a Global Affairs Canada tweet expressed concerns about the arrests of women's rights activists in the kingdom.

Canada says it does not know what will happen to a $13 billion defense contract to sell Canadian-made General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

The first source said Canada shared the view of foreign policy experts who believe the Saudi reaction reflected internal strains inside the kingdom, where 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is trying to push through domestic reforms.

A tweet from the Saudi Ministry of Education spokesman said that the country would end training programs, scholarship and fellowships in Canada. Officials said on state television that there are more than 12,000 Saudi students and family members in Canada, and that many will be transferred to other countries, including the United States.

"When it comes to the broader relationship with Saudi Arabia, our diplomats have asked procedural questions today and we're waiting for answers on how Saudi Arabia intends to go forward with the relationship", she said in Vancouver.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland stood by Canada's position on Monday, saying Canadians expect their government's foreign policy to be guided by their values.

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Human rights groups reported that Ms Badawi was also detained last week, along with fellow women's rights campaigner Nassima al-Sadah. Saudi Arabia has claimed that the arrests targeted those who sought to "destabilize the Kingdom", and were done by following the country's legal guidelines.

In Washington on Tuesday, Ms. Nauert balked when asked during a media briefing whether the USA government would publicly decry the recent arrest of activists in Saudi Arabia. In tandem, the Saudi ambassador to Canada would also be recalled as well in light of the spat.

"This particular case regarding Canada - we have raised that with the government of Saudi Arabia".

Saudi Arabia announced that it would not engage in any new trade dealings with Canada in response to Ottawa's call for the release of women's rights activists. He said barley sales to Saudi Arabia make up a significant share of Canadian exports and this market will be hard to replace because of agricultural protectionism around the world. Freedland urged the Saudi government to "immediately release them".

Ottawa has long refused to deepen ties with the Saudi government over the country's track record on human rights.

The Kingdom of Bahrain posted a statement on its website affirming its "full solidarity" with Saudi Arabia against "any external interference in its internal affairs or any side's attempt to undermine the Saudi sovereignty".

Saudi Arabia gave Canada's ambassador in Riyadh, Dennis Horak, 24 hours on Monday to leave the country, declaring him persona non grata. In 2015, Riyadh recalled its ambassador to Sweden and stopped issuing work visas for Swedes after the European Union member country's foreign minister described the Badawi court decision as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".

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