What Saudi Arabia's sanctions on Canada is really about

Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Press Agency

The United Arab Emirates, a strong regional ally, supported the Saudi response to Canada, with a senior government official calling Ottawa's behavior 'unacceptable'.

In a tweet from Saudi Airlines, the suspension will come into effect on August 13. The country also announced all new economic trade with Canada would be suspended.

Officials said they would cover cancellation fees, issue refunds and find alternative flights for stranded travellers, according to a story on the CBC National website.

The kingdom early Monday gave Canada's envoy Dennis Horak 24 hours to leave the country, in an abrupt rupture of relations over what Riyadh slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

The Saudi government also banned new trade with Canada, although it was unclear if it would affect existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of almost $4 billion and a $13 billion defence contract.

It says there were 327 students from Saudi Arabia at McGill during the 2017-2018 academic year.

They are involved in a human rights row over Canada's demands for Canadian activists jailed in the kingdom to be released.

However, despite the potential impact of his government's foreign policy on local schools and students studying in Okanagan, Fuhr said he stands behind Canada's foreign affairs minister.

The UAE has already taken Saudi Arabia's side in the dispute.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert avoided taking a side in the dispute.

Human rights groups reported that Ms Badawi was also detained last week, along with fellow women's rights campaigner Nassima al-Sadah.

"We're a little bit surprised by this sudden decision", said Associate Vice-President Livia Castellanos with University of Regina's worldwide program. 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.

The 14-year arms deal, which directly employs 2,000 people, was described at the time by the previous federal Conservative government as the largest advanced manufacturing export contract in Canadian history.

While Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa will wait to hear more details from Saudi Arabia before responding to the country's decision to freeze new trade deals and expel Canada's ambassador, she defended Canada's position, insisting Ottawa will always stand up for human rights. But so far, America's northern neighbor is sticking to its guns-no matter how many plane memes Saudi Arabia sends their way.

Though Canada is an official US ally through North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the USA also has deep financial and diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

"Instead of pursuing human rights reform, the government of Saudi Arabia has chosen to lash out with punitive measures in the face of criticism", said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International's Middle East Director of Campaigns. Saudi authorities accused Ottawa of interfering with its internal affairs.

Yes. 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 a court decision related to Raif Badawi as "medieval" and the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family as presiding over a "dictatorship".

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