Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Saudi Arabia Threatens Canadian 9/11, Shows Limits of Twitter Diplomacy

The sharp diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has left Washington in a bind The sharp diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Canada has left Washington in a bind
Ebony Burgess | 10 August, 2018, 13:32

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. In response, the Saudi Arabian government took quick retaliatory action by expelling Canada's ambassador and calling their own home, suspending all new trade deals, cancelling all student exchanges between the two countries and suspending all flights to and from Toronto.

Samar was recently arrested for her vocal protests and activism against the repressive "male guardianship system" within Saudi Arabia for which she won the U.S. International Women of Courage Award in 2012.

Riyadh said that amounted to "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic worldwide norms and all global protocols".

In recent months Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on women driving, but it has also arrested activists, including more than a dozen high-profile campaigners for women's rights.

Saudi Arabia has suspended state-sponsored scholarships for about 16,000 students studying in Canada and ordered them to transfer their studies to post-secondary institutions in other countries. "We can't do it for them, they need to resolve it together", US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam" online back in 2014.

"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.

Riyadh accuses Ottawa of meddling Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

It's So Difficult - Mauricio Pochettino On Tottenham's Transfer Prospects
We hope he's still our player by Friday", Villa manager Steve Bruce told BBC West Midlands earlier this week. It's a massive effort from the club.

While both countries are friends of the US, "both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a media briefing later Tuesday.

Saudi state media initially claimed the plane tweet was a tribute to the departing ambassador sent by a low level staffer (the Saudi equivalent of the "social media intern" defense).

The Saudi Ministry of Media ordered the Twitter account of the Infographic KSA, @Infographic_KSA, that posted the photo shut down, apparently unamused by its invocation of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in NY.

The impact on University of Northern British Columbia will be more cultural than financial if Saudi Arabia makes good on a vow to recall students attending Canadian universities, according to president Daniel Weeks. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and received Canadian citizenship in July. Saudi Arabia said it would recall its ambassador to Canada as well.

Tensions between Canada and Saudi Arabia continued into Tuesday, with the Saudis announcing they are cutting all purchases of Canadian wheat and barley.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa, said Saudi irritation at the way the General Dynamics contract was handled also helped explain Riyadh's response.

Strangely, in spite of all this, Saudi Arabia and the United States are still strategic allies.

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