The recent feud between Canada and Saudi Arabia has continuously escalated, with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) adding more and more punitive measures for Canada because it stuck “its nose where it doesn’t belong.” Canada staunchly objected to Saudi Arabia’s treatment several activists, and in response Saudi Arabia started with harsh words via Twitter, and those escalated into tangible responses. Saudi citizens have expressed both sympathy and disdain for Canada’s actions, and many of the latter have criticized Canada’s history of women’s rights.
Read about how all this got started here.
In response to Canada’s criticisms, Saudi Arabia very quickly did the following:
- Expelled the Canadian ambassador from Saudi Arabia
- KSA has suspended new trade with Canada
- Transferred all Saudi patients receiving medical treatment in Canada to non-Canadian healthcare facilities
- Pulled scholarships for Saudi students throughout Canada
- Selling Canadian assets “no matter the cost”
The 32-year-old crown prince has made some recent changes, that the international community has generally seen as positive, like allowing women to drive. However, despite whatever the prince’s intentions may be, the entire institution of Saudi Arabia is still very adamant in its policies toward political activists — their harsh enforcement of these policies have taken flak over the years. Even royalty must submit to Sharia law in Saudi Arabia.
Canada has not backed down in their objections to Saudi Arabia’s treatment of their activists. Foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said that,
Let me be very clear with everyone here and with Canadians who may be watching and listening: Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women’s rights are human rights … There is nothing new or novel about Canada’s support for human rights, including women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that,
Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly, clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world. We will continue to do that, we will continue to stand up for Canadian values and indeed for universal values and human rights at any occasion.”
Many other nations have remained silent during these exchanges. The U.S. and United Kingdom have remained particularly silent, and some experts say it’s because of the potential financial fallout from standing with their ally. For example, Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s largest importers of weapons — in 2017, KSA spent billions of dollars in deals with American energy companies and arms suppliers.
Featured image: Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, left, gestures while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, June 14, 2018. | Yuri Kadobnov, Pool Photo via AP