Saudi Airlines suspends all flights to and from Canada amid growing dispute

by Abel Hampton August 8, 2018, 0:38
Saudi Airlines suspends all flights to and from Canada amid growing dispute

In another explicit display of the country's displeasure with Canada, Saudi Arabia's state airline has suspended all flights to and from Toronto.

Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador, in a stern gesture of retaliation after Ottawa urged it to free arrested civil society activists.

The airline now operates at least two routes flying out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport - one to the Saudi capital city of Riyadh, the other to the city of Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir countered shortly after in an Arabic tweet saying the "surprising Canadian position is based on inaccurate information, the arrests are subject to our judicial systems that guarantee their rights".

The first Canadian source said Ottawa had no regrets about speaking out on human rights in Saudi Arabia.

Momani called it, "getting tough on Canada", which she said other countries in the region might welcome if they view Canadian foreign policy to be led by human rights concerns. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and recently became a Canadian citizen.

The European Commission said it's seeking clarification about the arrest of activists in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia long has been sensitive to worldwide pressure over the Raif Badawi sentence.

The federal office says Canada imported $2.6 billion worth of goods from Saudi Arabia, with $2.5 billion of that in mineral production. The infographic also accuses Canada of "sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong".

Here's how we got there: While we've been digesting the news that Saudi Arabia has been using USA aid in Yemen and making alliances with Osama Bin Laden's weak-but-intact terror franchisees, the Saudis got into a fight with our neighbors to the north over women's rights - specifically, whether to have any.

"The normal diplomatic route would have been to call the ambassador in and to let him know your displeasure and then to try to move from there", MacKay, Canada's foreign affairs minister from 2006 to 2007 and defence minister from 2007 to 2013, said in an interview with BNN.

Canada can easily replace the oil it imports from Saudi Arabia should relations with the Middle Eastern kingdom deteriorate to the point that trade in crude is halted, says an energy economist.

Saudi Arabia's sudden sharp response to criticism shows the limits of reforms by Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who runs its day-to-day government.

"It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here", Freeland told reporters.

A handful of Canadian companies operate in Saudi Arabia and could potentially be affected by the ongoing trade battle.

Riyadh's singling out of Canada appears to be aimed at strongly discouraging other Western governments from criticising its human rights violations.

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