Saudi Arabia's row with Canada: Silencing Western criticism?

Saudi Arabia's row with Canada: Silencing Western criticism?

Saudi Arabia's state airline is suspending flights in and out of Toronto amid an intensifying diplomatic row with Canada.

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.

"Throughout its long history, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has never accepted any interference in its domestic affairs by, or orders from any country", the country's foreign ministry wrote on Twitter, accompanied by a weird and long-winded statement.

Last Tuesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 15 human rights defenders and women's rights activists critical of the Saudi government had been arrested or detained arbitrarily since 15 May.

The kingdom went further to a plan to shift Saudi university students studying in Canada to other countries such as the United States and suspended all flights by its national carrier to and from Canada.

Among the arrested is Samar Badawi, an award-winning women's-rights activist who sought to abolish the country's male-guardianship laws. "We can't do it for them, they need to resolve it together", US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. He won Europe's top human rights prize in 2015.

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Egypt said it stands in "solidarity" with the Saudis against Canadian meddling, while Bahrain accused Canada of attempting to undermine Saudi Arabia's sovereignty.

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

This undated and unlocated image available on the Canadian Embassy in Saudi Arabia website on August 06, 2018 shows the Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak official portrait. But last fall, he said, the university had 49 undergraduate and 21 graduate students registered from Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, the Saudi foreign ministry said it had given the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to leave the country and recalled its own ambassador to Canada.

The Middle Eastern nation has also frozen all new trade and investment with Canada, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi Arabia will withdraw all of its students studying in Canada in an intensifying rift between the two countries over the Kingdom's human rights record.

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Ensaf Haidar, Raif Badawi's wife, who lives in Quebec with her three children, said Monday she was surprised when she heard about the two new arrests.

Canada has asked its worldwide friends to help end a rift between it and Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Media said in a tweet earlier Monday that it is investigating a Twitter account that posted a photo of an Air Canada plane heading toward the CN Tower, eerily reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks.

The rupture, which underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, comes after Canada denounced a new crackdown on women and human rights campaigners in the kingdom.

"The United Arab Emirates are going to want to maintain relationships with Canada".

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