What Saudi Arabia's sanctions on Canada is really about

Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador, To Withdraw Students From Canada Over Women's Rights Criticism

2, Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, sent out a tweet regarding human rights in the Middle East kingdom.

The news dominated the worldwide headlines and social media, especially in Saudi Arabia, where Saudis launched an Arabic hashtag "السعوديه_تطرد_السفير_الكندي" that literally translates to: "Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador". It could also have an impact on Canadian oil imports: Canada imports nine per cent of its crude oil from Saudi Arabia, much of which goes to the Atlantic provinces.

Ottawa did not publicly back down over the shock expulsion of Dennis Horak, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland saying Canada would continue to defend human rights around the world.

'Canada will always stand up for human rights, in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights, ' Freeland told an audience in Vancouver.

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.

Saudi Arabian airlines announced the suspension flights to and from Toronto from August 13 in the latest escalation in the diplomatic spat that broke out earlier this week.

The United States said Tuesday that both Canada and Saudi Arabia are "close partners" of the USA, and asked the Saudi government for more information of the detention of several activists.

Samar was arrested along with fellow campaigner Nassima al-Sadah last week, the latest victims of what Human Rights Watch called an "unprecedented government crackdown on the women's rights movement".

Canada's economic relationship with Saudi Arabia is not particularly significant to Riyadh, unlike the USA or other Western partner governments, which experts say makes Ottawa an easier target.

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

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said it is hard to determine what the economic impact on Canada would be without specifics on which trade deals will be affected.

Regardless of how allies and others are perceiving the measure, it has rallied support among Saudis, said Momani, adding that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia has a very young nationalistic base, many of whom have taken to Twitter to celebrate the decision and simultaneously criticize Canada.

"We are waiting to hear from Saudi Arabia details of its response and we look forward to hearing those details".

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