Saudi Arabia appears to threaten Canada with 9/11-style attack

Geneva Stokes
August 10, 2018

The Saudi state airline, Saudia, said in a statement on its official Twitter account that it would suspend all flights to Toronto starting next Monday, Aug. 13.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement that Canada was "deeply concerned that Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada's ambassador in response to Canadian statements in defence of human rights activists detained in the kingdom".

Up to 31 University of Guelph students may be affected by the recent Saudi Arabia government decision to cancel scholarships for more than 15,000 Saudi students attending university in Canada.

According to the Mail and Globe, which cited Statistics Canada, Canada sold more than $33.7 million (CAD$44-million) worth of barley to Saudi Arabia in 2017.

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's emerging young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

"Canadians expect our foreign policy to be driven by and to embody Canadian values, and that is how we intend to continue our foreign policy".

Saudi Arabia's market closure comes on the heels of ongoing trade disputes in other key Canadian grain markets including Italy, Peru, Vietnam, and India as well as increased protectionist sentiments within the United States.

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.

However, despite the potential impact of his government's foreign policy on local schools and students studying in Okanagan, Fuhr said he stands behind Canada's foreign affairs minister.

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She added: "Let me be very clear: Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".

"Both Canada and the US lost the Middle East market a long time ago. because they are at a freight disadvantage (with higher ocean shipping costs) to the European Union and Black Sea export markets", the consultant said.

McMaster University says it has about 150 Saudi students in the faculty of Health Sciences and another 40 in other programs.

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.

Though Canada is an official USA ally through North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the US also has deep financial and diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia. Raif was arrested in 2015 and has been sentenced to seven years in prison as well as 1,000 lashes for "insulting Islam".

Riyadh has also stopped all medical treatment programmes in Canada and is co-ordinating for the transfer of all Saudi patients from Canadian hospitals to other hospitals outside Canada, the Saudi press agency reported early on Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia gave Canada's ambassador in Riyadh, Dennis Horak, 24 hours on Monday to leave the country, declaring him persona non grata.

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have publicly backed Saudi Arabia in the dispute.

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