Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

Harbash added that they are capable of transferring all Saudi students from Canada to countries with cultural missions in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia, all of which are considered countries with top education institutions, and have good relations with Saudi Arabia.

"Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in Canadian domestic affairs", the Foreign Ministry said.

The notice comes after Saudi Arabia said Sunday it was ordering Canada's ambassador to leave the country and freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada in a spat over human rights.

Egypt saw crucial United States military aid frozen a year ago over its own human rights record amid one of its toughest ever crackdowns on dissent, but that decision was reversed last month.

The kingdom will suspend educational exchange programmes with Canada and move Saudi scholarship recipients to other countries, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya reported on Monday.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose association of the six Gulf Arab countries, the Arab League and Palestine also supported Saudi policy.

Triggered by Ottawa's comments expressing concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, the dispute shows no sign of end with the Kingdom announcing one action after another to escalate the row between the two U.S. allies.

Sources told Reuters news agency that Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will most likely turn to the UAE for assistance, after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic and trade ties with Canada.

Saudi Arabia's state media threatened Toronto in this grim tweet.

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Thirty-four Saudi students enrolled for the upcoming academic season starting in September are also expected to be affected. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totalled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

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

Saudi Arabia notably was angry with Canada for demanding that Riyadh "immediately release" some of the detained activists.

Among those arrested was Samar Badawi, whose brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Guido Steinberg, a Middle East expert at the German Institute for worldwide and Security Affairs, believes there are two reasons why Saudi Arabia has reacted so harshly to the statements from the Canadian Foreign Ministry.

"We're reaching out ... to identify their circumstances, what their needs are, whether they have families with them", she said.

The United States has asked the Saudi government for more details on the detention of activists and urged it to respect due process, a State Department official said on Monday, in the first comments by Washington since a dispute erupted.

Vice Provost Patti McDougall said in an interview Tuesday only nine students from the kingdom are registered for classes in 2018-19, but they suspect the number who were planning to return was much higher.

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