Saudi Arabia blocks flights from Canada

Saudi Arabia blocks flights from Canada

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it would be suspending all government-funded scholarships for Saudi students in Canada and would transfer students to other countries, escalating a dispute that started when the Canadian government criticized the Saudi state over human rights. In response, the Saudi Arabian government took quick retaliatory action by expelling Canada's ambassador and calling their own home, suspending all new trade deals, cancelling all student exchanges between the two countries and suspending all flights to and from Toronto.

The dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia stems from a tweet from Global Affairs Canada which called for the immediate release of jailed blogger Raif Badawi and his sister Samar.

Riyadh said that amounted to "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic worldwide norms and all global protocols".

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.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, pictured left.

"Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies", Nauert said.

Despite the diplomatic blowback, Freeland has stayed firm on her criticism of the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said because the statement Sunday from Saudi Arabia specified that new trade deals will freeze, it is hard to determine what the economic impact will be. "Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this hard time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi".

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Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote on Twitter on Thursday that she was "very alarmed" to learn that Ms Badawi had been detained.

Dozens of students will be impacted in Calgary by Saudi Arabia's decision to withdraw its citizens studying under scholarships at Canadian universities.

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. "We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws", Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted Monday.

The Saudi foreign ministry ordered Horak to leave the country, and called the use of "immediately release" in Canada's tweet "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

Roughly 10 per cent of the barley Canada exports is sent to Saudi Arabia. Freeland said the embassy in Saudi Arabia is still in place and providing services to Canadians.

"So neither Saudi nor Canada are going to be affected much by stopping the wheat and barley trade".

"Saudi Arabia is a strong country and doesn't need Canada, Germany or even America", he told DW.

"Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot".

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