Why Saudi Arabia’s battle with Canada should not come as a shock

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In a tweet on Friday, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said it was “gravely involved” by the arrest of Saudi activist Samar Badawi and different ladies’s rights campaigners, and referred to as for his or her launch.
Since then, the Saudi authorities has responded with a steady string of retaliatory measures, expelling the Canadian ambassador from Riyadh and recalling the Saudi envoy to Ottawa, suspending Saudi state airline flights to Toronto, and ending 1000’s of Saudi scholarship packages in Canada.

Then on Tuesday, Saudi authorities introduced they’d halt all medical therapy packages in Canada and switch Saudi sufferers to hospitals exterior the nation.

The dominion additionally stated it plans to freeze future commerce relations between the 2 international locations.

Overseas Minister Adel al-Jubeir stated Saudi Arabia wouldn’t tolerate any overseas meddling in its inner affairs, and advised his nation wouldn’t be backing down anytime quickly.

“Canada has made a mistake and desires to repair it,” al-Jubeir stated Wednesday. “The ball is in Canada’s court docket.”

Saudi Arabia’s response has struck some observers as a disproportionate overreaction to a comparatively routine criticism of the nation’s human rights file. US Senator Bernie Sanders described it as “outrageous” on Tuesday.
MBS is known for his aggressive reforms and muscular foreign policy.

Regional analysts, nevertheless, say the Saudi response is in step with Mohammed bin Salman’s heavy-handed — and infrequently thin-skinned — strategy to energy because the 32-year-old took over as Crown Prince.

“Since Mohammed bin Salman has ascended to energy, there’s been an intensified repression of dissent,” stated Human Rights Watch Saudi Arabia researcher Hiba Zayadin. “What we’re seeing now could be that he does not wish to be held accountable in any manner, whether or not that is by the Saudis themselves or by the worldwide neighborhood.”

Within the 12 months since he was promoted to first-in-line to the throne, MBS, as he’s identified, has launched into an aggressive mission to modernize Saudi Arabia and reassert the nation on the worldwide stage.

At house, he locked up hundreds of the country’s business elite (together with a few of his personal family and different Saudi princes) throughout a so-called “anti-corruption” drive, and used the billions of {dollars} recovered to ease the pain of austerity.
Mohammed bin Salman is on a make or break mission
And whereas MBS has lifted the ban on ladies driving and opened the primary new movie show within the nation in 35 years, Saudi authorities have been cracking down laborious on (predominantly ladies) activists, arresting a number of campaigners this 12 months.
MBS has additionally taken a tough line overseas, instigating a bruising blockade of its tiny neighbor Qatar, selecting fights with regional rival Iran, and prosecuting a costly war to oust rebels from Yemen.

Whereas a number of Center Japanese allies have backed up the Saudi response to Canada, the response from Western international locations has been muted to date.

“It is a little bit bit disappointing that nobody feels they’re ready to return out and assist the Canadians on points that just some years in the past they most likely would have been much more vocal on,” stated Peter Salisbury, a fellow at London-based suppose tank Chatham Home.

Consultants worry the spat may set a brand new tone for discussions about human rights among the many worldwide neighborhood. They warn that the Trump administration’s downplaying of human rights in overseas policymaking will additional allow authoritarian rulers to hold out abuses.

US President Donald Trump has been reluctant to publicly criticize Saudi Arabia for its rights file, and the State Department was criticized for failing to single out the dominion within the introduction to its 2017 human rights report.
Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton pose with Samar Badawi as she receives the 2012 International Women of Courage Award.

“(Saudi Arabia’s) actions are in some ways enabled by the Trump administration’s shift of focus away from human rights by and enormous,” stated Brookings Institute fellow Hady Amr. “The President of america has expanded the boundaries of what’s thought-about regular habits. Due to that different international locations are a lot freer to behave inside these boundaries.”

On Tuesday, a State Division spokeswoman stated that though “we now have a daily dialogue with the federal government of Saudi Arabia on human rights and different points,” the US was encouraging Saudi Arabia and Canada to kind out their variations amongst themselves.

Samar Badawi, whose activist brother Raif has been behind bars since 2012 and is sentenced to obtain 1,000 lashes, was arrested final week, rights teams stated.

Raif Badawi’s spouse and kids have been granted asylum in Canada in 2015.

The Saudi Overseas Ministry stated these arrested have been “lawfully detained by the public prosecution for committing crimes punishable by relevant legislation, which additionally assured the detainees’ rights and supplied them with due course of in the course of the investigation and trial.”

CNN’s Sarah El Sirgany and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.





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