Saudi dispute not expected to have much impact on TRU after all

Saudi Press Agency

The photo was posted after tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada erupted this week over the the Trudeau government's call to release jailed Saudi women's rights activists.

Saudi Arabia announced that it would not engage in any new trade dealings with Canada in response to Ottawa's call for the release of women's rights activists.

The kingdom asked on Monday the Canadian envoy to leave the country and recalled its ambassador from Canada.

"Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women's rights, and freedom of expression around the world".

Saudi Arabia has said it is freezing all new trade with Canada and expelling its ambassador over its "interference" in the kingdom's domestic affairs.

"Branding Saudi Arabia as an attractive destination for investment and trade is one of the underlying assumptions of Saudi Vision 2030", said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa.

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

In recent months Saudi Arabia has lifted a ban on women driving, but it has also arrested activists, including more than a dozen high-profile campaigners for women's rights. Much of that was tanks, armored personnel carriers and motor vehicles. Well, sure, but we're talking about Saudi Arabia here.

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Morneau's comments reiterated the position expressed Monday by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, but did not directly address the larger question of what sort of lasting economic impact the dispute could have, including on Canada's $15-billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Nauert declined to denounce Saudi Arabia's detainment of the Badawi sisters. "Canada and all other nations need to know that they can't claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens". "I don't think it has been as big as people thought it would be, but there definitely seems to be some more traffic in terms of what has happened there", said Darling.

"This particular case regarding Canada - we have raised that with the government of Saudi Arabia".

Trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion (€ 3.4 billion) previous year, a significant portion of it came from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis, according to The Globe and Mail.

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

All of which is to say that maybe the United States, 17 years after 9/11 and the missing 28 pages, should really, finally, reconsider its relationship to the repressive, Al Qaeda-dealing Saudi regime.

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.

Saudi Arabia appeared to have shut down the account on Tuesday.

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