Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada

Saudi Arabia Expels Canadian Ambassador, To Withdraw Students From Canada Over Women's Rights Criticism

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.

Saudia issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13.

The row erupted after Canada came out in support of human and women's rights and called on Saudi Arabia to release human rights activists arrested by Riyadh.

Last week, Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over the arrests of seven Saudi civil society activists.

Responding to the Saudi move to freeze trade and expel the Canadian ambassador, Ottawa said, "Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".

In response, Canada has refused to back down.

"We are always going to speak up for human rights, we are always going to speak up for women's rights and that is not going to change", she said, adding that Canadians "expect" their government's foreign policy to be driven by Canadian values.

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"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, said it is hard to determine what the economic impact on Canada would be without specifics on which trade deals will be affected.

Raif Badawi's wife has been granted asylum by Canada.

But the damage could be more significant if a $15 billion deal agreed in 2014 for Canada to sell Riyadh light armoured vehicles is scrapped, as thousands of jobs in Canada could be lost, Juneau said. Saudi Arabia long has been sensitive to global pressure over the Raif Badawi sentence.

Momani called it, "getting tough on Canada", which she said other countries in the region might welcome if they view Canadian foreign policy to be led by human rights concerns.

The true impact of Saudi Arabia's flexing of diplomatic muscle is still unclear. The Twitter account has been described as "an official government" account in Saudi-owned state media, although the relationship to the Saudi state is not clear.

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