Several tweets started a war of words between Saudi Arabia and Canada leading to the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador from Saudi Arabia. According to the kingdom, Canadian foreign minister was interfering in the case of the arrest of civil society activists as they asked for the release of women’s rights activists Samar Badawi and Nassima al-Sadah who were arrested in July.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.
— Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018
After the tweet, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry announced the expulsion of the Canadian ambassador. He also responded in another tweet, saying “Using the phrase ‘immediately release’ in the Canadian statement is very unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between States.”
The government also froze all new trade with Canada, ordered around 16,000 students who are studying there to either return home or complete their studies in another country and canceled all direct flights to Toronto via its state airline. In addition to stopping all medical treatment programs in Canada.
Despite the Saudi measurements, Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said: “Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world.”
Some analysts see this as a sign of the new aggressive foreign policy pursued by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and it shows that the kingdom is no longer willing to quietly ignore Western demands for political liberalization.