Could Canada’s ‘human rights first’ foreign policy cost billions?

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

A Saudi Arabian organisation has apologised for tweeting a digitally-altered image that showed a plane flying towards Toronto's CN Tower - in an apparent reference to a 9/11-style attack - amid an escalating row over Canada's call for the release of detained human rights activists in the kingdom.

The Saudi government plans to move them immediately to other schools in countries like the USA and United Kingdom.

Along with throwing out the Canadian ambassador and suspending air service between the two countries, Saudi Arabia is demanding thousands of its students leave Canada for new locations.

The Islamic Kingdom made the decision in retaliation to a Global Affairs Canada's tweet that expressed concerns about the arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in the country, such as Samar Badawi. Saudi Arabia said it would recall its ambassador to Canada as well.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", the Saudi ministry's said.

The Saudi cabinet renewed on Tuesday its rejection of any interference in its internal affairs, Saudi Press Agency reported.

"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".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland later indicated that Canada was "seriously concerned" by Saudi Arabia's actions. Much of that was tanks, armored personnel carriers and motor vehicles.

"Saudi Arabia was historically defined by its calculated diplomacy", Gulf affairs expert Khalil Harb told AFP.

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The sudden and unexpected dispute bore the hallmarks of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old future leader, whose recent foreign policy exploits include the war in Yemen, the boycott of Qatar and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri's surprise resignation broadcast during a visit to the kingdom.

"Hopefully, this thing blows over", said Reid, who noted his union fully supports Ottawa's decision to call out human rights abuses and abuses against women in Saudi Arabia.

"But we will continue underscoring challenges where and when they exist, in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere", he continued.

His university has 77 undergraduate and graduate students from Saudi Arabia, both new and returning, for the 2018-2019 school year.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry took exception to the use of the term "immediately release", calling it "unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states".

It's not the first time Saudi Arabia has lashed out diplomatically over the Badawi case. "They are the best interlocutor for Canada in the region", he said.

Saudi Arabia also suspended "all new business" and joint educational exchange programs with Canada.

"I think it would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of their right to study here", Freeland said. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, lives in Canada and received Canadian citizenship in July.

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

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