SAUDI ARABIA - Riyadh Expels Canadian Envoy

Arno Froese

Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador, in a stern gesture of retaliation after Ottawa urged it to free arrested civil society activists.

The sudden sharp response to criticism shows the limits of reforms by Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who runs its day-to-day government. He has launched a campaign of social and economic change, but has not eased the absolute monarchy’s total ban on political activism.

It was not immediately clear what effect, if any, the ban on new trade would have on existing annual Saudi-Canadian trade of nearly $4 billion and on a $13 billion defense contract.

“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” said spokeswoman Marie-Pier Baril.

Canada had expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, including prominent women’s rights campaigner Samar Badawi.

“We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists,” Global Affairs Canada said on its Twitter feed.

Riyadh said that amounted to “a blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols.”

“Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot. If you want to open up your country to the world, you don’t start expelling ambassadors and freezing trade with countries such as Canada,” said Joost Hiltermann, regional program director for the International Crisis Group.

“They want to impose and carefully control reforms, because they are deadly afraid of bottom-up change, for example via women activists. But this gets them in trouble with their Western partners.”, 6 August 2018

Arno's commentary

Canada can pride itself on having one of the best human rights report cards. They not only talk about freedom, but also actually practice it.

One must remember that Saudi Arabia is one of the most oppressive regimes on earth; just carrying a Bible in public could land you in jail. Virtually all the terrorists who were involved in the 9/11 attack were Saudis: Bin Laden and the various terrorist-oriented groups. Yet, money talks; in this case it is petrol dollars, and only a few countries have the courage to oppose Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is carefully watching the activity and statements made by foreign countries. The country’s population of over 28 million is made up of 90% Arabs and 10% Afro-Asians. Islam is the official government-sanctioned religion, and non-Muslims are not allowed to have Saudi citizenship. Furthermore, non-Muslim places of worship are not permitted (2013), according to the CIA World Factbook.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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