The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat Open in fullscreen

The New Arab & agencies

Saudia suspends flights to Canada, escalating diplomatic spat

Saudia Airlines scraps flights to Toronto [@AlexInAir]

Date of publication: 7 August, 2018

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
The state-owned airline's move follows Riyadh's decision to expel Canada's ambassador, recall its own envoy and halt all new trade with Ottawa.

Riyadh showed no signs of backing down from its diplomatic dispute with Ottawa over human rights, after it announced its airline Saudia will halt all flights to Canada.

The announcement follows Monday's decision to expel Canada's ambassador, recall its own envoy to Ottawa and freeze all new trade over what it slammed as "interference" in its internal affairs.

Ottawa did not publicly back down over the shock expulsion of Dennis Horak, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland saying Canada would continue to defend human rights around the world.

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

Saudi Arabia's diplomatic move underscores a newly aggressive foreign policy led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and comes after Canada denounced the arrest of women's rights activist Samar Badawi. 

A pro-government Saudi Twitter account provoked outrage when it posted - then deleted - a 9/11-style digitally altered image showing an Air Canada plane flying towards Canada's tallest skyscraper the CN Tower. 

The account later apologised and the image was reposted without the plane. Saudi Arabia's media ministry said it was investigating the incident. 

In April, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his "serious concern" over the continued jailing of Samar Badawi's brother, the blogger Raif Badawi, to Saudi King Salman.

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children.

But Trudeau's Liberal government has also come under fire for approving a $15 billion (Canadian) arms deal to Saudi Arabia, which includes "heavy assault" vehicles, signed under his Conservative predecessor Stephen Harper.

Thousands of jobs in Canada could be at risk if the arms agreement is scrapped.

When asked about the contract, Freeland said the government "looks forward" to hearing from Riyadh about the future of the deal.

Riyadh's singling out of Canada appears to be aimed at strongly discouraging other Western governments from criticising its human rights violations. 

Canada's economic relationship with Saudi Arabia is not particularly significant to Riyadh, unlike the US or other Western partner governments, which experts say makes Ottawa an easier target.  

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More