Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Saudi rules out mediation in Canada row, mulls new measures

Saudi rules out mediation in Canada row, mulls new measures

Saudi Arabia on Sunday expelled Canada's ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa's call to free detained Saudi civil society activists.

Saudi Arabia responded by reducing the level of diplomatic relations and stopping cooperation with Ottawa in several fields, most notably trade, education and medicine. "We have always said that the politicization of human rights matters is unacceptable", Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

The Saudi Arabian regime triggered a sell off of Canadian assets on Tuesday morning, amid an escalating row between the two nations over human rights.

Saudi media took a decidedly dark turn on Monday when it appeared to threaten Canada with a 9/11-style attack by tweeting a harshly worded infographic with an image of an airliner flying towards Toronto's skyline. " It subsequently froze all new trade agreements with Canada and gave the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh 24 hours to leave".

Some analysts perceive the move as both a power play for the kingdom's young leader and a demonstration put on for the benefit of countries with stronger ties to Saudi Arabia than Canada.

"It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the state department, on Tuesday.

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Inflows slowed in recent years mainly due to low oil prices, but regional turmoil doesn't help, critics of the government say.

Diplomatic channels and trade negotiations were suspended last week, and some flights from Saudi Arabia to Canada halted.

Other sanctions include Saudi patients in Canada having their treatments stopped and being relocated to a medical facility outside the country.

"Crucifixions" in Saudi Arabia typically involve beheading the condemned, then sewing their head back on and putting their body on public display - hanging them from a pole or a cross, according to Amnesty International.

The dispute looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth almost $4 billion a year. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

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