Saudi-Canada row: What the sanctions are really about

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir gives a speech during the 8th Ministerial Meeting of China Arab States Cooperation Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

Canada plans to seek help from United Arab Emirates and Britain to defuse an escalating diplomatic dispute with Saudi Arabia, sources said on Tuesday, as traders revealed the Arab state would no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley.

Amid a diplomatic spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada, a pro-government Saudi Twitter account shared - and then deleted - a digitally altered image that appeared to show a plane flying toward the skyline of Toronto.

The dispute ostensibly arose because of a tweet issued by Global Affairs Canada decrying the arrest and detention of two female bloggers and activists.

In response, the Saudi government has expelled Canada's ambassador from the country and frozen all new trade with Canada.

"We are always going to speak up for human rights; we're always going to speak up for women's rights; and that is not going to change", she told reporters in Vancouver on Monday.

Momani called it, "getting tough on Canada", which she said other countries in the region might welcome if they view Canadian foreign policy to be led by human rights concerns.

Ms Badawi is known for challenging Saudi Arabia's male guardianship system.

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

All of which is to say that maybe the United States, 17 years after 9/11 and the missing 28 pages, should really, finally, reconsider its relationship to the repressive, Al Qaeda-dealing Saudi regime.

Among those arrested was Samar Badawi, whose brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

"It shows the real colours of the regime, and the worldwide community should toughen its tone against the Saudi government", she said.

Both the Saudi and Canadian ambassadors were away on leave when it was made.

Canada's previous Conservative government, which lost power to the Liberals in 2015, also had challenges with Riyadh over human rights.

"There is a clear, uniquely Saudi dimension to this in the sense that in the last three years Saudi Arabia has been behaving very aggressively and assertively in the Middle East", he said, noting the blockade of Qatar and the war in Yemen.

Additionally, according to Reuters, Bahrain said on Monday it stood with Saudi Arabia in a political row with Canada, rejecting what it called Ottawa's interference in Riyadh's internal affairs.

Spokesperson Heather Nauert added during a briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the USA has raised similar issues with Saudi Arabia.

"These countries are able to host the students, and we at the ministry are committed to facilitating the students' transfers so they can easily complete their education", he said.

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