There is much at risk for Canada — Editorial

King Salman (right) and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Updated 07 August 2018
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There is much at risk for Canada — Editorial

Canada would be well advised to consider its next steps carefully; more often than not, a rift with the Kingdom is usually hard to fix. The potential consequences of its may not only harm future investment and large-scale trade, but also carry the real risk of upsetting the entire Muslim and Arab worlds.

Within hours, leading Arab and Muslim states, organisations and individuals such as the UAE, Bahrain, the Muslim World League and the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council  immediately sided with Riyadh in this diplomatic rift. 

It began when a Canadian government department issued a statement demanding the immediate release of all activists detained in Saudi Arabia; Riyadh responded by expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its own envoy for consultation.

Some might argue that this could all have easily been avoided if Saudi Arabia had simply released the activists. However, the Saudi position is clear: Riyadh will not be dictated to. The Saudi government’s position is that the arrests took place in accordance with local laws. According to the public prosecutor's office, some of the detainees have confessed to conspiring with anti-Saudi bodies abroad. They should therefore be put on trial, not released simply because Canada demands it.

Of course, the situation would have been different had it been an individual Canadian politician, an NGO or a journalist making the statement. The issue here is that we are dealing with a public statement made on behalf of Canada’s equivalent of the ministry of foreign affairs. 

Furthermore, the statement did not just raise concerns, or even object to the arrests — it demanded the detainees’ immediate release, which Saudi Arabia considers a blatant interference in its internal affairs and a breach of diplomatic etiquette.

Nevertheless, it is not too late for Canada to fix its relationship with Riyadh. Ottawa is entitled to its view, and it may very well communicate that view through the proper channels; but it should realize it is in no position to make demands of another sovereign country when the matter does not involve Canada. 

The Canadian government could issue a new statement retracting its previous demands, and say — for instance — that they reflected only the position of the official who made them. Then, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should send a delegation on the first plane and meet the Saudi leadership in the Kingdom, because the longer this issue continues the more difficult it will become to solve. Case in point: Qatar.

 

 


Princess Reema meets US treasury chief Steven Mnuchin

Updated 18 July 2019
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Princess Reema meets US treasury chief Steven Mnuchin

DUBAI: Newly appointed Saudi Ambassador to the United States Princess Reema bint Bandar met with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss opportunities to further strengthen the countries’ partnership.

The Saudi Arabian embassy in the US, in a tweet, said the two senior officials explored “ways to strengthen Saudi Arabia’s close partnership with the United States on countering the financing of terrorism, as well as US support for the Kingdom’s economic reforms.”

 

 

Princess Reema, who assumed her new office on July 4, earlier met with US President Donald Trump to present her credentials as the Kingdom’s top diplomat in Washington.

Princess Reema became the Kingdom’s first female ambassador after being nominated to the post on February 23 – to replace Prince Khaled bin Salman who was appointed deputy defense minister – and took her oath before King Salman in Riyadh in April.