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.

 

 


Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program ‘fundamental to Kingdom’s energy sector’

Updated 12 min 9 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program ‘fundamental to Kingdom’s energy sector’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s atomic energy program is fundamental for developing a sustainable energy sector, a senior minister told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday.
The Kingdom plans to start building its first two nuclear power reactors this year and as many as 16 over the next 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion. The plan is to provide 15 percent of Saudi Arabia’s power from nuclear by 2032.
Speaking at the IAEA’s annual conference in Vienna, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said the atomic reactor projects were were part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to diversify its energy sources to nuclear and renewables.
The program “abides by all international treaties and conventions and best practices, adhering to the highest standards of safety, security and transparency,” Al Falih said.
The minister said Saudi Arabia was committed to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which calls for nuclear disarmament and stresses the commitment of nuclear power states to share their peaceful technologies with abiding member states.
He also said the Kingdom had called for cooperation with the international community to make the Middle East a nuclear weapons free area.
The US has started to reintroduce heavy sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, after Donald Trump pulled out of a deal with the country earlier this year to curb its atomic ambitions.
Al-Falih called on the international community to take a more stringent stance against all threats to regional and international security, particularly Iran, given its “alarming efforts to build its nuclear capabilities, in tandem with its increasing acts of sabotage and aggression against other states in the region.”