We’re not a banana republic, Saudi FM tells Canada

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. (Reuters)
Updated 27 September 2018
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We’re not a banana republic, Saudi FM tells Canada

  • ‘In Canada we became a political football. Find another ball to play with, not Saudi Arabia,’ Al-Jubeir says
  • Canadian Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia Freeland has insisted that the issue was about human rights

JEDDAH: Canada's leadership was “playing into the hands of extremists” when it tried to pressure Saudi Arabia into releasing some people being held for serious crimes, the Kingdom’s foreign minister has said.

Speaking during a multi-topic discussion at a forum of the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in New York on Wednesday, Adel Al-Jubeir said Canada had all the right to criticize Saudi Arabia about human rights or women rights, but it went overboard in “demanding” the “immediate release” of certain detainees.

“What are we a banana republic? Would any country accept this? No, we don’t. If you do this, you play into the hands of the extremists who are opposing our reform process,” Al-Jubeir said.

Stung by Canada’s insolence, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh early last month, recalled its own ambassador from Ottawa, and froze all new business and investment transactions with the North American nation.

Riyadh has also said it was moving all Saudi scholarship students out of Canada, unless Ottawa apologized.

In response, Canadian Minister of Global Affairs Chrystia Freeland has insisted that the issue was about human rights.

During the forum on Wednesday, Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia’s stand remained unchanged considering that Canada has not backed down.

“We did not do this, you did. Fix it. You owe us an apology. Apologize, say you made a mistake,” he said.

“In Canada we became a political football. Find another ball to play with, not Saudi Arabia,” Al-Jubeir added.

He explained that the detainees that the Canadian government had been lobbying for were facing charges of espionage.

He said the Canadian ambassador met the Saudi public prosecutor, who explained to him the charges are not about rights but about national security. 

“These were individuals who were accused of taking money from governments, accused of recruiting people to obtain sensitive information from the government and passing it on to hostile powers, accused of raising money and providing it to people who are hostile to Saudi Arabia outside of Saudi Arabia. Some of them were released, others will go to trial and the evidence will be revealed to the world. The Canadians knew that this was not about rights. And for a Tweet to come out in this manner from our perspective is outrageous,” Al-Jubeir explained.


Houthis targetted civilian facility in Najran with an explosives-laden drone, says Arab Coalition

Updated 21 May 2019
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Houthis targetted civilian facility in Najran with an explosives-laden drone, says Arab Coalition

  • Houthis also fired two ballistic missiles toward the holy city of Makkah and Jeddah on Monday

RIYADH: Houthi militants had tried to hit a civilian facility in Saudi Arabia's southern border province of Najran with a drone carrying explosives, the Arab Coalition supporting Yemen's legitimate government said on Tuesday.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman of the Saudi-led military coalition said the target was a vital facility.
"The Houthi-backed terrorist militia of Iran continues to carry out acts of terrorism that pose a real threat to regional and international security by targeting civilian objects and civilian facilities, as well as civilian citizens and residents of all nationalities," Al-Maliki said.

The statement did not mention casualties and gave no further details.

Earlier on Monday, Al-Maliki said Houthis fired two ballistic missiles toward the holy city of Makkah and Jeddah but both were shot down by Saudi air defense forces.

The Iran-backed Houthis have fired dozens of missiles at targets in Saudi Arabia, including the capital Riyadh, since the Arab Coalition intervened in 2015 to restore the government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, which was ousted in a Houthi coup.