Saudi Arabia 'threatens' Canada with 9/11 style attack

Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Press Agency

The United Arab Emirates, a strong regional ally, supported the Saudi response to Canada, with a senior government official calling Ottawa's behavior 'unacceptable'. Later on Monday, the Saudi state airline, Saudia, suspended flights to and from Toronto by August 13. The university also didn't know how numerous Saudi students are in Windsor during the summer break.

Advertisment Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic and trade ties with Canada over the weekend after the Canadian government in Ottawa called for the release of several women's rights activists who are imprisoned in the Middle Eastern country.

"Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in Canadian domestic affairs", the Foreign Ministry said.

A tweet from the Saudi Ministry of Education spokesman said that the country would end training programs, scholarship and fellowships in Canada. Plans apparently are underway to transfer the students and their dependents to other countries, including Britain and the United States.

The Islamic Kingdom made the decision in retaliation to a Global Affairs Canada's tweet that expressed concerns about the arrests of civil society and women's rights activists in the country, such as Samar Badawi.

Trade between Canada and Saudi Arabia exceeded $4-billion (€ 3.4 billion) previous year, a significant portion of it came from a controversial multibillion-dollar deal to sell combat vehicles equipped with machine guns and cannons to the Saudis, according to The Globe and Mail.

There are roughly 60 Saudi students enrolled at Concordia University, but officials said they can't comment until more details are available.

The European Commission also struck a neutral tone in its response, saying it is seeking clarification about the arrest of activists, but avoided being drawn into the dispute between Riyadh and Canada.

"Saudi Arabia is shooting itself in the foot". She is a Canadian citizen whose brother, Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the government, was already in jail in the Saudi kingdom.

Saudi Arabia retaliated Monday by expelling the Canadian ambassador and froze new business with Ottawa as a sign of the kingdom's newly aggressive foreign policy.

Along with throwing out the Canadian ambassador and suspending air service between the two countries, Saudi Arabia is demanding thousands of its students leave Canada for new locations.

She added: "Let me be very clear: Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women's rights are human rights".

Besides having immediate effects on global relations and students on exchange between the two countries, the Canada-Saudi tension could mean some serious economic problems for Canada.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beirut says the surprise expulsion of the Canadian ambassador highlights the increasingly aggressive - and at times erratic - foreign policy being pursued by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

"We have raised (the issue) with the government of Saudi Arabia", Heather Nauert said speaking to reporters in Washington.

"We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists", the tweet said, according to CBC/Radio Canada.

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