Canada to ask UAE, UK to help cool Saudi dispute

09 August, 2018, 21:21 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • Saudi Arabia Went Nuts And Just Had To Delete This 9/11-Esque Tweet

Saudi Arabia is by far the largest source of worldwide medical residents and fellows training in Canadian hospitals, the result of a decades-old visa program under which the kingdom pays approximately $100,000 a year for each trainee it sends to Canadian medical schools.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador from Stockholm over criticism of Riyadh's human rights record by the Swedish foreign minister.

In an interview, Dr. Spadafora, who oversees the training of all U of T residents and fellows, including 216 from Saudi Arabia, said his first priority is helping the Saudi trainees whose careers have been thrown into turmoil by the kingdom's announcement.

Hemant Shah, a hepatologist at UHN, said a Saudi fellow he worked with Tuesday was upset at the prospect of leaving his Canadian placement.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's main wheat buyer, Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO) said in an email sent to Canadian shippers it had halted all purchases of Canadian milling wheat and feed barley.

Besides expelling Canada's ambassador, Saudi Arabia says it's freezing all new trade and investment transactions with Canada and ordering the return 18,000 Saudi students in Canada, including 131 attending Western University.

A representative with Canada's ministry of global affairs did not immediately have a comment.

On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al Jubeir said there's nothing to mediate in its dispute with Canada and that "Canada knows what it needs to do".

The agency cited Saudi Health Attaché in the United States of America and Canada Dr Fahd Ibrahim Al Tamimi.

Saudi Arabia's moves this week to sever diplomatic ties with Canada underscore the kingdom's newly combative foreign policy, which analysts say is aimed at taming global criticism, and follows a crackdown on domestic critics as it struggles to implement risky reforms.

"Should we have to replace them, it would be like if 86 people suddenly called in sick", Dr. Hodges said.

A Twitter message calling on Riyadh to "immediately release" his sister, Samar Badawi, and other women's rights activists appears to have tipped the scale.

In addition to the diplomatic rupture, Saudi Arabia also suspended scholarships for more than 15,000 Saudi students in Canada with plans to relocate them to other countries, and the state airline Saudia suspended flights to Toronto.


The Saudis have also threatened to exclude Canadian companies from participation in the lucrative Vision 2030 programme, where the kingdom is spending hundreds of billions of dollars to modernise its economy.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department offered a tepid response to the sanctions that took pains to avoid taking sides, saying it is "aware" of Saudi Arabia's actions and considers both countries to be "close partners" of the United States.

Pike said firm details and direction is anticipated to come from the Ottawa-based Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau.

And earlier this year, media reports indicated that Saudi Arabia was scaling back its dealings with some German companies amid a diplomatic spat with Berlin.

Saudi Aramco, the kingdom's state-owned oil company and the world's largest crude producer, shipped 136,321 barrels of oil per day to Canada in June, the last month for which Statistics Canada oil import data is available.

The city's General Dynamics Land Systems plant has been supplying light armoured vehicles to Saudi security forces, thanks to a huge, $15-billion contract signed by the federal government in 2014.

Riyadh accuses Ottawa of meddling Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

One well placed source said the Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - which stresses the importance of human rights - planned to reach out to the United Arab Emirates. The US and the British government on Tuesday urged the two nations to show restraint.

The office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland did not respond to requests for comment.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also said on Monday that he rejects Canadian interference in "internal Saudi affairs".

Reid said it's "wrong" to stay silent about human rights issues, adding "we have an obligation to speak out" and he applauds Ottawa for doing so.

Among the arrested activists is Samar Badawi, whose writer brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for insulting Islam while blogging.

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