Published: Fri, August 10, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Students Scramble For Info After Saudi Arabia Pulls Canadian Scholarships

Students Scramble For Info After Saudi Arabia Pulls Canadian Scholarships

Late last week, Canadian officials began publicly pressing the Kingdom to release women's rights activists from around Saudi Arabia, who've been swept up and jailed as Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, consolidates his power and cracks down on dissenters. They said Canada "plans to seek help from the United Arab Emirates and Britain" in easing tensions with Saudi Arabia.

The Financial Times, citing unidentified sources, reported that the Saudi central bank and state pension funds had instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of their Canadian equities, bonds and cash holdings "no matter the cost".

A spokesman said: "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...will not accept interference in its internal affairs or imposed diktats from any country".

Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, estimated the overall trade relationship between Canada and Saudi Arabia totals between $3 and $4 billion a year.

While department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said USA officials have raised human rights concerns with the Saudis in the past, she stressed that Riyadh and Ottawa "need to diplomatically resolve this together".

Ottawa has long refused to deepen ties with the Saudi government over the country's track record on human rights.

Triggered by Ottawa's comments expressing concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, the dispute shows no sign of end with the Kingdom announcing one action after another to escalate the row between the two United States allies.

Saudi investments in Canada include G3 Global Holdings Ltd., a joint venture between Bunge Ltd. and Saudi Agricultural & Livestock Investment Co., which purchased the former Canadian Wheat Board in 2015. "But I would not deliver Canadian grains to Saudi Arabia now, even on previous contracts", the trader added.

The first possible big hit Canada could suffer relates to the sale of light armored vehicles to the kingdom, worth CA$15 billion.

Nauert stopped short of criticizing the detention of rights activists in Saudi Arabia.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland issued a statement later in the day refusing to walk back Canada's stance. In response, Canada pledged to continue advocating human rights.

"After "disciplining" domestic critics through warnings & arrests (Saudi Arabia is) seeking to use economic leverage & diplomatic actions to discipline foreign critics as well", tweeted Kristin Diwan, of the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

It is Darling's understanding that only students sponsored by the Saudi Arabia government are being recalled.

Media captionSaudi Arabia's permanent representative to the United Nations confirmed the change in policy What has the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Canada been like in the past?

"We are waiting for Saudi Arabia to offer some more specifics on what they intend to do", Freeland said when asked about the arms deal.

Amnesty International said the response to Canada showed that it was important Western countries not be intimidated into silence over Riyadh's treatment of dissenters.

His wife, Ensaf Haidar, and three children were granted Canadian citizenship earlier this summer, and live in Quebec's Eastern Townships.

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