Why Is Saudi Arabia So Mad At Canada?
If you happened to blink in the past few days, you might be extremely confused about just what is happening between Canada and Saudi Arabia.
Dozens of conflicting reports are circulating about the dispute between the two countries. The Saudi government and state media have been deliberately ambiguous in their statements in an effort to confuse Canadian media and destablize the Canadian economy.
The rapid procession of events and purposeful miscommunication have made this dispute extremely difficult to navigate.
To help you out, here's a complete timeline of the conflict:
Friday August 3rd
Global Affairs Canada released a statement on Twitter criticizing human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, specifically as they relate to women's rights activist Samar Badawi.
Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.
Saudi officials immediately condemned the simple tweet as an infringement on the country's sovereignty and an attempt to interfere in domestic matters.
Saturday August 4th
Saudi state media unleashes a barrage of critiques of Canada on social media. Over the course of the day, the Tweets become more and more intense.
Sunday August 5th
Saudi Arabia escalates the dispute by ceasing diplomatic relations with Canada, including ejecting the Canadian ambassador, and stopping all new trade (except oil, Saudi Arabia's most valuable commodity).
Monday August 6th
Dozens if not hundreds of tweets from Saudi Arabian officials and citizens continue to criticize what the country perceives as Canada's intervention in private affairs.
Some tweets even verge on the ridiculous. In one message, the Saudi government offered what many considered veiled support for the separatist movement in Quebec.
In yet another tweet, a Saudi group posted an image of what appeared to be a potential 9/11-style attack in Toronto. Many sources debate whether that group is a wing of Saudi state media or a non-profit group meant to prop up the government. That tweet made international headlines before the agency responsible issued an apology. Canadians, however, were understandably disturbed.
Now deleted, here a screenshot of the threatening Saudi "infographic" featuring an airliner headed for the Toronto skyline. pic.twitter.com/LrkCLxxjFk
Tuesday August 7th
Saudi Arabia cancelled all flights to and from Canada on its government-run airline, disrupting the travel plans of hundreds of Haj pilgrims.
The Saudi government then flip-flopped several times about the status of its students in Canada. First it announced that it would cease all financial aid to Saudi students in Canada, effectively forcing them to return home.
Then the government announced that it was ordering its entire student population in Canada, including over ten thousand undergrad and thousands more medical students, to leave.
Now the status of those students is extremely unclear. Many have received orders to pack up and to refrain from speaking to news outlets. Because flights have been cancelled, they are also having a difficult time following those order.
Wednesday August 8th
Saudi Arabia orders all of its citizens currently seeking medical treatment in Canada to leave the country. Some will be relocated to other countries in Europe and North America. There's no telling yet just how this transfer will occur and what health effects it will have on patients with more serious medical issues.
The United States government under direction from the Trump administration refused to intervene on Canada's behalf. The American state department merely encouraged Canada and Saudi Arabia to work out their conflict on their own. This is the latest sign of the deteriorating relationship between Canada and the U.S.
Meanwhile, the Trudeau government reached out to officials in the United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates to mediate a solution to the dispute.
Then the Saudi government signalled that it would mandate a complete divestment from Canada. Then, suddenly, some sources announced this was already ongoing.
But while initial reports suggested they would require all citizens to sell their assets, Saudi officials specified that only the central state bank and pension funds would be affected.... For now, that is.
Saudi officials have hinted at even more sanctions including extreme measures but have not specified exactly what that could mean. Canadian officials are scrambling for more information. The divestment of the state bank and pensions funds will also have a negative impact on Saudi citizens.
While engaging in this war of words, the Saudi government executed and publicly crucified a man as if to dare Canada to respond. This time, Canada was notably silent about the human rights abuse.
Finally, the Saudi foreign ministry declared that the country has no intension of entering mediation until Canada issues a public apology for the first tweet from Global Affair Canada. If Canada is committed to human rights, that won't be anytime soon.
The situation is sure to change quickly with lots of conflicting reports so stay tuned.
Since when did a Twitter fight have international implications?