Canada Quietly ‘Begging’ for Help in its Dispute with Saudi
Canada is quietly ‘begging’ allies including Germany and Sweden for help with resolving its dust-up with Saudi Arabia, a government source confirmed Thursday.
The senior official said Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland had spoken with her counterparts in the 2 European nations.
Germany and Sweden previously were targets of Saudi backlashes for calling out the Kingdom over human rights abuses.
Ms. Freeland sought to understand how they resolved those disputes, and asked for their support, the official said. Ottawa also planned to reach out to regional heavyweight the UAE and UK, which has strong historical ties to Saudi Arabia.
Women’s rights advocates, charitable organizations, and civil rights groups, meanwhile, urged the international community “to join Canada in calling for the unequivocal respect of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”
They also called for Riyadh to “immediately release” women activists in detention, and commended Ms. Freeland “for her uncompromising stand for human rights, and for her bold leadership in walking the talk on women’s rights globally.”
Tensions have been high since Monday, when Riyadh expelled Canada’s Ambassador, recalled its own envoy and froze all new trade and investments after Ottawa denounced a crackdown on rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stood firm, saying: “Canada will always speak strongly and clearly in private and in public on questions of human rights … at home and abroad, wherever we see the need.”
“Canadians expect that, and indeed people around the world expect that leadership from Canada,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau noted that Ms. Freeland had “a long conversation” Tuesday with her counterpart Adel al-Jubeir to try to resolve the dispute.
“Diplomatic talks continue,” he said.
Canada has been disappointed that Western powers including the United States, a Key ally of Saudi Arabia did not publicly support Ottawa.
“Both sides need to diplomatically resolve this together. We can’t do it for them. They need to resolve it together,” a US State Department spokeswoman said Wednesday.
In March 2015, Saudi Arabia recalled its Ambassador from Stockholm over criticism by the Swedish foreign minister of Riyadh’s human rights record.
Earlier this year Saudi Arabia is scaling back its dealings with some German companies due a diplomatic dust-up with Berlin.
That move came after Germany’s FM last November remarked that Lebanon was a “pawn” of Saudi Arabia after the surprise resignation of its Prime Minister Saad Hariri while in Riyadh.
There is an Arabic Proverb that says, “He who interferes with what does not concern him finds what does not please him”