Row with Riyadh: No show of support for Ottawa?
The diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada seems likely to escalate. Riyadh has instructed all Saudi students and patients to leave Canada. The crisis was triggered by a tweet by Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland in which she called for civil rights activist Samar Badawi to be freed. Commentators criticise Europe for not supporting Ottawa in the row.
No sign of solidarity tweet for Canada
De Volkskrant complains about the lack of solidarity from the West:
“Western countries rely on the Saudis as key suppliers of oil, and that dampens their public outrage [over human rights abuses]. ... But there was never any mention of an obligation to secrecy, and that is what the crown prince clearly wants to enforce with this attempt to intimidate the authorities in Ottawa. They remain polite, patient and firm. But what about the others? US President Trump even criticised the Canadian prime minister and no longer makes any mention of human rights, which could also explain the crown prince's behaviour. And the European capitals remain silent. Is that it when it comes to Western solidarity? Or can someone quickly write a tweet to show solidarity with Canada?”
Saudi Arabia is completely unpredictable
The West must put its weight behind Canada, Helsingin Sanomat chimes in:
“This is not the first time the Saudis have reacted like this, but this time the magnitude is characteristic of Crown Prince Salman's approach. The idea is to warn other countries against any form of criticism of Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless the underlying message is that Saudi Arabia is an unpredictable trading and business partner. That is hardly in the crown prince's interest. Saudi Arabia is not going to modernise overnight, but it's in everyone's interest that Canada should receive firm and peaceful support in this conflict from the other Western states.”