Northern universities and colleges worry for Saudi students

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada

Saudi Arabia expelling Canadian ambassador and suspending new trade with Canada Regina 980 CJME Canadian Press

Canada says it does not know what will happen to a $13 billion defense contract to sell Canadian-made General Dynamics Corp armored vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

"The students have been asked by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue their studies if they are now registered in the spring and summer session, but to deregister or cancel their registration for the fall of 2018 and to leave Canada within four weeks of the departure of the Canadian ambassador to Riyadh", said Livia Castellanos, the university's associate vice-president (international). She is a Canadian citizen whose brother, Raif Badawi, a blogger who was critical of the government, was already in jail in the Saudi kingdom.

The moves were a stern rebuke to Canada after the country on Friday expressed concern over the arrests of activists in Saudi Arabia, including prominent women's rights campaigner Samar Badawi, and called for their release.

"Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada's internal affairs", the ministry said. He has launched a campaign of social and economic change, but has not eased the absolute monarchy's total ban on political activism.

Just two months ago, Saudi women were given the right to drive a auto, yet several of the country's most prominent women's rights activists - including some who fought for years to drive - were arrested earlier this year on national security grounds.

Analysts say the dispute between Riyadh and Ottawa shows Saudi Arabia won't accept any outside criticism and will continue flexing its muscles overseas, especially as the kingdom enjoys a closer relationship with President Donald Trump.

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The United States said Tuesday that both Canada and Saudi Arabia are "close partners" of the USA, and asked the Saudi government for more information of the detention of several activists.

Her Saudi counterpart, Adel al-Jubeir, had earlier tweeted that Canada's position was based on "misleading information", adding that anyone arrested was "subject to Saudi laws that guarantee their rights".

The moves, carried on the official Saudi Press Agency, caught diplomats in Riyadh off guard.

This undated and unlocated image available on the Canadian Embassy in Saudi Arabia website on August 06, 2018 shows the Canadian Ambassador Dennis Horak official portrait.

"It would be a shame for those students if they are deprived of the opportunity to study here", Freeland told reporters.

Saudi neighbours Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have voiced solidarity with Riyadh, according to media reports.

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On Monday, Saudi state airline Saudia announced that it will start to suspended flights to and from Toronto as part of its freeze of ties with Canada.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a loose association of the six Gulf Arab countries, the Arab League and Palestine also supported Saudi policy.

Canada said it was seeking "clarity".

But given tightening global grain supplies due to weather problems in Russia, Europe and Australia, Canada might have been poised to win more Saudi barley business.

Riyadh has a record of responding robustly to Western criticism under Mohammed bin Salman. "But I would not deliver Canadian grains to Saudi Arabia now, even on previous contracts", the trader added. The Middle Eastern country has also frozen all trade and expelled Canada's ambassador over the "interference", the BBC reported on Monday.

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