Saudi Arabia's diplomatic dispute with Canada: An explainer

Saudi Press Agency

Saudi Press Agency

The Canadian government is sympathetic towards the PA.

Riyadh accused Ottawa on Tuesday of interfering in its internal affairs.

A Saudi Arabian youth group is apologizing after an image it posted on its Twitter account was interpreted by many social media users as a veiled threat of 9/11-style attacks on Canada following the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Ottawa and Riyadh.

On the diplomatic spat, Kocijancic said "we don't comment on bilateral relations".

Badawi is one of the most high-profile women's rights activists in Saudia Arabia, a country governed by a strict interpretation of Sunni Islam that limits the roles women can play in society.

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.

State-run television has reported that Riyadh will stop training, scholarship and fellowship programs in Canada - a move that will apparently affect the scholarships of more than 15,000 students attending university in Canada.

European traders said the main Saudi wheat-buying agency had told grains exporters it will no longer accept Canadian-origin wheat and barley.

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

Also on Tuesday, the gulf between Ottawa and Saudi Arabia widened to encompass travel as the Middle Eastern country's state airline announced it was suspending operations in Canada.

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Saudi Airlines issued a tweet early Tuesday saying flights to and from Canada would be suspended starting August 13.

It insisted the activists were being detained lawfully and that the Canadian statements represented "blatant interference in the kingdom's domestic affairs" and "a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom's laws and judicial process".

Crown Prince Mohammed, as heir to the throne, is in line to become the first Saudi king from a new generation after a succession of six brothers dating to 1953. But his reforms include no changes that would liberalize a political system that allows no public dissent.

Reid said there are several factors playing in the agreement's favour: the Saudis would have to pay penalties if they walk away from the deal, a pullout could hurt the country's reputation with other worldwide trading partners and, perhaps most importantly, Riyadh wants the model of armoured vehicle that's produced in London.

Freeland said it would be a shame if Saudi students are deprived of their right to study in Canada and said they continue to be welcome.

A number of countries in the region have defended Saudi Arabia.

Last year, Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia were nearly $1.5 billion, while imports from the Middle Eastern country were about $2.6 billion.

"This year could have been a year where we could have seen some (Canadian) barley trade there in October-November", said Jerry Klassen, manager at trading house GAP SA Grains and Products in Winnipeg. In 2014, the Canadian unit of US weapons maker General Dynamics Corp (GD.N) won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

Saudi Arabia's main state wheat buying agency has told grains exporters it will no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley in its global tenders, European traders said on Tuesday, as a diplomatic dispute between the two countries escalates.

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