Canada Learns That No One Wins a Twitter Fight
Saudi Arabia’s response to criticism may seem out of proportion, but that’s social media for you.
In an age when foreign policy is conducted increasingly by social media, Saudi Arabia’s reaction to a pair of Canadian tweets is a reminder that diplomacy by Twitter comes with a few risks.
The tweets, from Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and via her ministry’s main Twitter account, expressed concern over the latest arrests of social activists in Riyadh. In response, Saudi Arabia suspended diplomatic ties and new trade dealings with Canada, ordered the expulsion of Canada’s ambassador to Riyadh, and recalled its own envoy from Ottawa. The Saudi foreign ministry’s explanation for these measures is that the Canadian criticism was “an affront to the kingdom that requires a sharp response to prevent any party from attempting to meddle with Saudi sovereignty.”
This is hard to credit. Riyadh’s human-rights record routinely attracts criticism — which the authorities brush off just as routinely. Only last week the United Nations human-rights office said it was alarmed about the “seemingly arbitrary detentions” of activists, and called for their unconditional release. This was not met with anything like the fury evoked by the Canadian tweets.
One explanation for the selective Saudi outrage is Freeland’s high profile. Another is the prominence of the female activist named in the two tweets: Samar Badawi, one of the kingdom’s best known activists, and winner of the U.S. State Department’s 2012 International Women of Courage award. She is also the sister of Saudi Arabia’s most famous political dissident, Raif Badawi, who has been in jail since 2012. Freeland herself has appealed for Raif Badawi’s release (his wife and three children are Canadian citizens), only to be told that Canada should mind its own business. – Bloomberg
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Did Freeland not learn anything from Trump? Or maybe she did. Trump Tweets constantly and his popularity continues to grow.
and then there is this…
Lakehead waiting on further instruction as Saudi students face deportationThe Saudi Arabian government has called for 15,000 students to be relocated from Canadian universities to countries with similar education systems. It would impact roughly 100 students enrolled at Lakehead University.
Lakehead University is taking the “wait-and-see” approach for students who are facing deportation at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government.
Foreign relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia have grown hostile after the Canadian government condemned the arrest of two women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi government responded, among other measures, by ordering approximately 15,000 Saudi students studying in Canada to be relocated to another country.
Roughly 100 students enrolled in Lakehead’s fall semester are from Saudi Arabia.
Lakehead’s international vice provost James Aldridge says the university isn’t taking any firm action as of now. – Tbnewswatch
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add to this the U.S. and Mexico holding NAFTA talks without Canada and you are starting to see a pattern here.
The U.S. NAFTA negotiator does not like Freeland. Could that be linked to all the other stuff? Hmm…
Is Canada’s trade relationship with the U.S. on the way out? Does the U.S. need Canada if it makes deals with the EU and Mexico? Maybe not.