The latest chapter in the ongoing Saudi-Canadian feud saga
Ever since Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland posted the now-infamous tweet calling for the release of Saudi female activists, the two countries have been locked in a flurry of controversy. The Kingdom barred the Canadian ambassador and his team from returning, and the Saudi ambassador was withdrawn.
Students were recalled, new investments were frozen, and the drama further escalates in a passive-aggressive manner, as Saudi piles on the pressure.
But there may be a small reprieve in the works.
Medical students can remain in Canada
Image: The Globe and Mail
State-sponsored Saudi students in Canada were given a deadline: return home by August 31. This date has been changed to September 22nd. The students, which according to a Saudi source for Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail number around 15000, were caught in a difficult position. They had very limited time to relinquish their lives in the country, scrambling to sell their belongings.
The Ummah Mosque and community center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, held two garage sales to help students sell their newly acquired assets. The abrupt decision by the Kingdom has left their lives in a whirlwind, as they attempt to acclimate to the sudden change in direction.
Yesterday, however, The Globe and Mail announced that about 1053 medical students will be permitted to stay to complete their studies.
Paul-Émile Cloutier, president and CEO of HealthCareCAN, which represents hospitals across the country, said in a statement paraphrased by The Globe and Mail: “Ordering the trainees out of Canada would have jeopardized their future careers and forced hospitals to look for ways to fill the gaps left by their sudden departure.”
Canada could drag Europe into the dispute
Currently, Canada is turning to Germany for support of their humanitarian stance. If Germany backs Canada’s position, however, the general situation could escalate – again, if Germany gets involved.
Perhaps the Trump administration could come in as a mediator because ever since President Trump took office, US-Saudi relations have been greater than ever before. But Trump has his own issues with Canada, involving NAFTA, where he is putting pressure on the country’s northern neighbor to abide by its trade conditions, dealing directly with Mexico for now.
Oil trade remains
In a perhaps ironic turn of events, it was announced earlier this month that oil exports to Canada will not cease. In a statement on August 9 by Saudi Minister of Energy Khalid Al-Falih, he revealed that Saudi Arabia has a “firm and long-standing policy” that petroleum supplies are not influenced by political considerations.
“The current diplomatic crisis between Saudi Arabia and Canada will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco’s relations with its customers in Canada,” Reuters reported him saying.