This latest development marks a swift, sudden deepening in the diplomatic rift between Canada and Saudi Arabia. It comes right after Canada criticized the Gulf nation’s human rights practices. The carrier currently operates services between Toronto and the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah.
Saudia, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, has revealed that it will be ceasing to operate its routes to and from Canada as of August 13th, CTV News reports. This sudden halting of flights is the latest development in the heightening of diplomatic tensions between the two nations, which began when the Canadian government criticized the Saudi government for detaining two female activists.
More specifically, the outlet quoted the recent tweet by the Canadian Global Affairs ministry, which read, “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists.”
The outlet reports that the Saudi Arabian government, however, appeared to be angered by the wording of Canada’s demands, especially its choice of the term “immediate release”. This turn of phrase, it said, was, “unfortunate, reprehensible, and unacceptable in relations between states.”
“Any other attempt to interfere with our internal affairs from Canada, means that we are allowed to interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” Saudi officials added.
In addition to halting trade with Canada and cutting its diplomatic ties with the nation, it appears that the Gulf country is now targeting air routes. It currently operates direct services from Toronto to the cities of Riyadh and Jeddah.
The carrier issued its decision to cut air links with Canada via Twitter on August 6th. The original tweet can be viewed here.
It has also added a statement to its website, which reads, “Saudi Airlines announces an immediate suspension of flights to Toronto, Canada starting from August 13, 2018. All tickets issued to and from Toronto, Canada, will be exempted from any restrictions or fees upon cancellation, reissue or refund.”