Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday August 10, 2018
Here’s why Canadian allies are keeping their mouths shut in dispute with Saudi Arabia
As Saudi Arabia continues to volley fresh restrictions against Canada, there’s notable silence from one key group of voices — Canada’s allies.
Since the Middle Eastern kingdom launched the dispute on Sunday evening over tweets sent the week prior, Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador, expelled Canada’s ambassador, frozen new business and trade, ordered Saudi students studying in Canada to go somewhere else, ordered Saudi citizens seeking medical care in Canada to go somewhere else, blacklisted Canadian wheat and barley, and ordered the asset managers of their central bank and pension funds to dump Canadian assets “no matter the cost.”
And among it all, the only response from Canada’s two closest allies — the U.S. and U.K. — has been to call both sides close partners and urge restraint.
So why the silence?
Like so many things in politics, it all boils down to the money, said one expert.
“There is an attempt by the Saudis to create some fear and rattle some of those Western governments into not supporting Canada because they may be cut out or shut out from some potential Saudi economic deals and the big boom that it’s undertaking,” said Bessma Momani, a professor at the University of Waterloo specializing in Saudi relations and a senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation.
“Saudi Arabia is the largest weapons purchaser in the world, so any company or country in the world that sells arms, as does Canada, is likely to be looking into how this is going to affect bilateral trade ties.”
The dispute stems from what Momani called the “brash” decision by Saudi Arabia to respond to criticism of its arrest of women’s rights activists with a campaign of retaliation meant to send a warning to more powerful Western countries.
And it has not gone unnoticed that the same countries Canada has fought with and died alongside over the last century are keeping their mouths shut rather than speak out against the attacks. (Source: Global News)