Airlines Enter Diplomatic Feud Between Saudi Arabia and Canada

Aug 7, 2018

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Diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and Canada have been worsening recently, after Canada called for the release of several Saudi women’s activists.

Now, the nations’ airlines are being brought into the feud, with Saudi’s state carrier suspending flights to Canada indefinitely.

The conflict intensified when Canada would not retract its statement regarding more than a dozen jailed high-profile women’s rights activists. “Let me be very clear. Canada will always stand up for human rights in Canada and around the world, and women’s rights are human rights,” Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

After Canada didn’t cave in to diplomatic pressure, Saudia, the state-run flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, announced on Monday night it would be suspending all flights to/from Toronto, Canada (YYZ), beginning August 13.

The feud took a bizarre and ominous turn Tuesday morning, when a verified Saudi Twitter account (that creates images for the Kingdom’s propaganda) tweeted a photo of an Air Canada plane seemingly poised to crash into Toronto’s CN Tower. The tweet, sent from the account @Infographic_KSA, also had a threatening message that in part read, “sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong!”

The foreboding tweet evoked the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001. (Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who executed 9/11 were Saudi citizens, although the nation has consistently denied any link to the attacks). It was published in English, French and Arabic, reports Albawaba, and it was deleted later on Tuesday morning.

Before the airlines became involved in the diplomatic feud, the Saudi ambassador to Canada had been recalled by the Kingdom over the weekend and the Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia was given 24 hours to leave the country, The Independent reports. Saudi officials also placed a ban on new trade with Canada.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia is removing its students studying in Canada as part of educational exchanges and will assign them to other countries.

Saudi Arabia recently lifted its long-held ban on women driving, but it simultaneously jailed the high-profile women’s activists.

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