Author Topic: Saudi Arabia expels Canadian ambassador for urging release of activists  (Read 15549 times)

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Offline Infanteer

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So what is meaningful?  A letter?
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Maybe we should stop calling it a tweet, and just call it a statement.  Ignore the means of delivery.

People should be concerned about the content.

Canada proposed the Saudi government do something immediately.  For the government to comply would be to hand ammunition to all of its enemies to start generating propaganda (lackeys of foreign infidels, etc).  Prisoners could have been scheduled for imminent release this week and the government might now think it has to delay 6 months to demonstrate independence.  To some, the statement might look like an arrogant demand.

And obviously the Canadian government either has a very poor read on the KSA internal political situation (I can't credit that the statement would have been issued if there had been some foreknowledge of the likely blowback), or the people responsible for drafting and issuing the statement failed to consult those who might.

So, a least a means of delivery offering a longer character limit for nuance is recommended.
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So what is meaningful?  A letter?

Sure. Anything that's not from the Donald Trump school of international diplomacy.

Offline garb811

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Given the continued inability of users to abide by the rules despite two warnings in this thread, this is locked for a 24 hour cool down.

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Offline tomahawk6

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Sweden or Germany may not want to get involved most likely the PM will need to ask Trump. A good mission for Kushner who has been there a few times.


https://www.yahoo.com/news/canada-asks-help-saudi-dispute-175948008.html

Offline garb811

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Reopened.  Keep it within the rules.

Offline Til.Valhall

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I'm not quite sure why there's a big panic to make amends with the leadership of Saudi Arabia.

It's an extremely spoiled country that relies on western technology and expertise to make ends meet.

I'm still suffering the effects of their greed driven strategy of crashing the oil market in 2015-6, which caused a recession here in Canada.  A stupid strategy that backfired on them.

I find it odd that some people think Canada should try to bolster relations with that pathetic country.  They are our competitors at best, not our friends. We do not need to brown-nose Saudi Arabia like the U.S has done for decades. What a waste of time and energy.

Offline Xylric

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A thought:

If the equivalent person in the United States made the tweets/comments that set off this situation, it's unlikely that Saudia Arabia would have responded the same way. That's not anything remarkable, and has been pretty much stated in numerous places. No, my thought is that it seems as though Saudi Arabia is using this matter as a distraction. I don't think that will work long-term.

Offline Thucydides

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A thought occurred to me that the extreme reaction of the Sudis has a lot to do with who Canada's government is funding here at home: the National Council of Canadian Muslims received $23 million in taxpayer funding. The NCCM is an offshoot (or perhaps renaming) of CAIR, which is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood and linked to other Islamic radical groups.

Given the fragile internal environment inside the Kingdom as the Crown Prince sets about reforms, having Canada suddenly weigh in on on internal issue, especially after pledging a lot of support for a group the KSA rightly suspects will attempt to induce turmoil during the reform process, would raise a lot of red flags in the Kingdom.

Whatever you might think of the Kingdom, they will work to advance their own interests, and given the current state of the Middle East and the alignment of the Sunni Kingdoms, Israel and the United States against Iran and her proxies, it makes a lot of sense to strike out at anyone who could destabilize this new alignment. It also explains the silence of the United States on this issue, and the fact that literally no one is stepping up to side with Canada-we made loud virtue signalling noises, but unlike normal virtue signalling where you expect no consequences, we intruded into an area where virtue signalling has very great consequences indeed.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Online Blackadder1916

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One of the more interesting takes on the reason for the over the top Saudi reaction was presented a few days ago on CBC's Power and Politics.  The commentator, Thomas Juneau (identified as a former Middle East analyst for DND, now a U of Ottawa asst. prof) opined that neither the content of the specific tweet nor the method of presenting the message mattered in the slightest.  His thesis is that when the Saudis made the deal for the LAVs back in 2014, they didn't particularly want or need that specific vehicle.  What they were actually purchasing was a greater relationship with Canada; they wanted us to be better friends and partners.  All was well and good, particularly while the Conservative government was still in power, but after the Liberals won the election things became more problematic.  Though the Liberals had no difficulty with continuing friendly relations with the Saudis, once the more vocal elements of its base began questioning the sale of  armoured vehicles, the Liberals were not wont to be complimentary towards the KSA.  Other than some mild rapprochement such as the tweet in question, it was minimal dealings.  Not what the Saudis thought they had bought and paid for (okay, they haven't paid for it yet).  The tweet in question was just a convenient and timely excuse to end any fiction of a relationship.

(My thoughts vice those of the above commentator)

There is probably some basis to the above.  As it stands now, one of the major "other shoes to drop" is whether the LAV deal will continue.  As I read numerous articles that refer to it a "Canadian" deal, I can't help but reflect that the company that makes and sells those vehicles is not a Canadian company.  The factory may be in Canada and nominally it may be owned by a "Canadian" subsidiary, but it is a US multinational and multi-divisional company.  If the deal shits the bed, it won't be the Canadian government being able to sue for losses, nor, if a suit was successful would Canadian workers be the beneficiaries of a settlement.  Should the Saudis still want an armoured vehicle comparable to the LAV, there are similar vehicles made by other divisions of GDLS in other countries.

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Offline Thucydides

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I'm pretty sure LAV production could be shifted to the GDLS facility in Alabama, if that eventuality ever arises. However, I am hearing about other potential losses not so easily made up. Apparently 60 Interns in the Hamilton medical system will be recalled to Saud Arabia, removing something like 20% of the Intern staffing. Perhaps more alarming is each intern also comes with $100,000 in funding, which puts a big hole in their finances was well as their staffing.

Now rinse and repeat across the Canadian medical system nation wide.....
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Colin P

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Further to Blackadders comments about relationships, KSA has been creating a vertical infrastructure to ensure that grains from Canada get to the country, that includes the old CWB (now G3) a new grain handling facility under construction in North Vancouver and I understand their own ships. It would make sense to have a food supply based in a stable country like Canada, one less thing they need to worry about, or so they thought.   

Offline FJAG

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I'm pretty sure LAV production could be shifted to the GDLS facility in Alabama, if that eventuality ever arises. However, I am hearing about other potential losses not so easily made up. Apparently 60 Interns in the Hamilton medical system will be recalled to Saud Arabia, removing something like 20% of the Intern staffing. Perhaps more alarming is each intern also comes with $100,000 in funding, which puts a big hole in their finances was well as their staffing.

Now rinse and repeat across the Canadian medical system nation wide.....

London Health Sciences Centre is losing 35 residents and 56 medical fellows: about 10%of LHSC's residents and fellows.

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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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I am sorry to be the bearer of a reality check.

95% of Sausi doctors studying in Canada at the resident/fellow level go back to Saudi Arabia or somewhere around there after they graduate. (BTW, what is this bull***t of "recalling" them? They are not the property of the Kingdom [except if you accept that the kingdom is an absolute monarchy that owns its people and they have to obey the king]).

They make up a reasonable percentage of the resident and fellow of Canada's major Universities with medical programs recognized worldwide - meaning really UBC, Queen's, U of T, Western, McGill and Dalhousie, where they make up about 10% of the student body.

Thing is, however, those universities programs are so well thought of around the world that they can actually replace those students at the drop of a hat.

What about the money? Well, it may drop each Universities revenue a couple of millions a year in tuition, but otherwise, it's no big deal. The GoC could make it up in flash.

So, please, don't try (anyone) to bull@@@t us with the Kingdom being important to Canada's medical system. It's a blatant lie.





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Thing is, however, those universities programs are so well thought of around the world that they can actually replace those students at the drop of a hat.

What about the money? Well, it may drop each Universities revenue a couple of millions a year in tuition, but otherwise, it's no big deal. The GoC could make it up in flash.

The drop of a hat in August, 3 weeks before the school year starts? Get real. We'd be getting the bottom third who don't have placements.

Also, a couple million dollars in tuition per year is a pretty big chunk of change.

I don't get how you can be so flippant with the situation, and not provide any sort of background information to back up your claims that this is "no big deal".

Online Blackadder1916

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95% of Sausi doctors studying in Canada at the resident/fellow level go back to Saudi Arabia or somewhere around there after they graduate. (BTW, what is this bull***t of "recalling" them? They are not the property of the Kingdom [except if you accept that the kingdom is an absolute monarchy that owns its people and they have to obey the king]).

The reason they go back to Saudi Arabia is because they are studying here in positions supernumerary to regular med school/residency/fellowship.  Just as we would expect someone whose education is subsidized under a program such as MOTP to do what we tell them, if these individuals have a contract that includes a return of service then when their "employer" (especially one that owns their passport) says come home, you go home.  Their positions were bought and paid for by the KSA and while the students/residents have to meet the same prerequisites as others attending a Canadian med school, they don't compete with Canadians for the slots.   It is likely that the terms of the contract that the Saudi government has with the med schools includes a clause making the continued attendance of the student contingent on them being contractually obligated to the KSA.  When the CF paid for supernumerary med school or residency slots for MOTP/MMTP that was part of the terms for continuing attendance at whatever school.

As for the rest, while it may sting a bit until the situation with fewer residents settle down, it won't cripple the Canadian medical system.  Most of the problems really only affect Ontario and Quebec.  They seem to have been the medical education destination for most Saudis and judging from the web pages of mostly Ontario based med schools, they are the ones that made it into a business.
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Offline Oldgateboatdriver

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The drop of a hat in August, 3 weeks before the school year starts? Get real. We'd be getting the bottom third who don't have placements.

School year is irrelevant to interns and fellows. Their "schooling" is over and they only work in hospitals until they apply for their MD exams at the professional level or their fellowship at the specialist level at that point. Those people (in such programs) can switch from one place to the other mid-way through their program , and do so on a frequent basis, so - yeah! it's no big deal and it doesn't mean getting "bottom thirds", which some (most??) Saudi doctors may already be anyway, but getting the job just because they bring money!  ;)


Also, a couple million dollars in tuition per year is a pretty big chunk of change.

A couple million dollars to those universities, raking in about 100-150 millions a year, is no big deal, and even less for the Federal government if it choses to compensate them - stop making this into  a "Canada is a weak economy relying on the Saudis" narrative that is completely false: We don't need Saudi Arabia , and their not spending a dime in Canada is not going to make any bloody difference in the end.
 

I don't get how you can be so flippant with the situation, and not provide any sort of background information to back up your claims that this is "no big deal".

You got the background above, but on top of that, I have three medical doctors in the family (with one a top surgeon in the USA) so I have at least a clue of how the medical system works (because I hear about it on a constant basis, unfortunately!).

Offline beirnini

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I can't really see how the actions of the current government have advanced our permanent interests.
As an ideally self-sovereign middle global power that is culturally averse to militarism Canada will always have a permanent interest in what is at least conceivably capable of leveling the playing field with bigger global powers. Like the freemen against King John in 1215 that something is due process and the rule of law, which is why they are enshrined in our charter and strongly implied in the CAF oath of allegiance.

It's bad enough to deride this as "virtue signalling", but to elevate the interests of the KSA over our own as some kind of rational realpolitiks-game just to score partisan points against our government is a little disgusting. Their permanent interest is in the maintenance of their monarchy. Our permanent interest is in the maintenance of ours and what it stands for, and our monarchy is absolutely nothing but a tourist attraction without habeas corpus, due process and the rule of law.
Quote
Even the comment upthread about the difference between Canada and the UnitedStates "twitter diplomacy" fails to take into account the Americans are using Twitter as battlespace preparation to advance their interests, and of course the Americans actually have the ability to follow through, with hard or soft power.
Yes, we all know the US has the "might to make right". They have the luxury of ignoring their ideals when they choose. Canada doesn't. Nobody expected this relatively innocuous and unoriginal tweet would be so contentious, but now that it has flared into a full-blown international incident I would've thought picking sides - at the very least in our own country - would have been easy. That terrorism-exporting KSA garners any sympathy around here is surprising and a little enraging.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 06:23:06 by beirnini »

Offline Thucydides

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Perhaps you need to re read my posts. The KSA is doing things to advance their interests, and they likely see Canada's actions in a sinister light because of the way the Liberal government has been consorting with a known arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. A competent government would never have wandered into that territory.

I did come across another alternative theory from one of my correspondents outside of the military community, who believes this was a deliberate ploy by the Liberals to distract the media from the state of the NAFTA talks. I am a bit dubious about that, since the second and third order effects are unpredictable, but there are lots of potential ways to examine the issue once you step back and look at the larger picture, and realize that other nations have agency and agendas which do not align with ours. The appearance of advancing the interests of the Muslim Brotherhoods, or disrupting the forming alignment of the Gulf States, Israel and the United States against Iran would look extremely different through the eyes of the KSA. The fact that no other nation has come on the side of Canada in this dispute serves to illustrate our lack of power or importance internationally, and that the causes of the dispute have no resonance with the national interests of other nations.

No, the Liberals stepped into this one on their own.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Colin P

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KSA is repugnant, but then so is the PRC, if the Liberals were consistent in their concerns I might believe they are taking the high road. Working for this government, I see that "virtue signaling" is one of their primary goals, particularly ones that increase their approval rating with selected classes of voters. Sending these concerns via normal diplomatic channels would not garner the same amount of virtue signaling points as using Twitter. Hence the reason that platform was used. The true recipients are Canadians not KSA. 

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It's bad enough to deride this as "virtue signalling", but to elevate the interests of the KSA over our own as some kind of rational realpolitiks-game just to score partisan points against our government is a little disgusting. Their permanent interest is in the maintenance of their monarchy. Our permanent interest is in the maintenance of ours and what it stands for, and our monarchy is absolutely nothing but a tourist attraction without habeas corpus, due process and the rule of law.

It's virtue signalling if the government will send angry words via Twitter to score political points, but when it comes to the hard business of cancelling a $15B CAD arms deal, the Liberal morale compass isn't worth that much. In fact, the Minister wouldn't even go on record a year ago in the HoC to state they were not happy with KSA being on the UN Women's Rights Commission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QeSTLe37sI

No one minds a principled position, if you're going to maintain that position at all costs. The fact that Liberals were not upset enough to cancel the arms deal, but for some reason needed to jump on Twitter to register outrage after being rebuffed numerous times through official channels that should make people wonder if the Trudeau Liberals actually hold the principles and values they claim to. I mean, 0 tolerance for sexual harassment (guilty before proven innocent) only applied to everyone below the Prime Minister, so why should we believe he's willing to make hard decisions that effect his polling numbers to stand up for those principles.

Offline Til.Valhall

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Nobody expected this relatively innocuous and unoriginal tweet would be so contentious, but now that it has flared into a full-blown international incident I would've thought picking sides - at the very least in our own country - would have been easy. That terrorism-exporting KSA garners any sympathy around here is surprising and a little enraging.

Yes, I could feel my stomach turning thinking about that.

I find it odd that some people want to dismiss this issue immediately as virtue signalling. The point of the message was about supporting Raif Badawi and his family. A man that is being violently punished for exercising free speech in his oppressive theocratic country.

I thought conservatives were for human liberty and freedom of speech?

I know that using twitter seems like a cheap shot and degrades the message, many times to the point of futility.
But then I remember how ridiculous some face to face political messages can become.
I still laugh about that time at the 2014 G20 meeting when Harper told Putin to "get out of Ukraine". I can just hear Putin snickering in Russian. And then nothing happens. It's about as disappointing as poking at an empty hornet's nest.

Sometimes, or most times on the political elementary school playground, the side that cries the least won the fight.

So far it seems Saudi Arabia is losing the fight by a tantrum and a half.




Offline Thucydides

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Please re read Puckchaser's post just above. No one here is expressing any sympathy for the KSA, but some of us are trying to discern their motives, and explain why the United States and the rest fo the Western world (and indeed everyone) is sitting quietly on the sidelines.

Longer term, Saudi Arabia will likely put together a large voting coalition in the UN to prevent Canada from gaining a security council seat when out comes up next, rubbing the Liberal's face in it (since this seemed to be one of their big foreign policy goals), and making the sacrifice of treasure and potentially blood in Mali irrelevant as well.

As for the term "Virtue Signalling", it is highly appropriate, since it refers to making statements when you have neither the inclination or means to back them up, and don't expect any consequences for making such a statement. It certainly backfired on the Government this time.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Fishbone Jones

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Yes, I could feel my stomach turning thinking about that.

I find it odd that some people want to dismiss this issue immediately as virtue signalling. The point of the message was about supporting Raif Badawi and his family. A man that is being violently punished for exercising free speech in his oppressive theocratic country.

I thought conservatives were for human liberty and freedom of speech?

I know that using twitter seems like a cheap shot and degrades the message, many times to the point of futility.
But then I remember how ridiculous some face to face political messages can become.
I still laugh about that time at the 2014 G20 meeting when Harper told Putin to "get out of Ukraine". I can just hear Putin snickering in Russian. And then nothing happens. It's about as disappointing as poking at an empty hornet's nest.

Sometimes, or most times on the political elementary school playground, the side that cries the least won the fight.

So far it seems Saudi Arabia is losing the fight by a tantrum and a half.

Except most news has us as the red headed stepchild of the international  community. The community that has told us were on our own, either with diplomatic double speak or with silent alienation of diplomatic ties. We aren't a going concern anymore The billions of precious tax dollars spent in the ME, for, hell, pick a reason and they are now against us. I think any thought of a UN seat or Nobel is out the window for the PM. In one innocuous tweet, we alienated the rest of the world.

Doesn't look like the Saud's lost that much ground. Take away med students, burden our system more, but keep selling us oil? They are making huge compromises to our economy. They are dictating terms like landowners. Gentry to the peasants.

No, I don't think they are losing the fight at all. The rest of the world doesn't like being lectured about how they treat women. How much they pay workers. How much inclusiveness they need to show and to who. Time and a place for everything. Using inept social media skills is not the time or place for this government to try and score some moral high ground.

I'm really, really hoping that this is just the world's way of giving our government a time out and a lesson on joining the big people table. If not, we could be in serious trouble.
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Offline Til.Valhall

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As for the term "Virtue Signalling", it is highly appropriate, since it refers to making statements when you have neither the inclination or means to back them up, and don't expect any consequences for making such a statement. It certainly backfired on the Government this time.

I think we already have plenty of terms and phrases used to describe making a statement without being able to back it up.

But using the term "virtue signalling" is more than that. In common usage, that term clearly voices at least some opposition to a given moral statement.