What Saudi Arabia's sanctions on Canada is really about

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The news agency has noted that in 2014, the Canadian unit of US weapons maker General Dynamics Corp won a contract worth up to $13 billion to build light-armored vehicles for Saudi Arabia, in what Ottawa said was the largest advanced manufacturing export win in Canadian history.

Riyadh said that amounted to "blatant interference in the Kingdom's domestic affairs, against basic worldwide norms and all global protocols".

The airline now operates at least two routes flying out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport - one to the Saudi capital city of Riyadh, the other to the city of Jeddah. Saudi Arabia said Monday it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its envoy while freezing all new trade, in retaliation for Ottawa's vigorous calls for the release of jailed activists.

Egypt saw crucial U.S. military aid frozen past year over its own human rights record amid one of its toughest ever crackdowns on dissent, but that decision was reversed last month.

In Saskatchewan, another university official also mentioned the four-week deadline that more than 150 Saudi students at the University of Regina are facing.

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The issue that led to this diplomatic impasse involves Saudi police arresting human-rights activist Samar Badawi and others last week.

On Monday, Saudi's foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to Canada for consultations and declared the Canadian ambassador persona non grata, giving him 24 hours to leave.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has stopped all the scholarship, training and fellowship programs to Canada.

A local Saudi student's association had even less to say, replying via Facebook message that its members are willing to transfer to the United States.

"Both sides need to diplomatically solve this together".

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According to The Globe and Mail, citing a Saudi government source, more than 15,000 Saudis are studying in Canada on government funded courses or grants at universities, colleges, and other institutions. Samar's brother, Raif Badawi, is a blogger who was arrested in 2012 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticizing the Saudi clerics, for which he was convicted of "insulting Islam". "We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws", Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted Monday.

Vice Provost Patti McDougall said in an interview Tuesday only nine students from the kingdom are registered for classes in 2018-19, but they suspect the number who were planning to return was much higher. "It's up for the government of Saudi Arabia and the Canadians to work this out", she said on Tuesday.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert avoided taking a side in the dispute.

The feud between the two countries has escalated quickly since it began Friday, when Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs raised concerns about the kingdom's human-rights record.

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