The Saudi Arabian Affair
It was only two months ago in June that we found out Saudi Arabia had begun to move forward in the process required to lift its driving ban, enabling women to drive. This was seen as one of the many more-progressive achievements by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who, since assuming power, has taken on quite a technocratic role by encouraging innovation in the Kingdom. Examples of this include the Future Investment Summit in Riyadh back on October 25 in 2017, with the first AI robot being granted Saudi Citizenship and the 500 billion dollar megacity known as NEOM, which will connect to Jordan and Egypt, and which could be compared as a “Dubai of Saudi Arabia”. In short, Saudi Arabia is trying to maintain what traditions it needs to maintain cohesion while adapting to the future. Just like the UAE, Saudi Arabia has come to prove that more traditional and authoritarian political systems are not excluded from innovation and rapid development, but I digress.
Canada has not been exempt throughout the process of modernization that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is going through. It was only in March that we followed through on a 15 billion dollar arms deal with the Saudis, which involved the sale of military equipment, military supplies, and even military training offered by the Canadian government. It is worth noting that while the Conservatives signed the deal back in February of 2014, Trudeau has only encouraged that it be followed through on. To anyone with a sense of foreign policy, this should tell you where “Progressive” Canada (And the West’s) allegiances lie, that is, with the more radically traditional Saudi Arabia. Interestingly enough, despite this, both Canada and the US (who have been selling arms Saudi Arabia) have also been selling arms to Qatar and providing aid to Yemen, both of whom Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a conflict with.
With all that being said and with the arms deal with Saudi Arabia done (with the exclusion of the provision of training), things are now starting to take a turn in diplomatic relations for the worst. Just this week, following a woman’s rights protest being violently suppressed, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her department tweeted out the following:
Similar to what happened with Sweden in 2015, where Foreign Minister Margot Wallström refused to apologize for referring to lashings as a “medieval punishment”; or what happened with Germany in 2017, where Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel accused the Saudi’s of kidnapping the Lebanese president (something that the Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil agrees with)–– Canada can now be lumped in with these other countries who have embraced progressivism to a point where it conflicts with the traditions of both European descendants and non-European descendants.
In response to Freeland’s tweets, the Saudi Arabian government sent out the following image (depicting a plane headed towards the CN tower, which parallels what happened to the Twin Towers in the US).
Furthermore, as retaliation for the tweet, Saudi Arabia has:
- Expelled the Canadian ambassador in Saudi Arabia
- Recalled the Saudi ambassador in Canada
- Suspended flights to Canada
- Halted trade with and investment in/from Canada
- Terminated student exchange
In addition to this, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir has urged for Canada to “fix its mistake”, claiming that the Saudi government is considering “additional measures” against Canada, without specifying what exactly these entail.
It seems as though Russia, Egypt, the UAE, Jordan, Pakistan, Bahrain, and Palestine have gotten behind Saudi Arabia in this matter, echoing the sentiment that it is inappropriate for Progressive Canada to impose its standard of political correctness onto other countries. The fact that most of these countries are majority Arab countries should tell you something about the contrast and conflict between the values of Canadians and the values of Muslims in the Middle East. Just like the protests throughout the Middle East over the US embassy being moved to Jerusalem, this should also serve as an example of the extent to which the Muslim and Arabic world (both Sunni and Shia) is willing to unify against Western powers.
It is true that there are human rights and women’s rights issues in the Middle East, and in that respect, Canada’s criticism isn’t entirely out of place. But what needs to be considered is that Canada is issuing this criticism in light of things like the driving ban being lifted. Given the Crown Prince’s new direction and more-progressive tendencies, Canada shouldn’t be applying as much pressure. The real issue that the Saudi Arabian government had wasn’t so much with granting women rights more than the way these women were protesting for rights and subverting a regime making progress in an already tense and unstable part of the world.
With that being said, one should be wary when they hear liberals or conservatives supporting protests, riots, or revolutions in the middle east. Afghanistan used to have a progressive monarchy under Mohammed Zahir Shah, but due to the funding of revolutionaries and the invasion of the state-atheist Soviet Union, there was an increase in radical extremism, giving rise to the Taliban.
It is by way of usurping strong men and subverting strong religions that subversive elites can spread the chaos we see in the West. In this age in the West, it is very easy to condemn theocracies and patriarchies, but there is something to be said for countries like Saudi Arabia, where there is a strong state-enforced religion that is maintained by the strong men of the state. Ironically enough, countries like Iran can be praised on the same grounds. If Canada can be faulted for anything when it comes to women’s rights, perhaps we can be faulted for not keeping our women pure, protected, and innocent.
Saudi Arabia isn’t the only country that Canada has annoyed with its standards on political correctness. Recently the Indian government condemned Trudeau for his associated with a Sikh extremist that killed an Indian politician. Furthermore, both Harper and Trudeau have furthered tensions with Russia and China with human rights-related issues, and just like the Philippines recently cut off an arms deal with Canada over human rights, now Saudi Arabia is cutting of their diplomatic relations. In light of the trade war that we are facing with Trump, it seems as though Canada is alone and without friends on the world stage. As if this isn’t bad enough, to make matters worse, we stand alone and we are too weak to stand strong.
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