Arab Saudi and Canada Reconcile, Restoring Diplomatic Relations
|Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (right). (DW INDONESIA)
In a significant development, Arab Saudi and Canada have announced the restoration of their diplomatic relations based on mutual respect and shared interests. This comes after a period of strained relations resulting from the detention of several activists by Riyadh. The decision to mend ties was made following discussions between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in November 2022, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in Bangkok.
Restoring Diplomatic Relations: A Milestone Achievement
Arab Saudi severed its diplomatic ties with Canada in August 2018 after Ottawa called on the Kingdom to release human rights activists. However, both countries have now released nearly identical statements, declaring the restoration of diplomatic relations to their previous level. Canada has also appointed Jean-Philippe Linteau as its ambassador to Riyadh. According to Reuters, a Canadian official familiar with the agreement stated that trade sanctions would be lifted as a result of this agreement.
The source added, "Strained relations will not serve our future interests, and they will not impose matters such as human rights." The source further emphasized that Saudi Arabia has played a key role in the international arena in recent years. This recognition stems from the Kingdom's involvement in evacuating Canadian citizens from Sudan in April, a time when many countries struggled to rescue their citizens from the war-torn region. The official also cited Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly's statement, "We need to engage with those we disagree with on various issues to find collective solutions to global problems," as reported by Reuters.
Causes of Strained Relations
The rift between the two countries originated in August 2018 when Saudi Arabia took offense to a tweet from the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Ambassador, urging the release of activists advocating for women's rights. In response, Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador and imposed trade freezes. The Saudi Kingdom, which only recently allowed women to drive in 2018, characterized Canada's statements as "blatant interference" in its domestic affairs. Furthermore, the Kingdom faced international backlash later that same year due to the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. While five suspects received sentences in 2020, the Saudi Crown Prince, who was alleged to be involved, vehemently denied any involvement.
The reconciliation between Arab Saudi and Canada marks a significant milestone in their diplomatic relations. By prioritizing mutual respect and shared interests, both countries have taken a crucial step towards fostering better understanding and cooperation. This development opens doors for dialogue and collaboration on global challenges. The restoration of diplomatic ties between these nations serves as a reminder of the importance of diplomacy in resolving conflicts and finding common ground for the betterment of the world.