Saudi education ministry: Plan already in action to transfer students from Canada

Analysis
              
                
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Analysis Screenshot

Saudi Arabia responded to the criticism with an array of sanctions that included suspending flights to Canada, expelling the Canadian ambassador, freezing all business between the two countries and terminating its student exchange program.

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.

Canada on Monday refused to back down in its defense of human rights after Saudi Arabia froze new trade and investment and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa's call to free arrested Saudi civil society activists.

Additionally, according to Reuters, Bahrain said on Monday it stood with Saudi Arabia in a political row with Canada, rejecting what it called Ottawa's interference in Riyadh's internal affairs. Canadian exports to Saudi Arabia totaled about $1.12 billion in 2017, or 0.2 percent of the total value of Canadian exports.

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The Twitter account belonging to infographic_KSA, who describe themselves as "a voluntary non-profit project managed by a group of Saudi youth who are interested in technology and social media", but widely seen as a pro- Saudi government, initially posted the threatening photo with the words: "Sticking one's nose where it doesn't belong!"

"We consider the Canadian ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia persona non grata and order him to leave within the next 24 hours", Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.

Canada last week said it was "gravely concerned" over a new wave of arrests, including award-winning gender rights activist Samar Badawi, pictured left.

Prince Mohammed, heir to the region's most powerful throne, has introduced a string of reforms such as lifting a decades-long ban on women drivers in a bid to overhaul the kingdom's austere image.

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"Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi's sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia".

Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar has been granted asylum by Canada, where she is raising their three children.

Amnesty International said the response to Canada showed that it was important Western countries not be intimidated into silence over Riyadh's treatment of dissenters.

In the fist comments by Washington since the dispute erupted, a U.S. State Department official said the United States had asked Riyadh for details on the detention of activists.

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"So neither Saudi nor Canada are going to be affected much by stopping the wheat and barley trade".

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