Category: Injustice on the Arabian Peninsula


August 19, 2020

BERLIN (AP) — Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Wednesday cautiously welcomed an agreement between its close ally the United Arab Emirates and Israel to establish full diplomatic ties and exchange embassies.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the deal, which also halted unilateral annexation by Israel of West Bank territory sought by the Palestinians, “could be viewed as positive.” But he refrained from outright backing the move, while saying that Saudi Arabia was open to establishing similar relations on condition that a peace agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians.

Prince Faisal’s remarks during a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas were the first public comment by Saudi Arabia on Thursday’s surprise announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that his administration helped broker the UAE-Israel agreement.

While Bahrain, Oman and Egypt issued official statements welcoming the agreement, the kingdom did not at the time and did not respond to requests for comment until Wednesday’s news conference in Berlin.

The UAE framed its agreement as a successful measure that halted Israeli plans to annex West Bank territory. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has said the suspension is only temporary.

The Palestinians have issued scathing statements saying the UAE undermined Arab consensus and described the move as a “betrayal of Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Palestinian cause.” Saudi Arabia, like other Arab Gulf states, has built quiet ties with Israel over the years, in part because of shared concerns over Iran and its policies in the region.

The kingdom, however, is home to Islam’s holiest site and has historically positioned itself as a defender of Islam and Muslims, a title that foes Turkey and Iran have also tried to claim. King Salman is also seen as a steadfast supporter of the Palestinians, but his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has expressed more willingness for the kingdom to engage with Israel.

“We are committed to the Arab Peace Plan and that is the best way forward to a settlement of the conflict and to normalization with Israel with all states,” the Saudi foreign minister told reporters in Berlin. “That said, any efforts that could promote peace in the region and that result in holding back the threat of annexation could be viewed as positive.”

Prince Faisal noted that the Arab Peace Initiative — sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002 — promises Israel full ties with Arab states if a peace settlement is reached with the Palestinians. Conditions for that, however, must be based on internationally recognized parameters, he said.

“Once that is achieved, then all things are possible,” Prince Faisal said. He reiterated the kingdom’s long-held public stance that a future Palestinian state should include east Jerusalem as its capital.

Batrawy reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

September 08, 2020

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Saudi court issued final verdicts on Monday in the case of slain Washington Post columnist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi after his son, who still resides in the kingdom, announced pardons that spared five of the convicted individuals from execution.

While the trial draws to its conclusion in Saudi Arabia, the case continues to cast a shadow over the international standing of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose associates have been sanctioned by the U.S. and the U.K. for their alleged involvement in the brutal killing, which took place inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

The Riyadh Criminal Court’s final verdicts were announced by Saudi Arabia’s state television, which aired few details about the eight Saudi nationals and did not name them. The court ordered a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for the five. Another individual received a 10-year sentence, and two others were ordered to serve seven years in prison.

A team of 15 Saudi agents had flown to Turkey to meet Khashoggi inside the consulate for his appointment on Oct. 2, 2018 to pick up documents that would allow him to marry his Turkish fiance, who waited outside. The team included a forensic doctor, intelligence and security officers, and individuals who worked directly for the crown prince’s office, according to Agnes Callamard, who investigated the killing for the United Nations.

Turkish officials allege Khashoggi was killed and then dismembered with a bone saw inside the consulate. His body has not been found. Turkey apparently had the consulate bugged and shared audio of the killing with the C.I.A., among others.

Western intelligence agencies, as well as the U.S. Congress, have said the crown prince bears ultimate responsibility for the killing and that an operation of this magnitude could not have happened without his knowledge.

The 35-year-old prince denies any knowledge of the operation and has condemned the killing. He continues to have the support of his father, King Salman, and remains popular among Saudi youth at home. He also maintains the support of President Donald Trump, who has defended U.S.-Saudi ties in the face of the international outcry over the slaying.

Saudi Arabia’s trial of the suspects has been widely criticized by rights groups and observers, who note that no senior officials nor anyone suspected of ordering the killing has been found guilty. The independence of the Riyadh Criminal Court has also been questioned.

Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur who investigated Khashoggi’s killing, told The Associated Press in a statement that the crown prince has remained “well protected against any kind of meaningful scrutiny in his country” and the high-level officials who organized the killing have walked free from the start.

“These verdicts cannot be allowed to whitewash what happened,” she said, calling on U.S. intelligence services to publicly release their assessments of the crown prince’s responsibility. “While formal justice in Saudi Arabia cannot be achieved, truth telling can.”

A small number of diplomats, including from Turkey, as well as members of Khashoggi’s family, were allowed to attend the initial trial. Independent media and the public were barred. Yasin Aktay, a senior member of Turkey’s ruling party and a friend of Khashoggi, criticized the final court rulings, saying those who ordered the killing remain free while several questions concerning the journalist’s death remain unanswered.

He also said there were questions as to whether those convicted in the killing are imprisoned. “According to what we have heard, those who were convicted are roaming freely and living in luxury,” he said. “The truth of the matter is this case should be tried in Turkey, not in Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia has tried 11 people in total, sentencing five to death in December and ordering three others to prison for covering up the crime. The crown prince’s senior advisors at the time of the killing, namely Saud al-Qahtani and intelligence officer Ahmed al-Asiri, were not found guilty.

The trial also concluded the killing was not premeditated. That paved the way for Salah Khashoggi, one of the slain writer’s sons, to months later announce that the family had forgiven the killers, which essentially allowed the five to be pardoned from execution in accordance with Islamic law.

Salah Khashoggi lives in Saudi Arabia and has received financial compensation from the royal court for his father’s killing. Saudi Arabia initially offered shifting accounts about Khashoggi’s disappearance, including claiming to have surveillance video showing him walking out of the consulate alive. As international pressure mounted because of Turkish leaks, the kingdom eventually settled on the explanation that he was killed by rogue officials in a brawl inside the consulate.

Prior to his killing, Khashoggi had been writing critically of Prince Mohammed in columns for the Washington Post at a time when the young heir to the throne was being widely hailed in the U.S. for pushing through social reforms and curtailing the power of religious conservatives.

Dozens of perceived critics of the prince remain in prison, including women’s rights activists, and face trial on national security charges. Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia for the U.S. just as Prince Mohammed was beginning to detain writers and critics in late 2017.

Other critics of the crown prince have said their security has been threatened following Khashoggi’s killing. In one instance, a former senior intelligence official who now resides in Canada claims in a U.S. lawsuit that Prince Mohammed sent a similar hit squad to track him down and kill him, but that they were stopped by Canadian border guards.

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey contributed.

August 24, 2020

The United Arab Emirates and Israel on Monday agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the health sector following an accord between the countries to normalize relations 10 days ago, UAE state news agency WAM said.

The health ministers of the two countries discussed cooperation on pharmaceuticals, medical research, and COVID-19 in a telephone call. A statement from Israel’s Health Ministry added that they agreed on “initial and immediate cooperation” in the health sector.

Israel and the UAE have agreed to normalize diplomatic ties and forge a broad new relationship under a US-sponsored deal, making the UAE the third Arab country to have formal diplomatic ties with Israel after Egypt and Jordan.

The two countries will each appoint representatives and set up business delegations, the Israeli health ministry said.

The countries will also work to create a student exchange program once the coronavirus pandemic conditions allow, it added.

Since the deal, the countries have signed a few agreements on technologies to fight the coronavirus. Several small-scale medical and defense collaborations were announced in the weeks preceding the normalization agreement.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200824-uae-israel-health-ministers-agree-to-enhance-cooperation-on-health/.

August 14, 2020

JERUSALEM (AP) — Iran and Turkey lashed out at their regional rival the United Arab Emirates on Friday over its decision to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel in a U.S.-brokered deal, accusing it of betraying the Palestinian cause.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” Turkey said the peoples of the region “will never forget and will never forgive this hypocritical behavior” by the UAE.

The UAE, which has never fought Israel and has quietly been improving ties for years, said the agreement put a hold on Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the occupied West Bank, which the Palestinians view as the heartland of their future state.

But the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the UAE had no authority to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the Palestinians or “to make concessions on matters vital to Palestine.” The agreement would make the UAE the first Gulf Arab state — and the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan — to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. The Palestinians say the deal amounts to “treason” and have called on Arab and Muslim countries to oppose it.

The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory for U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians. Trump has predicted that other countries in the region will follow the UAE’s lead.

Israel, the UAE and other Gulf countries that view Iran as a regional menace have been cultivating closer ties in recent years. Turkey has had diplomatic relations with Israel for decades, but under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned itself as a champion of the Palestinians. Turkey and the UAE support rival camps in the conflict in Libya.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas welcomed both the agreement and the decision to suspend annexation and called to congratulate his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi on “this historic step.” “We stand by our position that only a negotiated two-state solution can bring lasting peace to the Middle East,” Maas said in a statement. “Together with our European partners and the region we have campaigned intensively in past months against an annexation and for the resumption of direct negotiations. We are also ready to actively support such a process.”

Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran; Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and David Rising in Berlin contributed.

August 14, 2020

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned a historic deal establishing full diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, calling it a stab in the back to all Muslims, state TV reported Friday.

Iran, in the ministry statement, called the normalizing of ties between the two countries a dangerous, “shameful” measure and warned the UAE against Israel interfering in the “political equations” of the Persian Gulf region.

“The UAE government and other accompanying governments must accept responsibility for all the consequences of this action,” the statement said. In a deal brokered by the U.S., the UAE and Israel announced Thursday they agreed to establish full diplomatic ties and Israel will halt plans for annexation of occupied land sought by the Palestinians for their future state.

The agreement makes the UAE the first Gulf Arab state — and the third Arab country, after Egypt and Jordan — to have full diplomatic ties with Israel. They announced it in a joint statement, saying deals between Israel and the UAE were expected in the coming weeks in such areas as tourism, direct flights and embassies.

Iran said in the state TV report the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE revealed the “strategic stupidity” of the two countries and said it “will undoubtedly strengthen the axis of resistance in the region.”

The ministry statement called the deal a “dagger that was unjustly struck by the UAE in the backs of the Palestinian people and all Muslims.” The historic deal delivered a key foreign policy victory for U.S. President Donald Trump as he seeks re-election and reflected a changing Middle East in which shared concerns about archenemy Iran have largely overtaken traditional Arab support for the Palestinians.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the deal amounts to “treason,” and should be reversed. Hossein Amirabdollahian, advisor to Iran’s Parliament speaker, criticized the deal on his Twitter account on Friday.

“UAE’s new approach for normalizing ties w/fake, criminal #Israel doesn’t maintain peace & security, but serves ongoing Zionists’ crimes,” he said. Iran’s former chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard, Mohsen Rezaei, said in a tweet the UAE has been making itself “the paradise of Israel” for the last 10 years.

“No Muslim zealous warriors and no Arabs betray Palestine, only nerveless stabs from behind,” he said.

July 14, 2020

In a humiliating defeat for Saudi Arabia and its allies, the top UN court has ruled in a 16-1 decision in favor of Qatar over the ongoing dispute between Doha and its Gulf neighbors.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) dismissed, today, the appeal lodged by Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain against the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The aviation body had ruled two years ago that the air blockade imposed by the four countries was illegal.

The top UN court backed Qatar and unanimously “rejects the appeal” by the four blockading states against the decision by the world civil aviation body who ruled in favor of Doha over sovereign airspace, ICJ President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said.

ICAO ruled in 2018 that it had the jurisdiction to handle a dispute brought by Qatar, which accused its neighbors of violating international conventions that regulate the free passage of its passenger planes through foreign airspace.

Saudi and its allies rejected the verdict insisting that ICAO was not the right body to judge in the dispute and that its decision to do so was “manifestly flawed and in violation of fundamental principles of due process and the right to be heard.” They had asked the ICJ to declare the aviation body’s ruling “null and void and without effect”.

Welcoming the verdict an official Qatari press release said: “Since June 2017, the Blockading States have prohibited Qatar-registered aircraft from flying to or from their airports and overflying their national airspaces, in flagrant violation of international law. In two judgments released today, the ICJ rejected all three grounds of appeal raised by the Blockading States, finding that the ICAO has jurisdiction to hear Qatar’s claims. The ICAO Council will now resume its proceedings.”

Qatar’s Communication and Transport Minister added: “We welcome today’s decision by the ICJ that will see the Blockading States finally face justice for violating international aviation rules. We are confident that the ICAO will ultimately find these actions unlawful. This is the latest in a series of rulings that expose the Blockading Countries’ continued disregard for international law and due process. Step by step their arguments are being dismantled, and Qatar’s position vindicated.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200714-un-top-court-rules-qatar-blockade-is-illegal/.

JAN. 3, 2019

By Wade Sheridan

Jan. 3 (UPI) — Patriot Act host Hasan Minhaj has poked fun at Netflix for pulling an episode of the series from Saudi Arabia due to its content revolving around slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The streaming service announced they had removed the episode on Wednesday following a valid legal request from the Saudi government.

Minhaj is featured in the episode blaming Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for having Khashoggi — a Saudi citizen, U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist — killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. The CIA concluded in November that Salman ordered the killing.

“Clearly, the best way to stop people from watching something is to ban it, make it trend online, and then leave it up on YouTube,” Minhaj said on Twitter.

Minhaj’s comments refer to how the episode can still be accessed globally on YouTube.

Minaj also asked for donations to help the International Rescue Committee in Yemen. “Let’s not forget that the world’s largest humanitarian crisis is happening in Yemen right now. Please donate,” he said.

The IRC is asking for donations to help save lives in war-torn Yemen, stating that 22 million are in need of humanitarian aid.

Netflix launched Patriot Act in October. The talk show features Minhaj, a former star on The Daily Show, discussing politics and culture.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Link: https://www.upi.com/Entertainment_News/TV/2019/01/03/Hasan-Minhaj-jokes-about-Patriot-Act-episode-pulled-from-Saudi-Arabia/1501546519504/.

October 15, 2018

ISTANBUL (AP) — A team of investigators entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Monday for what Turkish officials called a joint inspection of the building where Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared nearly two weeks ago.

The team arrived by unmarked police cars at the consulate and said nothing to journalists waiting outside as they entered the building. Police then pushed back journalists from the front of the consulate, where they’ve been stationed for days, setting up a new cordon to keep them away.

The makeup of the investigative team that entered the diplomatic compound was not immediately clear. International concern continues to grow over the writer’s Oct. 2 disappearance. American lawmakers have threatened tough punitive action against the Saudis, and Germany, France and Britain have jointly called for a “credible investigation” into Khashoggi’s disappearance.

A Foreign Ministry official had earlier said the team would visit the diplomatic post Monday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations. Officials in Saudi Arabia did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team that flew into and out of Turkey on Oct. 2 killed and dismembered Khashoggi, who had written Washington Post columns critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The kingdom has called such allegations “baseless” but has not offered any evidence Khashoggi ever left the consulate.

Such a search would be an extraordinary development, as embassies and consulates under the Vienna Convention are technically foreign soil. Saudi Arabia may have agreed to the search in order to appease its Western allies and the international community.

However, it remained unclear what evidence, if any, would remain nearly two weeks after Khashoggi’s disappearance. As if to drive the point home, a cleaning crew with mops, trash bags and cartons of milk walked in past journalists waiting outside the consulate on Monday.

President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia could face “severe punishment” if it was proven it was involved in Khashoggi’s disappearance. Trump tweeted Monday that he had spoken with Saudi King Salman, “who denies any knowledge” of what happened to Khashoggi.

“He said that they are working closely with Turkey to find answer,” Trump wrote. “I am immediately sending our Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) to meet with King!” On Sunday, Saudi Arabia warned that if it “receives any action, it will respond with greater action, and that the kingdom’s economy has an influential and vital role in the global economy.”

“The kingdom affirms its total rejection of any threats and attempts to undermine it, whether by threatening to impose economic sanctions, using political pressures or repeating false accusations,” said the statement, carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The statement did not elaborate. However, a column published in English a short time later by the general manager of the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya satellite news network suggested Saudi Arabia could use its oil production as a weapon. Benchmark Brent crude is trading at around $80 a barrel, and Trump has criticized OPEC and Saudi Arabia over rising prices.

Saudi media followed on from that statement in television broadcasts and newspaper front pages Monday. The Arabic-language daily Okaz wrote a headline on Monday in English warning: “Don’t Test Our Patience.” It showed a clenched fist made of a crowd of people in the country’s green color.

The Saudi Gazette trumpeted: “Enough Is Enough,” while the Arab News said: “Saudi Arabia ‘will not be bullied’.” The Arab News’ headline was above a front-page editorial by Dubai-based real-estate tycoon Khalaf al-Habtoor, calling on Gulf Arab nations to boycott international firms now backing out of a planned economic summit in Riyadh later this month.

“Together we must prove we will not be bullied or else, mark my words, once they have finished kicking the kingdom, we will be next in line,” al-Habtoor said. Already, international business leaders are pulling out of the kingdom’s upcoming investment forum, a high-profile event known as “Davos in the Desert,” though it has no association with the World Economic Forum. They include the CEO of Uber, a company in which Saudi Arabia has invested billions of dollars; billionaire Richard Branson; JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Jamie Dimon; and Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford.

News that the CEO of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, would pull out of the conference drew angry responses across the region. The foreign minister of the neighboring island kingdom of Bahrain, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, tweeted Sunday night that there should be a boycott of the ride-hailing app both there and in Saudi Arabia.

Late Sunday, Saudi King Salman spoke by telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Khashoggi. Turkey said Erdogan “stressed the forming of a joint working group to probe the case.” Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, said King Salman thanked Erdogan “for welcoming the kingdom’s proposal” for forming the working group.

The king said Turkey and Saudi Arabia enjoy close relations and “that no one will get to undermine the strength of this relationship,” according to a statement on the state-run Saudi Press Agency. While Turkey and the kingdom differ on political issues, Saudi investments are a crucial lifeline for Ankara amid trouble with its national currency, the Turkish lira.

Prince Mohammed, King Salman’s son, has aggressively pitched the kingdom as a destination for foreign investment. But Khashoggi’s disappearance has led several business leaders and media outlets to back out of the upcoming investment conference in Riyadh, called the Future Investment Initiative.

The Saudi stock exchange, only months earlier viewed as a darling of frontier investors, plunged as much as 7 percent at one point Sunday before closing down over 4 percent. On Monday, Riyadh’s Tadawul exchange closed up 4 percent.

Concerns appeared to spread Monday to Japan’s SoftBank, which has invested tens of billions of dollars of Saudi government funds. SoftBank was down over 7 percent in trading on Tokyo’s stock exchange.

Khashoggi has written extensively for the Post about Saudi Arabia, criticizing its war in Yemen, its recent diplomatic spat with Canada and its arrest of women’s rights activists after the lifting of a ban on women driving. Those policies are all seen as initiatives of the crown prince.

Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey, and Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.

August 27, 2018

Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Bin Salman has threatened to target women and children in Yemen with the Saudi-led Arab coalition despite international criticism, Al-Khaleej Online has reported.

According to an “informed source”, who asked not to be named, the Crown Prince issued his threat during a meeting with the coalition’s military commanders following the massacre in Hodeida earlier this month.

“Do not care about international criticism,” Bin Salman is alleged to have told his officers, a reference to the international condemnation of military operations against civilians in Yemen, particularly raids that kill women and children. “We want to leave a big impact on the consciousness of Yemeni generations. We want their children, women and even their men to shiver whenever the name of Saudi Arabia is mentioned.”

Bin Salman’s threats coincide with condemnation of the Saudi-led Arab coalition’s bombing of displaced civilians as they fled from the fighting in Hodeida province.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180827-bin-salman-threatens-to-target-women-and-children-in-yemen-despite-international-criticism/.

August 06, 2018

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia on Monday ordered the Canadian ambassador to leave the ultraconservative kingdom within 24 hours after his nation criticized the recent arrest of women’s rights activists.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry also said it would freeze “all new business” between the kingdom and Canada. Some 10 percent of Canadian crude oil imports come from Saudi Arabia. “Any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in an extraordinarily aggressive statement. “Canada and all other nations need to know that they can’t claim to be more concerned than the kingdom over its own citizens.”

It wasn’t immediately clear if Ambassador Dennis Horak was in the kingdom. Saudi Arabia said it would recall its ambassador to Canada as well. Marie-Pier Baril, a spokeswoman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, said Canada was “seriously concerned” by Saudi Arabia’s actions.

“Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, very much including women’s rights, and freedom of expression around the world,” she said in a statement. “Our government will never hesitate to promote these values and believes that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

The dispute appears centered around tweets by Canadian diplomats calling on the kingdom to “immediately release” women’s rights activists recently detained by the kingdom. Among those recently arrested is Samar Badawi, whose brother Raif Badawi was arrested in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for criticizing clerics. His wife, Ensaf Haidar, is now living in Canada.

Freeland tweeted about the arrests on Thursday. “Very alarmed to learn that Samar Badawi, Raif Badawi’s sister, has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia,” she wrote. “Canada stands together with the Badawi family in this difficult time, and we continue to strongly call for the release of both Raif and Samar Badawi.”

Saudi Arabia ended in June its long practice of not allowing women to drive automobiles in the Sunni kingdom. However, supporters of women’s rights were arrested just weeks before the ban was lifted, signaling that only King Salman and his powerful son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, will decide the pace of change.

Saudi women still need permission from male guardians to travel abroad or marry. The diplomatic dispute with Canada may be part of that assertive foreign policy pushed by Crown Prince Mohammed under his father. Germany similarly has found itself targeted by the kingdom in recent months over comments by its officials on the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

It isn’t immediately clear what new business could be affected between the two countries. Bilateral trade between the two nations reached $3 billion in 2016, with tanks and fighting vehicles among the top Canadian exports to the kingdom, according to government statistics.

Saudi Arabia in recent years has expelled Iran’s ambassador over attacks on its diplomatic posts following its 2016 execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.