Justin Trudeau’s government may have made a tactical error in trying to address human rights in Saudi Arabia.
By tweeting for everyone to see, rather than conducting traditional closed-door diplomacy, Canada has been hurt by Saudi Arabia’s retaliation with nothing to show for it.
A former Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia asked how this tweet helped anyone in Saudi Arabia or anyone in Canada, and found that it most likely did not.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is no stranger to human rights advocacy and showy displays of allyship with marginalized communities.
But his government may have made a tactical error in trying to address human rights in Saudi Arabia.
On Friday, Canada’s foreign affairs Twitter handle urged the “immediate release” of Saudi women’s rights activist Samar Badawi, and others also detained for similar activities from imprisonment in the kingdom.
Saudi Arabia issued a blistering response, quickly and sometimes harshly turning its state-run media to bash Canada.
In less than a week, Saudi Arabia then expelled its Canadian ambassador, froze all new investment, cancelled all flights to Toronto, pulled thousands of students from Canadian institutions, barred its citizens from getting medical treatment in Canadian hospitals , and reportedly sold off all its Canadian assets.
Canada remained firm in its support for the activists, with both its foreign minister and Trudeau doubling down on the sentiment.
On Wednesday, Trudeau told journalists : “Canadians have always expected our government to speak strongly, firmly, clearly and politely about the need to respect human rights at home and around the world.
“We will continue to stand up for Canadian values and indeed for universal values and human rights at any occasion.”
But whether or not Canada expects its government to use Twitter to compel foreign countries to meet its standards remains an open question.
According to David Chatterson, a former Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Trudeau’s government made a tactical error.
Was this tweet good for Canada?
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman actively reformed the theocratic monarchy in ways that both elevated human rights and improved economic prospects in the country.
By western standards, Saudi Arabia still lags far behind in its treatment of women and justice system, which recently saw a man crucified in Mecca. In reforming Saudi Arabia, even as an absolute monarch, Salman has to carefully maintain the support of religious hardliners while easing the country into modernity.
But, according to Chatterson, tweeting demands at the Saudi government doesn’t help advance human rights, or anything.
“The hard truth here is that the world is not waiting for Canada to preach to them or to criticize them,” Chatterson told CBC News. Canada and Saudi Arabia have a limited economic relationship and, as a small country half a world away and further separated by language and culture, Trudeau just doesn’t have much sway there.
“That’s not really what most countries do,” Chatterson said of the tweet. “Most countries engage …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Politics