Tensions rise between Saudi Arabia and Canada

In a tweet, the Canadian Foreign Ministry said it was "gravely concerned" by the arrest of Saudi activist Samar Badawi and other women's rights campaigners, and called for their release. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has the details.

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 4:56 PM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 5:03 PM

The first major global conflict of the 21st century broke out in the Middle East. It didn't involve Iran. ISIS wasn't a factor. Surprisingly, even Israel found itself on the sidelines.

The initial volley of shots in the battle for the post-US period came from Saudi Arabia. The power struggle was caused by Washington's withdrawal from the world.

President Trump had surrendered the United States' role as a principal source of global stability. No longer was the country going to honor alliances, treaties or traditions. No more would its foreign policy be guided by a set of values and an inclusive vision of the world. America First has left other nations, like Canada, to fend for themselves.

Criticism of its human-rights record should be nothing new for Saudi Arabia. The US badgers them, they bristle and then it's back to business as usual. So, when the Canadian ambassador decried the detention of a women's rights activist in a tweet last Friday, Ottawa expected a similar reaction.

Instead, Riyadh unleashed the diplomatic equivalent of its nuclear arsenal. Not only was the ambassador expelled, trade was cut off and even Saudis hospitalized in Canada were moved to other countries.

This was about more than a tough tweet. The kingdom's leaders want to recast its relations with the world. They know the United States is unlikely any longer to rush to the defense of human-rights activists or allies. Such a disproportionate reaction sends a strong message to other nations that would consider criticizing its conduct.

Saudi Arabia realizes that the rules are being rewritten. Influence is being reapportioned. The oil-rich nation saw its opportunity and seized the moment.

America has stood by and watched. It told both countries to work it out among themselves. That's diplomatic speak for you are on your own, Canada.

Out of pride and principle, Ottawa may take a stand and protest against bullying and bad behavior. But ultimately, Canada is likely to lose this scrap.

We are entering an era in which might more often will make right. No single nation will be able to effect tectonic shifts in the global order. Instead, regular tremors will disrupt and inflict damage on international institutions, as well as ideals for which they stand.

Canada, France -- and perhaps even someday again the US -- can push back against these trends. They can try to lead by example. But others will exploit the benefits of the geopolitical shift.

Western sanctions against nations breaking the rules won't be strong enough in the future. Their enticements will have lost much of their luster. The West simply won't have the power to impose its will on the world.

Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and other emerging powers will play by their own set of rules.

They will have on offer their own prizes and be able to pull out their own penalties. Many of the conditions and concerns that came with Western engagement will be cast aside. It may not replace a Washington-dominated world, but it will certainly be able to contest for influence.

So, what should leaders like Canada's Justin Trudeau and France's Emmanuel Macron do at this stage?

First, they need to lay out a much more compelling case for our shared values and a vision of the world they can create.

Second, that case needs to become much more pragmatic. Vague values like human rights and democracy are a tough sell these days. Instead, they should focus on the tangible value they create. It's a world that brought you the internet, the iPhone and the next major innovation coming just around the corner.

Finally, the West needs to go on the offensive. We spend far too much time reacting, responding and repairing the damage. It's time that we more aggressively defended ourselves. It's time we put those who would endanger our way of life on the defensive.

Other countries -- and our own citizens -- took a lot for granted in the era of American global leadership. Our leaders could be counted on to do what was right. As that period comes to a close, power is diffused not only across to other countries -- but downward.

The US government may not come to Canada's aid, but its people can. Individuals and institutions can speak out. We have witnessed the incredible power of citizen-led social and political movements in recent years. It could be mobilized, especially on an issue like women's rights. That might well significantly change Saudi Arabia's calculus.

Huntsville
Few Clouds
90° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
Florence
Clear
93° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 96°
Fayetteville
Few Clouds
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 88°
Decatur
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 93°
Scottsboro
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 94°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 59546

Reported Deaths: 723
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby13113219
Davidson12935142
Rutherford342839
Hamilton319637
Sumner187456
Williamson167016
Knox15069
Trousdale15065
Out of TN139710
Wilson113017
Putnam10027
Unassigned9362
Bradley9254
Robertson90113
Sevier8843
Montgomery7127
Lake6960
Tipton6926
Bledsoe6271
Bedford5989
Macon5686
Hamblen4474
Maury4313
Hardeman4004
Fayette3573
Madison3472
Loudon3201
Blount3063
Rhea3030
Dyer2803
McMinn27018
Cheatham2643
Dickson2510
Washington2350
Lawrence2276
Cumberland2004
Anderson1892
Sullivan1892
Lauderdale1754
Gibson1661
Jefferson1641
Monroe1526
Smith1482
Greene1382
Coffee1370
Cocke1300
Hardin1257
Warren1200
Obion1182
Haywood1132
Franklin1103
Wayne1100
Marshall1082
Hickman1010
McNairy1001
Marion914
Giles891
Carter871
Lincoln840
Hawkins832
DeKalb820
White813
Roane800
Overton701
Weakley691
Claiborne680
Campbell671
Grundy652
Henderson650
Chester590
Unicoi560
Grainger550
Polk550
Carroll521
Henry500
Crockett493
Cannon460
Jackson460
Johnson450
Sequatchie450
Humphreys392
Meigs370
Perry370
Morgan301
Decatur280
Fentress270
Stewart270
Scott260
Union220
Houston200
Clay180
Moore170
Benton151
Hancock110
Lewis100
Van Buren90
Pickett70

 

 

Community Events