Canada agreed to restore full diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, ending a five-year diplomatic boycott it declared in protest against the Saudi human rights violations which are still being reported.
In a press release issued last Wednesday, the two countries have both announced that they will resume diplomatic relations. Each side will also appoint a new ambassador.
The decision came after talks last year between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the sidelines of the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum in Bangkok.
The two parties cited “mutual respect and common interests” as motivation for the rekindled ties.
The statement completely ignored the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia or even the main reason for the 2018 dispute when Canada’s embassy in Riyadh published a tweet in Arabic urging the immediate release of women’s rights activists held by Saudi Arabia.
“Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi,” the ministry wrote on its official Twitter page in August 2018.
“We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.”
Those messages prompted a Twitter feud with Saudi Arabia, which retorted that Canada’s interference in its affairs was a “breach of the principle of sovereignty”.
“The Canadian position is a grave and unacceptable violation of the Kingdom’s laws and procedures,” Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote in response, in a string of messages, announcing it would recall its ambassador to Canada.
Only two months later, Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident journalist, was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
His murder sparked widespread condemnation, pointing the finger against the Saudi regime. Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia remained frosty following the incident.
In its turn, Saudi Arabia’s government reiterated its rejection of what it called Canadian “interference” in the kingdom’s internal affairs. The Saudi government also placed a ban on new trade with Canada. The Saudi sanctions forced Canada to retreat and restore ties with the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia has been on the world stage for a series of rapprochements as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working to present Saudi Arabia as a regional power, taking advantage of the global oil crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.