A jarring article in The New Republic claims that the Saudis are threatening to retaliate against Canadian interference in the theocracy's internal affairs by supporting Quebec's separation from Canada.
Relations between Canada and Saudi Arabia are at a low point after CanadianForeign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized the oil-rich country’s human rights record last week. In response, Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada’s ambassador and suspended trade deals.
Going further, the Saudi government even threatened to retaliate by intervening in Canada’s internal affairs.“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 government wrote.
As BuzzFeed observes this threat was accompanied by a social media surge of Saudi Twitter accounts supporting Quebec independence and indigenous rights in Canada.The article argues that Trudeau brought this on by first upholding the $15-billion Saudi "death wagon" deal and then seeking to appease his critics by sniping at the Saudi regime over human rights.
Normally, the United States would support Canada over Saudi Arabia in a human rights dispute. But this is no longer certain. President Donald Trump is generally pro-Saudi Arabia and has rocky relations with Justin Trudeau. As Bessma Momani, a professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, noted:Sorry, Justin, but you chose to get in bed with these snakes. Now you're getting the fangs.
Unlike any other time in modern history, Canada would expect the US to criticize the Saudi’s brash decision to recall Cdn Ambassador. But is Trump relishing in this attempt to slight Trudeau? Did Saudis clear this with DC first? Odd questions to ask, but we live in odd times.— Bessma Momani (@b_momani) August 6, 2018
And, now this:
While the Saudis have denied any link in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon - even though 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens - "A verified Saudi Twitter account curating infographics for the kingdom" posted the graphic above showing an Air Canada jetliner heading straight for the CN Tower.
The account, which is verified on Twitter and boasts more than 350,000 followers, states it is a "voluntary non-profit project" that is "managed by a group of Saudi youth who are interested in technology and social media facts backed by numbers & evidence".
But aviation analyst Alex Macheras, who described the image as "concerning rhetoric emerging from Saudi Arabia" said the account was connected to the royal court.
Even if the verified account is not a direct spokesperson for the Saudi rulers, very few accounts, NGOs or individuals are permitted to openly discuss politics in Saudi Arabia on a global platform. Riyadh is notoriously vigilant in its policing of its citizens' social media, and the infographic_ksa account has been active since 2015, spouting propaganda following the official and unofficial Saudi state narrative.