DUBAI: Arab countries have lined up in support of Saudi Arabia after it took trade and diplomatic measures against Canada on Monday in response to the latter’s interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.
The move came in response to statements demanding the immediate release of what Canada called “civil society and women’s rights activists” that were made on the foreign policy Twitter feed of Global Affairs Canada, retweeted by the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, and a similar tweet but its Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.
Saudi Arabia said it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its envoy while freezing all new trade.
In a strongly worded statement released on Monday, the Muslim World League condemned the Canadian government’s blatant interference.
The statement said the sovereignty of states needs to be respected and that international conventions, principles and norms have to be observed, adding that no country should interfere in another country’s matters.
The Muslim World League added that the Kingdom is governed by its constitution, regulations and legal processes which are widely known, much like the legal systems of other countries.
It stressed that Saudi Arabia has the right to take a firm stand towards the “outrageous and unprecedented diplomatic failure” of Canada.
Saudi Arabia, the statement added, is characterized by the enforcement of Islamic law, and it is wrong for people to compromise this.
Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also expressed his support for Saudi Arabia’s actions. He condemned the Canadian statements, which he described as false and an unacceptable interference in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.
"These statements are a clear violation of the principles of the UN Charter and also detrimental to the relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada," Dr. Al-Zayani added.
The Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Dr. Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, expressed the parliament's full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its decision. In a statement, he said: ”The very negative and irresponsible phrase contained in the Canadian statement that Canada urges authorities in the Kingdom to release the detainees immediately constitutes an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a condemned demand contrary to the principle of the independence of the judiciary and applying the criminal justice.”
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, took to Twitter on Monday, saying: “We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws.”
He added: “We cannot accept our laws and sovereignty becoming subject to pressure. Some countries believe that their diplomatic model and experience allows them to interfere in other’s affairs.”
Also on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed that the Palestinian people and leadership support Saudi Arabia.
In his statement published by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Abbas expressed his total condemnation of Canada’s blatant interference in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs, saying that he considers it a serious impingement on the sovereignty of the Kingdom.
He called on Arab states to support the Kingdom by rejecting and condemning Canada’s interference.
Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying it remained in solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any external interference in its internal affairs or any side’s attempt to undermine Saudi sovereignty.
“Bahrain also confirms its absolute support for the measures taken by the Kingdom in response to the statements made by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, on what they called civil society activists,” the statement read.
“Bahrain regrets Canada’s position, based on totally erroneous information that has nothing to do with reality on the ground. It absolutely rejects its unacceptable intervention in Saudi internal affairs.
“Bahrain affirms that it stands with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in all the measures it has taken to maintain its security and stability, stressing the need to respect the Saudi regulations and judiciary and abide by the norms and conventions governing international relations.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said it totally understands the Kingdom’s position requiring no interference in its internal affairs, a principal guaranteed by all international conventions and norms that reject the interference in other states’ affairs and that call for the respect of states’ sovereignty.
Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the OIC’s secretary-general, said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state widely respected in the regional and on the world stage. The Saudi judiciary is fully independent and has international laws that guarantee, regulate and respect the society’s activities.