Twitter's Butterfly Effect 🦋

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

Charles Dharapak/AP Photo

That escalated quickly

A single tweet by Canada has resulted in bad blood between Canada and Saudi Arabia. The tweet criticized the Saudi government’s recent arrests of women’s rights activists. The Saudi government didn't take it well. Over the past few days, Saudi has deported the Canadian ambassador, froze “all new trade and investment transactions” with Canada, and even suspended Saudi Arabian Airlines flights to and from Canada.


Don't push my buttons

While Saudi Arabia isn't exactly known for human rights, most Western nations have kept their criticism at bay due to the kingdom's role as a powerful ally in the Middle East. Canada chose to speak up and the Saudis have shown that they won't back down. 

Saudi-friendly outlets (mostly Middle Eastern media) emphasize that the tweet challenged Saudi autonomy. While the outlets quickly reject the claim of human rights abuse against women’s rights activists, a heavier emphasis is placed on the fact that a Western nation is trying to tell Saudi Arabia how to run its country. The word “interference” is commonly used and outlets state that such a tweet is against basic international rules and charters. 

Canada-friendly outlets (mostly Western media) focus on the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. Many emphasize that the Saudi’s have recently cracked down on women’s rights activists. The rhetoric on the pro-Canada side is focused on the activists rather than the state. Most outlets have repeated the sentiment stated by Amnesty International that unequivocally condemns arresting the activists and asks others to join in criticizing Saudi Arabia’s acts.

The Bigger Picture: A Sleeping Giant?

Saudi Arabia has traditionally been a close ally to Western nations. However, the kingdom has recently taken a more maverick stance regarding diplomacy. Last year, for example, they severed all ties with Qatar after accusing the country of supporting Islamist groups. Many see such actions as the kingdom trying to expand its influence to become an international leader. With its oil-rich state accounts and an accumulation of military hardware, Saudi Arabia may be a sleeping giant that has just now begun to move. 

Saudi Arabia flexin' like...



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