Saudi FM seeks apology from Canada, says doesn’t want anything to do with Qatar

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir demanded an apology from Canada on Wednesday, denouncing an “outrageous” tweet by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland directed at the kingdom last month, and accusing them of treating the kingdom like “a banana republic.”

“What are we? A banana republic? Would any country accept this?” al-Jubeir said at an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “You owe us an apology. It is very easy to fix -- apologize, say you made a mistake.”

Jubeir’s comments cast doubt over rumors that both countries would reach a quick resolution. Freeland had mentioned that she intended to speak to Jubeir on the sidelines of the UN meetings this week.

However, Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia’s stance in the dispute remains the same, and that Canada did not change its stance either.

“We did not do this, you did. Fix it. You owe us an apology. Apologize, say you made a mistake,” he said. “In Canada we became a political football. Find another ball to play with, not Saudi Arabia.”

Jubeir also criticized Canada for making such demands, adding that many countries like the US, UK and Germany have criticized Saudi Arabia over similar issues before, but never made demands.

“It is outrageous from our perspective that a country will sit there and lecture us, and make demands. ‘We demand the immediate release’.. Really? We demand the immediate independence of Quebec and the equal granting of rights to Canadian Indians,” Jubeir said.

Saudi Arabia had frozen new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in retaliation for Ottawa’s call to free the arrested individuals. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada, making plans to relocate tens of thousands of Saudi students and patients to other countries.

Jubeir said that the Saudi public prosecutor told the Canadian ambassador that charges against the people in question who are at the core of the dispute were related to them accepting cash from foreign governments and raising money for extremist groups.

“Some of them were released, others will go to trial and the evidence will be revealed to the world,” Jubeir said.

Jubeir prompted laughter from the audience when he said “we don’t want anything to do with them”, referring to a question about Qatar.

Jubeir explained that Qatar has been funding extremism and inciting instability in the region since the 1990s. He added that the Qataris harbor and shelter terrorists, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jubeir also mentioned the audio and text messages obtained by the Washington Post which revealed a multi-million dollar sum allocated by Qatar to Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, as part of a deal to release 25 members from its ruling family from Iraqi kidnappers last year.

“Is that acceptable? If we gave $1 to Hezbollah and Iraq, we would be sued in a court down the street,” Jubeir said.

“Why do the Qataris get away with it? Because I think people see a young country, young leadership, they buy fancy buildings, they have a nice airline and they think ‘wow these guys are really modern.’ But we have to deal with the dark side that I just explained,” Jubeir added.

Jubeir said that the kingdom is waiting for Qatar to change, and implement “the things they promised to implement.”

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