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Dissent & diplomacy: on the Saudi-Canada spat

The Saudi-Canada spat calls into doubt Riyadh’s seriousness on social reform

Saudi Arabia’s furious( उग्र/तीव्र) response to Canada’s criticism(आलोचना/ समीक्षा) of the arrest of rights activists in the Kingdom once again calls into question Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s professed(स्पष्ट/प्रकट) commitment to reform(सुधार). Having ascended(चढ़ना) last June to be second in line to the throne, he had promised progressive economic and political change. Since then, Saudi Arabia has allowed women to drive, cracked down on hardliners among the clergy and projected itself as a moderate Islamic country that respects people’s rights, compared to “extremist(“चरमपंथी/उग्रवादी अतिवादी)Iran”. But when Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the release of Samar Badawi, a Saudi women’s rights activist who was detained(हिरासत में लिया/रोका हुआ)/ last week, and her brother Raif Badawi, Riyadh took a series of unilateral(एकतरफा ) steps. Terming Ms. Freeland’s appeal as interference (दखल अंदाजी)in its domestic affairs, it expelled(निष्कासित/ख़ारिज) the Canadian Ambassador, called back its envoy from Ottawa, froze trade with Canada and said it would transfer out some 12,000 Saudi citizens studying in Canadian universities. Ms. Badawi has long campaigned(अभियान चलाया) against Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws that require all Saudi women to have a male guardian. Riyadh is yet to give reasons for the arrest. Her brother, who ran a website critical(नाजुक/संकटपूर्ण) of the Saudi religious establishment(स्थापना/संस्थान), was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes in 2014.

On overseas(विदेशी) visits, Prince Mohammed has dwelt on his plan to improve women’s rights and strengthen the economy. He is also obliquely(विशिष्ट/फेर से) critical of the guardianship laws, saying they did not exist in Saudi Arabia before 1979 — the year of the Iranian revolution(क्रांति/चक्कर ) and the siege(घेराबंदी/अवरोध) of the Grand Mosque at Mecca. But despite this rhetoric(वक्रपटुता/उदारवादी) on rights, the palace has shown little tolerance of political criticism at home. Since May, many women’s rights activists have been detained. In addition, dozens of lawyers, human rights defenders(रक्षक/वकील) andintellectuals(बुद्धिजीवियों) have been arrested since September 2017. Interestingly, while most Western governments refrain from commenting on the crackdown against dissent(मतभेद/असहमति) in Saudi Arabia, Canada has given refuge to Mr. Badawi’s wife and children. For Canada, the spat could prove costly. Saudi Arabia is its second largest export destination(स्थान/गंतव्य )in West Asia. The two countries have signed a $12 billion arms deal, which is still in the works. But despite the aggressive Saudi response, Ottawa had stood by its Foreign Minister, saying it will continue to back “the protection of human rights, including women’s rights”. For Prince Mohammed, the diplomatic crisis is an opportunity to rethink the Kingdom’s approach towards dissent(असंतोष ) and diplomacy(कूटनीति/व्यवहार कौशल). If he is indeed serious about reform, Riyadh should be lenient(नरम/उदार) towards its advocates. Taking vengeful(प्रतिशोधपूर्ण/तामसिक ) action against those who stand by rights activists will neither help Saudi Arabia’s image nor attract investment into the country.


Important Vocabulary


1.Furious( उग्र/तीव्र)
Synonyms: desperate, enraged, fierce, frantic, frenetic
Antonyms: calm, cheerful,, gentle, happy, peaceful

Synonyms: climb, escalate, lift off, move up, soar
Antonyms: decline, decrease, descend, drop, fall

3.Detained(हिरासत में लिया/रोका हुआ
Synonyms: apprehend, confine, delay, jail, bust
Antonyms: free, liberate, advance, aid, allow

Synonyms:dislodge, drive out, evacuate, remove, belch
Antonyms: absorb., admit, allow, permit, take in

5.Obliquely(विशिष्ट/फेर से)
Synonyms: sidelong, cater-corner, catty-corner, cornerwise, diagonally

Synonyms: coup, innovation, insurgency, mutiny, rebellion
Antonyms: calm, harmony, peace, stagnation, calmness

Synonyms:discord, dissension, disunity, objection, opposition
Antonyms: acceptance, agreement, approval, concurrence, harmony

8.Vengeful(प्रतिशोधपूर्ण/तामसिक )
Synonyms: antagonistic, hostile, vindictive, avenging, implacable
Antonyms: agreeable, friendly, kind, nice, condoning

Synonyms: benign, compassionate, compliant, forgiving, indulgent
Antonyms: hateful, merciless, hard, intolerant, limiting




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