The Canadian federal government says it considers the Badawi case a violation of human dignity and has asked for clemency. The Quebec provincial government has been even more vehement in its criticism of the Saudi punishment.
The Quebec premier, Philippe Couillard, did not back down on its opposition and torture of Badawi even though Naif Al-Sudairy sent a letter to the Quebec National Assembly telling it not to meddle in Saudi internal affairs or criticize the country's human rights record.
Part of the letter sent on March 10 read: "The Kingdom does not accept at all any attack on it in the name of human rights, especially when its constitution is based on Islamic law, which guarantees human rights (sic)."
In February the Quebec National Assembly passed a motion that condemned the whipping of Badawi and expressed support for his wife and three children who are living in Quebec.
While Egypt does not outright give support for Assad, an Egyptian official told AP that the Assad regime "must be part of the negotiations and the transitional period." The opposition members who would agree to this are no doubt few in number and any political agreement might have very little effect on the battles taking place in Syria. The tightly controlled press in Egypt and Saudi Arabia lambasted each other for their respective positions on Syria.
Egypt is obviously trying to develop its own more independent foreign policy that is distressing not just to the US but US ally Saudi Arabia as well.
When Hadi and others in talks brokered by the UN failed to negotiate a government acceptable to the Houthis, they seized power and have been setting up their own government. Hadi was able to flee from house arrest to Aden but he was driven out of his retreat although he is still in the Aden area. He has been desperately seeking help from other countries and the UN.
For several days Saudi Arabia had been moving heavy military equipment including artillery near the border with Yemen. The Saudis are very concerned about successful advances of the Houthis who have the support of Iran. However, they also have the support of former president Saleh and a considerable number of the armed forces. The Saudis and GCC will not likely be able to simply march in and restore the rule of their favorite, Hadi , as they were able to do to control Houthi protests against the Bahraini ruler in Bahrain. The Saudi action could very well create significant protests in the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia site of significant oil resources and with Shiite majorities.
The US has evacuated its special forces from Yemen as Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) advanced close to their base. AQAP has allied with Sunni tribes in some areas to check the advance of the Houthis. The US has not been involved in the operations although until recently they continued carrying out drone strikes against AQAP. Suicide attacks in two Sanaa mosques that killed at least 137 people and wounded another 345 were claimed to be the work of the Islamic State. The Saudi incursion may be quite costly to them if they send in ground forces. Instead of working for a political solution the Saudis will simply add another dimension of violence and create a wider civil war.
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Ken is a retired philosophy professor living in the boondocks of Manitoba, Canada, with his Filipina wife. He enjoys reading the news and writing articles. Politically Ken is on the far left of the political spectrum on many issues.
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