AFP has cited a Western official as saying, on condition of anonymity, that Canada's recent diplomatic row with Saudi Arabia may prompt Western countries to think twice before criticizing the kingdom's human rights record in the future.
"We are coming to terms with the new red lines. We are trying to understand: Can we still do critical tweets from foreign ministries in our capitals? What's going to get you PNG'd?" the official said, in reference to a Canadian envoy who was earlier declared a persona non grata by Saudi Arabia.
The official was echoed by Bessma Momani, a professor at Canada's University of Waterloo, who told AFP that Western countries should "very much be wary of openly criticizing Saudi domestic policy."
"The Canadian case has proved that lots of business deals could be lost if criticism of Saudi Arabia upsets its rulers," Momani underscored.
In this regard, she referred to hardline steps by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has tried to contain criticism of "Saudi domestic and […] foreign policy particularly with regards to Yemen, since the kerfuffle with Canada."
On August 6, the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh posted Arab and English language tweets calling for the "immediate release" of activists jailed in Saudi Arabia, in a move that infuriated Riyadh.
The Saudi-led coalition, mainly consisting of Persian Gulf countries, has been carrying out airstrikes against the Houthi movement in Yemen since March 2015, after it launched a campaign to support the country's President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who fled the country when Houthi rebels conducted a coup.