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Saudi Arabia breaks diplomatic relations with Iran: row over execution of Shia cleric

Tuesday, January 5th 2016 - 01:39 UTC
Full article 9 comments
Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on Saturday after being convicted of terror-related offences. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on Saturday after being convicted of terror-related offences.

Saudi Arabia says it has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran, amid a row over the Saudi execution of a prominent Shia Muslim cleric. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was speaking after demonstrators had stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

 Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others were executed on Saturday after being convicted of terror-related offences. Mr Jubeir said that all Iranian diplomats must leave Saudi Arabia within 48 hours. Saudi Arabia was recalling its diplomats from Tehran, he said.

Mr Jubeir said Saudi Arabia would not let Iran undermine its security, accusing it of having “distributed weapons and planted terrorist cells in the region”.

“Iran's history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction,” he told a news conference.

US state department spokesman John Kirby said: “We will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions”.

“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential,” he said.

Earlier, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that the Sunni Muslim kingdom would face “divine revenge” for the execution - an act which also angered Shia Muslims elsewhere in the Middle East.

Ayatollah Khamenei called Sheikh Nimr a “martyr” who had acted peacefully.

Protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday, setting fire to the building before being driven back by police. The Saudi foreign ministry said none of its diplomats had been harmed in the incident.

Iran is Saudi Arabia's main regional rival - they back opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. Relations between the countries have been strained over various issues in recent decades, including Iran's nuclear program and deaths of Iranians at the Hajj pilgrimage in 1987 and again in 2015.

Most of the 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia were Sunnis convicted of involvement in al-Qaeda-linked terror attacks over the last decade. Sheikh Nimr was involved in anti-government protests that erupted in Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Arab Spring, up to his arrest in 2012.

The execution sparked new demonstrations in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, where Shia Muslims complain of marginalization, as well as in Iraq, Bahrain and several other countries.

The top Shia cleric in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani denounced the execution as an “unjust aggression”.

The leader of Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, launched his sharpest attack yet on the Saudi ruling family on Sunday, accusing them of seeking to ignite a Shia-Sunni civil war across the world.

He said the blood of Sheikh Nimr would “plague the Al Saud [family] until the Day of Resurrection”, prompting cries of “Death to the Al Saud!” among an audience watching his address.

Categories: Politics, International.
Tags: Irak, Saudi Arabia.

Top Comments

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  • SebaSvtz

    Let them kill each other.

    KSA, an absolute monarchy, corrupt, whose “princes” live in London spending their filthy money. They are only allowed to exists because of the insane wealth they own, nothing else. Despicable barbarians, they hate human rights and the west, but they don´t mind taking advantage of its privileges and banks. Funny, I wonder how many buildings built by Trump in the US belong to these savages (yet he keeps telling he´s against them). They support ISIS and who knows how many others. And don´t forget that Bin Laden was ... from there.

    Iran, home of a criminal, terrorist supporter regime. They have their hands covered in blood of so many innocents all over the world (Argentina included: AMIA). A psycho land ruled by a sick gang of clerics. They hold, yet, a small but inventive and well educated population that is oppressed by islamic regulations.

    Islam is the real threat to the western world and civilization. And these two countries are willing to support all attempts to destroy our world. I hope they wipe each other out of this planet.

    Jan 05th, 2016 - 10:08 am 0
  • lsolde

    Pretty hard to argue with that.

    Jan 05th, 2016 - 01:01 pm 0
  • Englander

    Oil price should start rising now.

    Jan 05th, 2016 - 02:36 pm 0
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