Middle East Reaching Boiling Point as Saudi Arabia Severs Diplomatic Ties with Iran

January 4, 2016

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The Saudi government has broken off all diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday, with the Iranian government accusing the Saudis of stoking tensions in the Middle East. Saudi diplomats were given 48 hours to leave Iran.

Angry Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran early Sunday morning after the government of Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, along with 46 others, on charges of terrorism. Al-Nimr’s death sparked Shiite led protests across the Middle East on Sunday.

Iran and Saudi Arabia are the Muslim Shiite and Sunni powers respectively in the region. Both countries have squared off over the war in Syria and conflict in Yemen, with Iran backing the Syrian regime and a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen.  

Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, said that the execution of al-Nimr was a “big mistake” and that the Saudis would pay for their actions.

“By deciding to sever (diplomatic) relations, Saudi Arabia cannot make (the world) forget its big mistake of executing a cleric,” he was quoted as saying by IRNA news agency.

Abdollahian added that Saudi Arabia had committed a “strategic error in adopting rash and hasty decisions that have spread instability and caused the development of terrorism in the region.”

The deputy foreign minister blamed the Saudis for “undermining the interests of its own people and the Muslim people of the region with its plot to bring down oil prices,” which have hit new lows.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed al-Nimr as a “martyr” and warned that the Sunni kingdom would face “divine revenge.”

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