Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after embassy attack

Riyadh, Jan 4 (IANS) Saudi Arabia snapped diplomatic ties with Iran and asked all Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 48 hours, the media reported.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said he has informed the UN Security Council of the attack on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran late Saturday, and added that the Saudi diplomats from the mission had safely reached Dubai, the UAE, Xinhua reported.

He accused the Iranian authorities of not taking any measures to prevent the attacks against the embassy in Tehran and the consulate in the city of Mashhad.

Late Saturday, angry Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi diplomatic mission to protest the Saudi execution of 47 individuals on terrorism charges, including a Saudi Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr.

The attacks violated international agreements, al-Jubeir said, who also cited the Iranians’ previous attacks on the US and British embassies.

He accused Iran of providing protection for Al-Qaeda through weapon trafficking.

For his part, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani used the word “inhuman” to strongly denounce the Saudi execution.

He also urged relevant Iranian departments to prosecute those “extremist individuals” who attacked the embassy and the Saudi consulate in the city of Mashhad.

Though Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic ties with Iran, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian responded that Riyadh’s move will by no way cover up “its major mistake of executing Sheikh Nimr”.

Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei predicted “divine vengeance” for al-Nimr’s execution.

In the Middle East, tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia have lasted for decades. The Saudi Shia cleric’s execution further intensified the rivalry.

Al-Nimr’s execution by Saudi Arabia led to a series of protests in Shia-majority countries across the Middle East.

Iraq expressed anger over Riyadh’s execution. Iraqi top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani slammed the execution as an “unjust aggression”.

In Istanbul, people gathered outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate holding posters of al-Nimr, and shouted “Saudi Arabia will pay the price.”

Some Western countries also voiced their concern about al-Nimr’s execution.

Washington said that in order to ease tension, it hoped regional leaders could deepen diplomatic ties and take “affirmative steps.”

“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences and we will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions,” said an official of US President Barack Obama’s administration.

On Sunday, France showed its grief over the mass execution and restated that France would stand against death penalty “in all places and circumstances.”

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