Iran’s deputy foreign minister says Saudi Arabia’s decision to severe diplomatic relations can not cover up Riyadh’s “strategic mistake” in killing a prominent Shiite cleric.
Following the execution on Saturday of 47 convicts by the Saudi authorities – including al-Nimr – Iranian protestors stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the Saudi consulate in Iran’s northeastern city of Mashhad.
In response, Saudi Arabia warned outside powers against interfering with internal affairs and has since severed diplomatic ties with Iran. Saudi allies Bahrain and Sudan followed suit Monday by completely severing ties, while the United Arab Emirates downgraded its diplomatic efforts.
The flare-up between Iran and Saudi Arabia threatened to derail efforts to end Syria’s 5-year-old civil war, where Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab powers support rebel groups against Iranian-backed President Bashar al-Assad.
In October, Bahrain ordered the acting Iranian charge d’affaires to leave within 72 hours and recalled its own ambassador from Tehran after alleging Iran sponsored “subversion” and “terrorism” and funneled arms to militants.
“What [Saudi Arabia] is really doing with this execution of this Shi’a cleric, it’s trying to back Iran off the plate, saying ‘we can mess up the entire deal with Iran if we so choose, ‘” he said.
Saudi Ambassador Abdallah Al Mouallimi had earlier urged the council to “take all appropriate measures to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic facilities and the protection of all Saudi diplomats in Iran”.
Cairo: The Arab League will hold emergency talks on Sunday at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss attacks in Iran on the kingdom’s embassy. Saudi Arabia issued the same order Sunday.
It was not immediately clear, however, whether an Iranian representative would be present at the talks.
The kingdom announced later that it would also cut commercial ties, including flights and travel of Saudi citizens to the Islamic Republic.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by phone with the Saudi and Iranian foreign ministers to urge them to “avoid any actions that could further exacerbate the situation between two countries and in the region as a whole”, said Ban’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric.