“A solution to this tension is going to be long-lasting and sustainable and keep them focused on what we all ought to be focused on, which is larger issues in the region”.
“Al-Nimr is now gaining popularity locally, particularly with young people, as his words appeal to those disaffected by the general economic malaise experienced by Saudi Arabia’s lower classes and a perceived lack of sufficient [Saudi Arabian government] reform in relations with the Shi’a community”. News of his execution has sparked Shiite protests from Bahrain to Pakistan.
After protesters set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran, giving diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. The statement carried by its state-run news agency said it made the decision in “solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the face of Iranian schemes”. And the Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh, Saudi Arabia’s top Sunni cleric, described the killings as a “mercy to the prisoners” since it stopped them from doing more evil things, the Associated Press reports.
Saudi Arabia’s United Nations ambassador says his country backs efforts to bring peace to Syria and Yemen and its break in diplomatic relations with Iran should have no effect on upcoming talks. Bahrain, which expelled its own Iranian diplomats after accusing Tehran of supporting terrorist groups within its territory in October, said that Saturday’s attack “confirms a determination to spread devastation and destruction, and provoke unrest and strife in the region by providing protection and support for terrorists and extremists and the smuggling of weapons and explosives for use by its affiliated terrorist cells”.
Trade between Saudi Arabia and Iran is small compared with the size of their economies, but some business is routed through the United Arab Emirates; comprehensive figures are not available.
Bahrain frequently accuses Iran of being behind the long-running, low-level insurgency in the country since its majority Shiite population began protests in 2011 against Bahrain’s Sunni rulers.
Riyadh cut its ties after two of its diplomatic posts were attacked in the capital Tehran and the northeastern city of Mashhad, accusing Tehran of not doing enough to stop protesters from damaging its premises.
Of particular concern, USA officials said, are military operations against Islamic State extremists in Iraq that are being conducted by Iraqi security forces, which answer to an Iran-friendly government, and Sunni and Shiite militias.
The UAE said Iran needed to stay out of Arab affairs and not act like a protector of Arab Shi’ites. All Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran have been called home.
The move could affect the annual hajj pilgrimage.
World powers have sought to calm the tensions, with Washington and the European Union reaching out. The United Nations aims to hold talks on January 25 in Geneva.
The White House on Monday urged Saudi Arabia and Iran to not let their dispute derail efforts to end the Syrian civil war.
“These countries don’t trust one another, and they see every event as an opportunity to raise tensions”, Kadhim said.
Al-Nimr, a Shiite cleric and outspoken critic of Saudi Arabia’s treatment of its Shiite Muslim minority, was executed on charges of inciting domestic terrorism and plotting to overthrow the Saudi government. Authorities have already buried the sheikh’s body in an undisclosed cemetery, his family said.
The official Saudi Press Agency reported early Monday that a man was killed in al-Awamiya village and a child was wounded.