In explaining its decision to expel Iranian diplomats, Saudi Arabia cited “hostile” comments by Iran after the execution of Nimr on Saturday, as well as the subsequent attack on its embassy in Tehran. After Saudi Arabia carried out the executions, protesters in Tehran stormed and burned the Saudi embassy.
Sunni-led Saudi Arabia claims the killing was part of a war on terrorism – but it has sparked protests among Shia Muslims throughout the region.
In his conversation with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, Ban expressed “disappointment” over the execution of al-Nimr, whose case he had raised with Riyadh many times, said Dujarric. “I hope they will work out some of their differences in a different way”, he said of Iran and Saudi Arabia. World powers sought to calm the tensions, with a Russian state news agency on Monday quoting an unnamed senior diplomat as saying Moscow is ready to act as a mediator in the escalating conflict.
On Monday, US Department of State spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Saudi-Iranian tensions should not have a negative impact on the Syrian peace process. Sudan said it also was severing diplomatic ties with Iran, which had sought to improve relations with Sudan in recent years to make it an economic and military foothold in Africa.
“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Teheran, and its Consulate General in Mashhad in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which resulted in intrusions into the diplomatic and consular premises, causing serious damage”, said the council statement.
The move comes months after Sudan joined Saudi Arabia’s coalition fighting Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.
Sami Aoun, a director of the Raoul Dandurand Chair of strategic and diplomatic studies for the Université du Québec à Montréal, said the violence and tough talk this week between the two countries are symptoms of a strained relationship that dates back several decades.
“Saudi Arabia is a police state”, Elmenyawi said.
Meanwhile, the official Anadolu Agency reported that Turkey’s top Islamic figure, Mehmet Gormez, who heads the Religious Affairs Directorate, had arrived in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for a two day visit. “We reaffirm our calls on the government of Saudi Arabia to respect and protect human rights, and to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases”.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief warned Iran’s foreign minister on Sunday that renewed tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia could wreck efforts to find a political solution for the crisis in Syria.