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Sudan And Bahrain Join Saudi Arabia, Cutting Diplomatic Ties With Iran

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it was severing its ties to Iran after its embassy in Tehran was firebombed in protest at the kingdom’s execution of Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Iranian protesters chant slogans as they hold pictures of Shi’ite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration against the execution of Nimr in Saudi Arabia, outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran January, 3, 2016.

Within hours, the United Arab Emirates announced it would downgrade ties to Tehran to the level of the charge d’affaires and would only focus on economic issues.

Jaber Ansari said the Islamic republic is obliged to respect the worldwide conventions and to protect diplomats and the diplomatic missions, and that in relation to the attacks on Saudi missions in Iran, the Iranian police and the judiciary have done their best to control the situation and deal with the attackers legally.

Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis on Monday as Riyadh and its Sunni Arab allies cut or reduced ties with Tehran, sparking global concern.

Demonstrators managed to set fire to the embassy building before eventually being dispersed by Iranian security forces.

“Based on the kingdom’s announcement of the severing of diplomatic relations with Iran, the General Authority for Civil Aviation is halting all flights from and to Iran“, the authority wrote on Twitter.

Iranian diplomats in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain were given a 48-hour deadline to leave the country.

Despite its protestations against the execution of Nimr, Iran is the only country in the Middle East and North Africa that carries out more executions than Saudi Arabia each year – globally, it is second only to China.

The escalating tensions between the two longtime regional rivals looks to further imperil efforts to end the wars in Syria and Yemen, where Saudi Arabia and Iran back rival sides. Riyadh should be applauded for executions, not criticized, he said.

Canada’s government is decrying a mass execution in Saudi Arabia which killed 47 people, including a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric, the Canadian Press writes.

Bahraini officials have blamed Iran for training militants and attempting to smuggle arms into the country, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The political divide between Saudi Arabia and Iran, always tinged with a religious flavor, has spiraled into a distinctly Sunni vs. Shia issue.

AFP reported on Monday that Russian Federation is ready to act as an intermediary between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia does not release its own figures on the number of people it executes. Its diplomats had already departed Iran before the attack.

ISIS, as the Islamic State is also known, controls territory across Iraq and Syria, and Western nations see the group’s defeat as a pivotal step toward bringing about a semblance of stability to the Middle East. Worsening relations between the region’s two most powerful Muslim nations are likely to make that more hard, though both countries ostensibly oppose ISIS.

The cleric’s execution has also threatened to complicate Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the Shiite-led government in Iraq, where the Saudi Embassy is preparing to formally reopen for the first time in almost 25 years.

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