Saudi Arabia Cuts Its Diplomatic Ties with Iran Following Shia Cleric Execution

Saudi Arabia Cuts Its Diplomatic Ties with Iran Following Shia Cleric Execution

Saudi Arabia announced Sunday it was severing diplomatic relations with Shiite powerhouse Iran amid escalating tensions over the Sunni kingdom's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

The move came hours after protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and followed harsh criticism by Iran's top leader of the Saudis' execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Iranian diplomatic personnel had 48 hours to leave his country and all Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran had been called home.

The mass execution of al-Nimr and 46 others — the largest carried out by Saudi Arabia in three and a half decades — laid bare the sectarian divisions gripping the region as demonstrators took to the streets from Bahrain to Pakistan in protest.

It also illustrated the kingdom's new aggressiveness under King Salman. During his reign, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition fighting Shiite Houthis in Yemen and staunchly opposed regional Shiite power Iran, even as Tehran struck a nuclear deal with world powers.


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