Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran amid rising tensions

The move came after Iranians stormed and burned the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran in protest of Saudi Arabia’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says his country is severing diplomatic ties with Iran amid spiking tensions over the execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric.

Al-Jubeir said late Sunday evening that Iranian diplomatic personnel had 48 hours to leave the country and all Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran were being recalled home.

The execution of a Shiite cleric in Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia laid bare the divisions now gripping the Middle East, as protesters set fire Sunday to the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and demonstrators took to the streets from Bahrain to Pakistan.

The mass execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr along with 46 others — the largest carried out by Saudi Arabia in three and a half decades — illustrates the kingdom’s new aggressiveness under King Salman.

During his reign, Saudi Arabia has led a coalition fighting Shiite rebels in Yemen and staunchly opposed regional Shiite power Iran, even as Tehran struck a nuclear deal with world powers.

Al-Nimr was a central figure in Arab Spring-inspired protests by Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority until his arrest in 2012. He was convicted of terrorism charges but denied advocating violence.

On Saturday, Saudi Arabia put al-Nimr and three other Shiite dissidents to death, along with a number of al-Qaida militants. Al-Nimr’s execution drew protests from Shiites around the world, who backed his call for reform and wider political freedom for their sect.

Full article: Saudi Arabia cuts diplomatic ties with Iran amid rising tensions (The Christian Science Monitor)

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