Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after embassy attack

Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran after embassy attack
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir made this statement during a press conference held at Saudi Foreign Ministry press hall, on January 3, 2016 in Riyadh.

Riyadh - Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir made the announcement at a news conference in Riyadh, and said Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

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Published: Mon 4 Jan 2016, 8:33 AM

Last updated: Sun 10 Jan 2016, 5:56 PM

Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday after protesters ransacked its embassy in Tehran to protest the execution of a Shia cleric whose killing has sparked fury.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir made the announcement at a news conference in Riyadh, and said Iranian diplomats had 48 hours to leave the kingdom.
The diplomatic fallout come as Iran's supreme leader said Saudi Arabia would face "quick consequences" for executing Shaikh Nimr Al Nimr, and as Washington urged regional leaders to soothe escalating sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslims.
Saudi Arabia "is breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran and requests that all members of the Iranian diplomatic mission leave... within 48 hours," Jubeir said.

"Iran's history is full of negative interference and hostility in Arab issues, and it is always accompanied by destruction," he said, accusing Tehran of seeking to "destabilise" the region.
On Saturday, a mob attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and a consulate in the second city of Mashhad amid protests at Al Nimr's execution.
Also read: Iranian protesters damage Saudi embassy in Tehran
Jubeir said Saudi authorities had asked their Iranian counterparts to ensure security at the embassy but they did not cooperate and failed to protect it.
Nimr, 56, was a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in oil-rich eastern Saudi Arabia.
He was put to death along with 46 other people, including Shia activists and convicted Sunni militants who the Saudi interior ministry says were involved in Al Qaeda attacks that killed dozens in 2003 and 2004.
Some were beheaded and others were shot by firing squad.  
Iran has said it arrested 44 people over the embassy attacks, and President Hassan Rouhani said the demonstrators were "radicals" and the assaults "totally unjustifiable".
Also read: GCC, Jordan slam attacks on Saudi missions
Also read: UAE and Bahrain back executions in Saudi
 A look at long-fraught relation between Saudi Arabia, Iran
Pre-Revolution Relations: Under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran had rocky relations with Saudi Arabia, though they improved toward the end of his reign. Both were original members of the oil cartel OPEC.
Post-Revolution: After the overthrow of the shah and takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia quickly became America's top ally in the region. In the ensuing 1980s war between Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia backed Iraq.
1987 Haj Riots: The annual pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, saw bloodshed when Iranians held a political demonstration. Iranian pilgrims later battled Saudi riot police, violence that killed at least 402 people. Iran claimed 600 of its pilgrims were killed and said police fired machine guns at the crowd. In Tehran, mobs attacked the Saudi, Kuwaiti, French and Iraqi embassies, ransacking the first two.
Severing Ties: In 1988, Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran, citing the 1987 Haj rioting and Iran's attacks on shipping. Iranians responded by boycotting the Haj in 1988 and 1989. The two countries restored diplomatic ties in 1991.
Easing Tensions: Relations between the two nations improved after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami took office in 1997. Ties warmed further after historic visits by Saudi Crown Prince to Tehran in December 1997 and Khatami to the kingdom in May 1999.
Nuclear Dispute: Worries about Iran resumed in Saudi Arabia amid international sanctions against Tehran over its contested nuclear program and the increasingly harsh rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iran and Saudi Arabia each backed opposite sides in Syria's civil war, as well as in the civil war in Yemen.
2015 Haj Disaster: On September 24, a stampede and crush strikes the annual Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. While the kingdom says 769 pilgrims are killed, an Associated Press count shows over 2,400 people were killed. Iran says at least 464 of its pilgrims were killed and blames Saudi Arabia.
Shia Cleric's Execution: On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed a Shia cleric, who had been behind anti-government protests. This sparked protests across the Mideast and attacks on Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran. Saudi Arabia responded by announcing it was severing diplomatic ties with Iran over the attacks.

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