Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran and ordered diplomats and delegates to leave the kingdom within 48 hours – and shortly after, several other nations followed suit.
Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told a group of reporters in Riyadh that Saudi Arabia was not going to allow Iran to undermine its security, and referenced the storming of its embassy in Tehran, Reuters reported.
Iranian protesters, angry at the execution of a Shiite Muslim cleric, rushed the Saudi embassy in Tehran over the weekend, while Ali Khamenei, the country’s ayatollah, vowed “divine vengeance,” Reuters reported.
“The kingdom, in light of these realities, announces the cutting of diplomatic relations with Iran and requests the departure of delegates of diplomatic missions of the embassy and consulate and offices related to it within 48 hours,” Jubeir said, Reuters reported. “The ambassador has been summoned to notify them.”
Iran responded with an angry message on state television.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said the severing of diplomatic ties doesn’t mean Riyadh could gloss over its “major mistake of executing [cleric] Sheikh Nimr,” Reuters reported.
The White House issued a brief message, via an aide to President Obama, calling to a return to diplomacy between the two nations.
“We believe that diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remain essential in working through differences and we will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions,” the aide said, Reuters reported.
Other nations have weighed in, as well.
Bahrain, citing Tehran’s “blatant and dangerous interference” in Arab matters, severed diplomatic ties with Iran. The United Arab Emirates said it was “downgrading” diplomatic relations with Iran, “in light of Iran’s ongoing interference in internal GCC and Arab affairs that has recently reached unprecedented levels,” the country said in a statement reported by CNN.
Sudan’s government booted the Iranian ambassador and Iran’s whole diplomatic mission, and recalled its own ambassador from Tehran. And Russia and China called on the countries to reel in their tensions.
“Moscow is concerned about the escalation of the situation in the Middle East with participation of the key regional players,” Russia’s foreign ministry said, adding both sides ought to “show restraint … to avoid any steps that might escalate the situation and raise tensions, including an inter-religious one.”
China’s foreign ministry said similarly, calling for “all parties [to] remain calm and restrained, use dialogue and negotiations to properly resolve differences and work together to safeguard the region’s peace and stability,” CNN reported.