Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia has cut diplomatic ties with Iran due to the storming of its embassy in Tehran on Saturday after the execution of a prominent opposition Shiite Muslim cleric. The announcement was done by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir on Sunday.

Protesters in Iran broke into the Saudi embassy after the execution by Saudi Arabia of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric. People made their way into the Saudi embassy and trashed the ground floor of the building, tearing apart Saudi flags, furniture and documents, setting fires and throwing papers from the roof as an act of protest. The police were forced to use tear gas to disperse the protesters.

Diplomatic tensions rise between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the execution of 47 men, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric. Credit: Adhrb.org

Saudi Arabia claimed the execution of 47 prisoners, which also included Al-Qaida detainees, as part of a justified war on terrorism, but Iranian politicians warned that the Saudi monarchy would pay a heavy price for the death of al-Nimr.

Adel al-Jubeir accused the Iranian authorities of not taking any measure to prevent the attacks against the embassy in Tehran. He said he had informed the UN Security Council of the attack on the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran late Saturday. He added that Riyadh said the kingdom would not allow the Islamic republic to undermine its security.

Now, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister announced the end of diplomatic ties with Iran and asked all Iranian diplomats to leave within 48 hours.

“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. The ambassador has been summoned to notify them,” he said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian answered the Saudi Arabia’s decision saying that by cutting diplomatic ties, Riyadh could not cover up its major mistake of executing Sheikh Nimr.

The United States responded to Saudi Arabia’s decision by encouraging diplomatic engagement to calm tensions. The Obama administration officially said they were aware of reports that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had ordered the closure of Iranian diplomatic missions in the Kingdom and that they believed diplomatic engagement and direct conversations remained essential in working through differences.

Source: NBC News