Jan 04, 2016
By Jane Brown
Saudi Arabia has announced it’s severing diplomatic relations with Shiite powerhouse Iran, amid escalating tensions over the Sunni Kingdom’s execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.
The move comes hours after protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, and follows harsh criticism by Iran’s top leader of the Saudis’ execution of the cleric.
The Saudi Foreign Minister says Iranian diplomatic personnel have 48 hours to leave and all Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran have been called home.
The mass execution of the cleric and 46 others reflects the sectarian divisions gripping the region. It also illustrates the Kingdom’s new aggressiveness under King Salman.
“We’re at a precipice again, because I think the world was surprised that the cleric was executed. It was an issue when he was arrested. By all accounts he’s not a terrorist like some of the Al-Qaida terrorists who were executed. Many people thought that he may receive a jail sentence. When he was executed with them, this shows a significant hardening of the Saudi position and this will produce the kind of reaction that we’re seeing,” says Munk School of Global Affairs’ Tom Axworthy to CP24.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister Stephane Dion says Canada is condemning Saudi Arabia’s mass execution of the cleric and 46 other terror suspects, and is urging the Kingdom and Iran to work together to defuse tensions and promote reconciliation.