Saudi Arabia cut off diplomatic relations with Iran Sunday in response to the assault of its embassy by Iranian rioters in the Iranian capital of Tehran.
The move is the most recent step in a series of escalating actions between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia’s execution of 47 prisoners Saturday, including prominent Shia Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr, sparked a diplomatic firestorm which eventually led to the burning of its embassy in Tehran.
“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,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Sunday during a news conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country and a U.S. ally, has been increasingly concerned with the growing influence of Shia Muslim Iran in the Middle East. These concerns eventually led to a meeting between King Salman of Saudi Arabia and President Barack Obama in September shortly after the nuclear deal with Iran was announced.
Obama assured Salman the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran regarding Iran’s nuclear program would not lead to a change in U.S. policy, and that the U.S. would continue to support Saudi Arabia.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei promised there would be “divine vengeance… [on] those cruel individuals” who killed al-Namir, who was a vocal opponent of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Sunni Al Saud family.
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