Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran, since according to the Saudi government, Iranian security deliberately waited a full 12 hours before attempting to save the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
The attacks began in earnest Saturday evening when word that Saudi Arabia had executed prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr hit the streets. The Saudi government alleged Nimr had been involved in sedition during the so-called Arab Spring that threatened various seats of power across the Middle East.
Saudi officials became aware that a plot was underway to kill its embassy staff almost immediately after Nimr’s execution. Protesters gathered in the afternoon in front of the embassy, at which point Saudi officials local in Tehran wired the Iranian government, asking for protection as soon as possible.
But protection didn’t come for 12 hours, the Free Beacon reports.
Protesters started throwing incendiary bombs at the building Saturday evening. Saudi officials again at 2:30 a.m. desperately called for help, only to be met with silence. Iranian security forces finally arrived later Sunday morning after the building was badly burned. That delay was long enough to sour relations between the two countries.
“Iran negligently allowed angry mobs to assault Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic facilities and had plenty of warning time in which to prevent an attack,” the Saudi government said, according to the Free Beacon.
Saudi Arabia severed ties and demanded Sunday that Iranian diplomatic staff leave the country in 48 hours.
According to Iran, Saudi Arabia is simply using the embassy attack as an excuse to make relations worse, noting that no diplomats were injured.
“Iran has acted in accordance with its (diplomatic) obligations to control the broad wave of popular emotion that arose,” foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said, according to Business Insider.
“Saudi Arabia benefits and thrives on prolonging tensions… (It) has used this incident as an excuse to fuel the tensions,” Ansari added.
Since then, Sunni-dominated Bahrain and Sudan have joined Saudi Arabia in cutting diplomatic ties to Iran. The United Arab Emirates announced that it’s downgrading diplomatic relations. While the U.S. State Department has passively urged dialogue, Moscow has offered itself as a mediation service to try and bring Saudi Arabia and Iran to the discussion table.
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