Iran vows revenge on Saudi Arabia, compares them to ISIS after execution of Shi’ite cleric has region in flames
- Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister announces the end of relations with Iran
- Iranian diplomats given 48 hours to leave embassy in Saudi Arabia
- Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran set on fire after Shiite cleric executed
- It executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others by firing squad, beheading
- Iranian embassy in Saudi told to leave after Saudi was allegedly compared to ISIS by Iran in a controversial online meme
Saudi Arabia has broken off diplomatic ties with Iran following an attack on the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran, inspired by Saudi’s decision to execute 47 men including Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir announced the decision to expel Iran’s diplomats following the evacuation of its own diplomatic staff from Iran.
Iran’s diplomats have been given 48 hours to leave Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom’s foreign ministry accused Iran of failing in its duty to protect its embassy in Tehran.
A large mob attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran last night, setting the building on fire with petrol bombs and ransacking items from the Saudi diplomatic offices.
Iran’s Supreme Leader had vowed ‘divined revenge’ on Saudi Arabia after it executed 47 prisoners, including a prominent Shiite cleric, yesterday.
Its elite paramilitary unit, the Revolutionary Guard, compared the Sunni-ruled country to terror group ISIS and warned the ‘medieval act of savagery’ would lead to the monarchy’s downfall.
A controversial meme posted on an Iranian website, thought to belong to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, suggested the only difference between Saudi rulers and ISIS executioners was the clothes they wore.
Saudi Arabia claimed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the other executed prisoners, which include three other Shiite dissidents and a number of al-Qaeda supporters, were all convicted ‘terrorists’. It said Iran had ‘revealed its true face as a supporter of terrorists’ by condemning al-Nimr’s death.
The UK Government expressed its ‘disappointment’ at the mass executions carried out by Saudi Arabia which have triggered unrest in the region and led to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Riyadh and Tehran.
Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood said: ‘I am deeply disturbed by the escalation in tensions in the last 24 hours in the Middle East.
‘The UK is firmly opposed to the death penalty. We have stressed this to the Saudi authorities and also expressed our disappointment at the mass executions.’
The minister said he expected the kingdom’s government not to carry out the death sentence imposed on the cleric’s nephew Ali al-Nimr, who was just 17 when he was told he faced crucifixion over his role in the Arab Spring protests in 2012.
Mr Ellwood said: ‘We have discussed with the authorities in Riyadh, and expect that Ali Al-Nimr and others who were convicted as juveniles will not be executed. The UK will continue to raise these cases with the Saudi authorities.
‘We are deeply concerned to hear of the attack yesterday on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. It is essential that diplomatic missions are properly protected and respected.
‘There are those who will wish to exploit the situation and raise sectarian tensions higher. This would be against the wishes of the vast majority of those in the region. I urge all parties in the region to show restraint and responsibility.’
The escalating war of words came after a night of violence in the Iranian capital of Tehran, where a furious mob petrol bombed the Saudi embassy to protest al-Nimr’s killing. At least 40 were arrested on suspicion of attacking and setting fire to the embassy.
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki warned the executions would ‘topple the Saudi regime’, US and European said they risked ‘exacerbating sectarian tensions’, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was ‘deeply dismayed’.
Al-Nimr, the most vocal critic of the Saudi dynasty, was the driving force behind the protests which broke out in the east of the country in 2011, where the Shiite minority claims they are fiercely persecuted.
Khamenei condemned Saudi Arabia for the second straight day over his execution, saying: ‘The unjustly spilled blood of this oppressed martyr [al-Nimr] will no doubt soon show its effect and divine vengeance will befall Saudi politicians.’
The Revolutionary Guard yesterday promised ‘harsh revenge’ against Saudi Arabia’s royal dynasty, but its foreign ministry called for calm after protesters tried to burn down its embassy in Tehran.
None of the Saudi embassy staff were inside the building when demonstrators broke in and trashed the offices. They forced their way inside where they ransacked rooms, destroyed furniture and started fires before they were ejected by police.
Tehran’s police chief said an unspecified number of ‘unruly elements’ were arrested for attacking the embassy with petrol bombs and rocks overnight.
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