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Fanning the Flames: Saudi Arabia 'Deliberately Provoked' Conflict With Iran

© AFP 2021 / ISNA / MOHAMMADREZA NADIMI Iranian protesters gather outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016
Iranian protesters gather outside the Saudi Embassy in Tehran during a demonstration against the execution of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi authorities, on January 2, 2016 - Sputnik International
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After protesters attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate in Mashhad, Riyadh broke off diplomatic ties with Iran. At the same time, this move has reaffirmed the importance of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Saudi Arabia deliberately provoked the crisis in its ties with Iran. However, the move has proved the importance of the Iranian nuclear deal for the international community, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), said.

Last Sunday, Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran after protesters attacked its embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad. The protests came after prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was executed by Riyadh. Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia have been longtime rivals in the region.

"Recent geopolitical trends in the regions have been in contradiction with Saudi Arabia’s interests for over a decade. The rise of Iran as well as Washington’s decision to hold talks with Tehran on its nuclear dossier additionally fueled Riyadh’s panic. Al-Nimr’s execution was a deliberate provocation. It was likely aimed to spark a crisis and maybe even war to change the regional geopolitical balance," Parsi said.

According to him, Saudi Arabia realized the execution would destabilize the region and have a negative effect on its ties with Iran.

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"In turn, the unjustifiable arson of the Saudi embassy in Iran gave Riyadh a pretext to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran as well as to hinder the US-led diplomatic efforts in Syria and Yemen," Parsi pointed out.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly threatened to wreck the talks on the Syrian and Yemeni settlement if Iran were included in the process. Finally, Iran joined the Vienna negotiations on Syria, at the behest of other parties.

"For Washington, Riyadh’s actions justify the deal on the Iranian nuclear program reached in 2015. The agreement has had a very important result dissembled by the Obama administration. It would cut Washington’s reliance on Saudi Arabia. After the US settled the nuclear standoff and turned back to talks with Tehran it has strenghtened its positions in the region," the expert explained.

Protesters holding posters of Saudi Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr and a Bahraini national flag protest against his execution by Saudi authorities in the village of Sanabis, west of Manama, Bahrain January 3, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Now, Saudi Arabia is trying to drag the US in its rivalry with Iran.

"But it is clear that Washington would better balance between Saudi Arabia and Iran and not take full responsibility for Riyadh’s reckless escapades," Parsi concluded.

Earlier, the US expressed concern over the escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran and called for both countries to maintain diplomatic communication channels.

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