On January 2, 2016, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people including prominent Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr on terrorism charges. The mass execution triggered a massive protest in Iran with crowds taking to the streets and attacking the Saudi embassy in Tehran. In response, Saudi Arabia severed its relations with Iran, and several other countries either followed the move or downgraded their diplomatic ties with Tehran.
Pakistan's political and military leadership is making major efforts to ease tensions between Riyadh and Tehran, which some have called a cold war, as Islamabad does not want to become a "battleground" for the two leading Sunni and Shiite nations, Arif Rafiq wrote for National Interest.
The rivalry between Saudi Arabia, led by a Sunni monarchy, and Shia-dominated Iran has long been one of the defining features of the Middle East, but it has recently deteriorated to a state that some describe as a cold war level of tension.
Nimr al-Nimr's execution has triggered a fierce response from Shiites and aggravated tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. However, there are signs showing that Tehran is not interested in escalating Saudi-Iranian tensions into a direct conflict.
Tehran has not broken diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a letter.
Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said that Lebanon does not agree with the statement of Arab League condemning Iran.
UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan calls on Arab states to assume a united and decisive position in regard to Iran.
Iran's Interior Ministry Spokesman Hossein-Ali Amiri has condemned the protesters attacks on Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran, claiming the deputy governor general of Tehran Province for security affairs has been dismissed, in this regard, due to the dereliction of his duties, local media reported.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of Gulf Arab States will hold an extraordinary ministerial meeting in Riyadh on Saturday, January 9 to discuss the repercussions of an Iranian protest attack on the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and the country’s General Consulate in Mashhad after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric by Saudi Arabia.
Prominent human rights groups have lashed out at UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond for “excusing” mass killings in Saudi Arabia, British media reported Friday.
Amid the ongoing political crisis between Saudi Arabia and Iran, everyone is trying to reconcile the two countries; but neither the United States nor France have enough diplomatic resources to do so. As things stand right now, Moscow can be the only one to solve the crisis between Riyadh and Tehran, Slate Magazine reported.
Although a relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran has already been strained for several decades, the most recent conflict might flare up with new force and destroy the last remaining threads of stability in the Middle East, US political journalist Matt Purple wrote for the National Interest.
Tensions between the leading Shiite and Sunni powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have dramatically escalated following the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, but whatever goals Riyadh is pursuing, it is hardly capable of countering Iran, a US think tank asserted.
Turkey has summoned Iran’s ambassador over the spread of reports by Iranian media drawing a connection between the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh, and the execution of a top Iranian Shiite Cleric by Saudi Arabia, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
In Saudi Arabia, ruled by a Sunni monarchy, oil is mostly located in regions populated by Shiites. This fuels Riyadh's "deepest fear" which involves Saudi Shiites seceding and allying their oil-rich regions with Iran, a Shiite theocracy, Jon Schwarz wrote for The Intercept.
Iran has decided to ban all product from Saudi Arabia after the two countries severed diplomatic relations.
Saudi Arabia’s rulers are conducting a deliberate and “well-thought-out” policy of provoking a crisis with Iran, experts told Sputnik.
US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi agreed that regional countries should avoid any provocative actions that could worsen sectarian tensions amid the recent thaw in Saudi-Iran relations, the White House announced in a statement.
Qatar has decided to recall its ambassador to Iran, following the same decision of a number of Gulf States.
According to Turkish Ministry for Foreign Affairs representative, the split between Saudi Arabia and Iran might lead to greater turmoil in the Middle East.