Saudi Asks Iran to “Cease and Desist From Interfering” to Fix Ties

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was executed by Saudi Arabia last week creating tension between the two countries.  

2 min read
Iranian women hold up Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr’s poster in a protest of his execution by Saudi Arabia. (Photo: AP)

Global Reactions to Iran-Saudi Tension

  • China, crude oil importer, “highly concerned” with developments.
  • US and Germany call for restraint.
  • Russia offers to mediate an end to dispute.
  • Brent Crude oil hiked prices by 4 percent briefly, settling for a few cents lower.
  • Gulf Stock markets dropped sharply.

Saudi Arabia said on Monday it would restore ties with Iran when Tehran stopped meddling in the affairs of other countries, and pledged that Riyadh would continue to work “very hard” to support bids for peace in Syria and Yemen despite the spat.

Saudi Arabia cut all ties with Iran on Sunday following the kingdom’s execution of prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Protesters in Iran and Iraq marched for a third day to denounce the execution.

When asked what it would take for ties to be restored, Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi told reporters:

Very simple - Iran to cease and desist from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including our own. If they do so, we will of course have normal relations with Iran. We are not natural-born enemies of Iran.

On Monday, Bahrain and Sudan cut all ties with Iran, following Riyadh’s example. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that air traffic and commercial relations between the rival powers will also be halted.

Jubeir blamed Iran’s “aggressive policies” for the diplomatic action, alluding to years of tension.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), home to hundreds of thousands of Iranians, partially downgraded its relations with Iran, but the other Gulf Arab countries – Kuwait, Qatar and Oman – stayed above the fray.

A man was shot dead in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province late on Sunday, and two Sunni mosques in Iraq’s Shi’ite-majority Hilla province were bombed in the fallout from the dispute between the Middle East’s top Sunni and Shi’ite powers.

Shi’ite Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as an “excuse” to sever ties and further increase sectarian tensions. Analysts said fears of a sectarian rupture across the Middle East were premature, and the break in Saudi-Iran relations could be more a symptom of existing strains than evidence of new ones.

The downgrading of ties is not fundamentally a question of responding to executions and the storming of an embassy... (but rather) a function of a much deeper conflict between the two states

Julien Barnes-Dacey, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations

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