Iran says it is committed to protecting foreign missions in its capital, but Saudi Arabia says it’s cutting diplomatic ties
Analysts say it’s an ominous sign in a volatile region
A key question: Could a war of words become a direct military conflict?
Iran is committed to protecting diplomatic missions, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the press Monday, and reiterated that there were no Saudi diplomats harmed — or even present — during an attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. He added, however, that Kingdom is looking for “excuses” to further harm the two countries’ formal relations.
“When it comes to protecting and also safeguarding and observing international commitments regarding protection of diplomatic missions Iran naturally has taken proper action and will continue to do so,” Jaberi Ansari, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.
He added that Iran had acted to hold perpetrators of the attack on the Saudi mission accountable, but accused Riyadh of using the incident to ratchet sectarian tensions between the two.
“The Saudi government is looking to seek for some excuses to pursue its own unwise policies to further tension in the region,” he said.
The two countries have long been at odds, but the comments come after Saudi Arabia kicked out Iran’s diplomats, saying the attack was the last straw.
It’s not uncommon for countries to boot officials when they’re at odds, but analysts say Saudi Arabia’s decision to sever diplomatic ties with Iran on the heels of its execution of Nimr al-Nimr, the Shiite cleric, could be an ominous sign that something much more serious is in the offing.
“The diplomatic rupture between Saudi Arabia and Iran could easily spiral out of control,” said Fawaz Gerges, chair of contemporary Middle Eastern studies at the London School of Economics.
Read more: Oil rebounds after Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran
Here are some key questions looming in light of the latest developments:
Could the diplomatic war of words boil over?
It had — even before Saudi Arabia announced its decision to cut ties with Iran, Gerges said.
“Their conflict is playing out on Arab streets big time,” he said.
Already the two nations were on opposite sides of conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Lebanon. Now, he said, the question is how much worse things might get.
“The situation is extremely volatile between the two most powerful states in the Gulf, Sunni-dominated …Read More
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