As Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran, questions loom in volatile region – CNN

Story highlights
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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Congressmen Say DOJ's Interpretation Of Their Medical Marijuana Amendment … – Huffington Post

The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses.The DOJ believes the law only stops it from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement, portions of which were previously published in the Los Angeles Times. “Consistent with the Department’s stated enforcement priorities, we don’t expect that the amendment will impact our ability to prosecute private individuals or private entities who are violating the Controlled Substances Act.”But Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the co-sponsors of the historic amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, told The Huffington Post that the department is incorrect in its understanding of the law.
“The congressman believes the amendment’s language is perfectly clear and that the DOJ’s self-referential interpretation is emphatically wrong,” said Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubs.Farr also had strong words for the DOJ.“The Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment defies logic,” he said. “No reasonable person thinks prosecuting patients doesn’t interfere with a state’s medical marijuana laws. Lawyers can try to mince words but Congress was clear: Stop going after patients and dispensaries.”Farr also took to Twitter to criticize the DOJ’s view of the law:@billjpiper, @TheJusticeDept lawyers can try to parse words but Congress was clear: Stop wasting funds/resources prosecuting patients!— Congressman Sam Farr (@RepSamFarr) April 2, 2015Although the DOJ has slowed its crackdown of medical marijuana, it continues to target some dispensaries, including multiple shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February, the congressmen, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), wrote a letter publicly condemning the DOJ for “overstepping its bounds” by trying to shut down the Oakland, California-based Harborside Health Center — widely considered to be the largest and one of the most well-respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation. “The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency.”To date, 23 states have …Read More

Congressmen Say DOJ's Interpretation Of Their Medical Marijuana Amendment … – Huffington Post

The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses.The DOJ believes the law only stops it from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement, portions of which were previously published in the Los Angeles Times. “Consistent with the Department’s stated enforcement priorities, we don’t expect that the amendment will impact our ability to prosecute private individuals or private entities who are violating the Controlled Substances Act.”But Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the co-sponsors of the historic amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, told The Huffington Post that the department is incorrect in its understanding of the law.
“The congressman believes the amendment’s language is perfectly clear and that the DOJ’s self-referential interpretation is emphatically wrong,” said Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubs.Farr also had strong words for the DOJ.“The Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment defies logic,” he said. “No reasonable person thinks prosecuting patients doesn’t interfere with a state’s medical marijuana laws. Lawyers can try to mince words but Congress was clear: Stop going after patients and dispensaries.”Farr also took to Twitter to criticize the DOJ’s view of the law:@billjpiper, @TheJusticeDept lawyers can try to parse words but Congress was clear: Stop wasting funds/resources prosecuting patients!— Congressman Sam Farr (@RepSamFarr) April 2, 2015Although the DOJ has slowed its crackdown of medical marijuana, it continues to target some dispensaries, including multiple shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February, the congressmen, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), wrote a letter publicly condemning the DOJ for “overstepping its bounds” by trying to shut down the Oakland, California-based Harborside Health Center — widely considered to be the largest and one of the most well-respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation. “The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency.”To date, 23 states have …Read More

Congressmen Say DOJ's Interpretation Of Their Medical Marijuana Amendment … – Huffington Post

The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses.The DOJ believes the law only stops it from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement, portions of which were previously published in the Los Angeles Times. “Consistent with the Department’s stated enforcement priorities, we don’t expect that the amendment will impact our ability to prosecute private individuals or private entities who are violating the Controlled Substances Act.”But Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the co-sponsors of the historic amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, told The Huffington Post that the department is incorrect in its understanding of the law.
“The congressman believes the amendment’s language is perfectly clear and that the DOJ’s self-referential interpretation is emphatically wrong,” said Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubs.Farr also had strong words for the DOJ.“The Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment defies logic,” he said. “No reasonable person thinks prosecuting patients doesn’t interfere with a state’s medical marijuana laws. Lawyers can try to mince words but Congress was clear: Stop going after patients and dispensaries.”Farr also took to Twitter to criticize the DOJ’s view of the law:@billjpiper, @TheJusticeDept lawyers can try to parse words but Congress was clear: Stop wasting funds/resources prosecuting patients!— Congressman Sam Farr (@RepSamFarr) April 2, 2015Although the DOJ has slowed its crackdown of medical marijuana, it continues to target some dispensaries, including multiple shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February, the congressmen, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), wrote a letter publicly condemning the DOJ for “overstepping its bounds” by trying to shut down the Oakland, California-based Harborside Health Center — widely considered to be the largest and one of the most well-respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation. “The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency.”To date, 23 states have …Read More

Congressmen Say DOJ's Interpretation Of Their Medical Marijuana Amendment … – Huffington Post

The lawmakers behind a recent congressional amendment protecting medical marijuana operations in states where the drug is legal strongly rebuked the Department of Justice for trying to continue to crack down on some medical marijuana businesses.The DOJ believes the law only stops it from “impeding the ability of states to carry out their medical marijuana laws,” department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said in a statement, portions of which were previously published in the Los Angeles Times. “Consistent with the Department’s stated enforcement priorities, we don’t expect that the amendment will impact our ability to prosecute private individuals or private entities who are violating the Controlled Substances Act.”But Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Sam Farr (D-Calif.), the co-sponsors of the historic amendment that prohibits the DOJ from using funds to go after state-legal medical marijuana programs, told The Huffington Post that the department is incorrect in its understanding of the law.
“The congressman believes the amendment’s language is perfectly clear and that the DOJ’s self-referential interpretation is emphatically wrong,” said Rohrabacher spokesman Ken Grubs.Farr also had strong words for the DOJ.“The Justice Department’s interpretation of the amendment defies logic,” he said. “No reasonable person thinks prosecuting patients doesn’t interfere with a state’s medical marijuana laws. Lawyers can try to mince words but Congress was clear: Stop going after patients and dispensaries.”Farr also took to Twitter to criticize the DOJ’s view of the law:@billjpiper, @TheJusticeDept lawyers can try to parse words but Congress was clear: Stop wasting funds/resources prosecuting patients!— Congressman Sam Farr (@RepSamFarr) April 2, 2015Although the DOJ has slowed its crackdown of medical marijuana, it continues to target some dispensaries, including multiple shops in the San Francisco Bay Area. In February, the congressmen, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), wrote a letter publicly condemning the DOJ for “overstepping its bounds” by trying to shut down the Oakland, California-based Harborside Health Center — widely considered to be the largest and one of the most well-respected medical marijuana dispensaries in the nation. “The Justice Department is ignoring the will of the voters, defying Congress, and breaking the law,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement Thursday. “President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder need to rein in this out-of-control agency.”To date, 23 states have …Read More