By Al Jazeera,
Saudi Arabia has announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Iran following Saturday’s attack on its embassy in Tehran during protests.
Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, made the announcement on Sunday while the foreign ministry announced that it would ask the Iranian diplomatic mission to leave the kingdom within 48 hours.
The Saudi foreign ministry also announced that the staff of its diplomatic mission had been evacuated and were on their way back to the kingdom. Reports said the plane carrying the Saudi staff have landed in Dubai, United Arab Emirtes.
At a press conference in Riyadh, Jubeir said that during Saturday’s protests in Tehran, the Saudi diplomatic representative there asked for help from the Iranian foreign ministry, but the requests were disregarded three times.
Calling on the attack of its embassy in Tehran as an act of “aggression”, Jubeir said that Iran has a history of “violating diplomatic missions” citing the attacks of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the British embassy in 2011.
“These ongoing aggressions against diplomatic missions are a violation of all agreements and international conventions,” he said, adding that they are part of an effort by Iran to “destabilise” the region.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Beirut, Lebanon, Joseph Kechichian, a Middle East analyst, said the Saudi decision was “quite a surprise”.
“This is an escalation that will create havoc in the region,” he said, referring to the latest developments.
Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the Saudi decision was likely to have repercussions in the region, particularly concerning the Syrian negotiations.
“Western powers must increase efforts to safeguard this process and encourage the Saudis and Iran to continue participation [in the Syria peace talks],” she told Al Jazeera from London.
“These events further set back the urgently needed rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh, and spell further trouble for an already fragile region.”
On Saturday, Saudi announced that it had carried out the execution of 47 “terrorism” convicts, most of them Sunnis but also included a high-profile minority Shia religioius leader Nimr al-Nimr and a al-Qaeda leader Faris al-Zahrani.
Saudi had accused al-Nimr of leading anti-government protests in the country’s east and for inciting violence.
Al-Nimr’s execution then triggered protests in a number of countries, including in Iran, where demonstrators broke into the Saudi embassy and started fires overnight.
On Sunday, Saudi’s Jubeir accused Iranian authorities of being complicit in the attacks.
Asked what other steps Saudi will take against Iran, Jubeir said “we will cross each bridge when we will get to it”.
“We are determined not to allow Iran to undermine our security.”