Rift deepens between Saudi Arabia and Iran

Rift deepens between Saudi Arabia and Iran
By Keith Walker with Javad Montazeri, AFP
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Further demonstrations against Saudi Arabia have taken place in Iran as the diplomatic rift between the two regional rivals grows. Riyadh and Tehran


Further demonstrations against Saudi Arabia have taken place in Iran as the diplomatic rift between the two regional rivals grows.

Riyadh and Tehran were already hostile towards each other over an ongoing conflict in Yemen where Saudi-led fighters are battling against Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Last weekend Riyadh executed prominent Shi’ite cleric Nimr Bakir al-Nimr unleashing a wave of anger from Shi’ite Iran against Sunni Saudi Arabia.

Saudi diplomatic buildings in the Iranian cities of Tehran and Mashhad were attacked and set on fire following the beheading. Iran’s government condemned the
attacks and called for the highest penalty for the wrongdoers.

On Thursday (January 7), Iran announced that its embassy in Yemen has been attacked by Saudi fighters.

Although Saudi has not admitted responsibility for the attack, Arab coalition spokesperson Ahmad al-Asiri claimed that the Houthis have used abandoned embassy buildings for military purposes. However, he said he would investigate Iran’s claims.

‘Israel and US responsible for all crimes against Muslims’

During weekly prayers in Tehran on Friday (January 8) influential cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani told worshippers that Riyadh, along with Israel and the United States, was responsible for “all crimes committed against Muslims”.

“The Zionist regime plans, the US supports and Saudi Arabia sources the necessary funds,” Kashani said, according to state news agency IRNA.

“The attack on the Saudi embassy was led from behind the scenes by a group of insiders from the enemy itself,” Kashani said. “By doing so, they wanted to put the ball in our court, then hold their hands up and end relations. They also used ignorant people.

Attacking the Saudi embassy is condemned and its agents are all criminals, which is why the government, judiciary, and the parliament condemed it from the start,” added Kashani.

Iranians hold fresh anti-Saudi protests https://t.co/cVEsDXpcwbpic.twitter.com/gZtfuSxnxy

— Press TV (@PressTV) January 8, 2016

‘Death to Al-Saud’

Around 1,000 demonstrators crowded Tehran on Friday chanting “death to Al-Saud” — Riyadh’s ruling family, according to an AFP photographer.

Others shouted “death to America” and “death to Israel”, frequent rallying cries at demonstrations in Iran.

Russia offered to intervene in the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, but Riyadh declined. The Iraqi foreign minister also mentioned the proposal, but has not provided a definitive response.

A foreign ministry official, who wanted to remain anonymous, told euronews that the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran does not require intervention by a third party, and, if necessary, the two countries will negotiate directly with each other.

Iranians due to go on trial in Saudi Arabia

In a development that could further strain relations, Saudi media reported Friday that four Iranians would go on trial in the kingdom, one for spying and the other three for “terrorism”.

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