Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic relations with Iran, while the Islamic Republic has responded in kind. The break came in the aftermath of the Saudi execution the Shi’te Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimron. Saudi Arabia is a majority Sunni Muslim country and the guardian of Mecca and Medina – Islam’s holy places – while Iran is a majority Shi’ite nation. Nimr was one of 47 persons to receive capital punishment by the Saudi government on charges of terrorism.

On January 3, protesters broke into the Saudi embassy in Tehran and set alight furniture inside in a violent takeover. Iranian police cleared them out and arrested 40 individuals, according to local media. Iran condemned both Nimr’s execution and the attack on the Iranian embassy. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said on television, "Iran has acted in accordance with its (diplomatic) obligations to control the broad wave of popular emotion that arose." He added, "Saudi Arabia benefits and thrives on prolonging tensions... (It) has used this incident as an excuse to fuel the tensions."

In a report at the Jerusalem Post, a source claimed that the Saudi government is not only exasperated with Iran but also the Obama administration for its perceived lackadaisical attitude to Iran’s depredations in the Middle East. Since the agreement struck by the U.S. and five other powers in July 2015, some governments on the Arabian peninsula are concerned that the U.S. will ignore them in order to put the nuclear deal with Iran into play.

The source said that Iran has continued to defy the West and sponsor terrorism: “…and no one is doing anything about it." The U.S., said the anonymous source, does nothing when Iran makes a move. In contrast, said the source, “…Saudi (Arabia) is actually doing something about it in Syria, in Iran and in Yemen." The source added, "The Saudis really don't care if they anger the White House."

"Obviously the Saudis and the US need to work together on quite a few issues. But it's an instance in which the Saudis (feel they) need to forge ahead on their own in their own best interests in terms of dealing with Iran in the region," said the source.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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