News — 19 January 2016

On January 2, Riyadh executed top Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, inciting a response in Tehran, where the Saudi embassy was stormed by protestors.

Saudi Arabia produces more than 10 million barrels of oil daily and exports more than seven million barrels per day.

“For the past two-and-a-half years, Saudi Arabia has opposed Iran’s diplomacy”, Zarif said at a joint press conference in Tehran with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. But anger could be felt in the hall, as videos showed mourners shouting: “Death to the Al Saud”, a reference to the royal family. On Saturday, Iranian protesters set the Saudi embassy in Tehran on fire.

FILE – In this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016 file photo, Iranian demonstrators burn representations of the US and Israeli flags during a demonstration in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Tehran, Iran.

The Iraqi government is trying to walk a middle line between Iran and the Sunni-ruled Arab countries in order to keep momentum against Islamic State, said Mona Alami, a Beirut-based analyst at the Atlantic Council think-tank. “There is much more at stake than just bilateral Saudi-Iranian relations”. “Whether you approve or not of the decision is a separate issue”, Erdogan said in a televised speech, his first reaction to the controversy which has raised tensions between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran.

Other sources said there could be also a rise in attacks on Shiite mosques, mainly in Iraq and Lebanon.

The Saudi government had accused al-Nimr of links to terrorism and inciting violence, despite reports that the Saudi religious figure was peaceful.

The airstrike claim by Iran came on Thursday afternoon, when its state-run news agency said a Saudi-led airstrike the previous night had hit the Iranian embassy in Sanaa, citing Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Gulf officials have spoken instead of possible Iranian attempts to fuel instability in the region by attacking Saudi and Arab interests.

In recent days, hundreds of people have reportedly been marching nightly in protest at Nimr’s execution in his predominantly Shia home district of Qatif.

Protesters also attacked the Saudi consulate in the city of Mashhad in northwestern Iran, with police intervening after rocks and Molotov cocktails were thrown at the building.

Iranian woman holds up a poster showing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr a prominent opposition Saudi Shiite cleric who was executed by Saudi Arabia in Tehran Iran. Diplomatic tensions between Saudi Arabia and Ira

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