The United States is urging a de-escalation of tensions in the Mideast in the wake of a heated diplomatic dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Saudi Arabia has severed diplomatic relations with Iran; Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit; and the United Arab Emirates has downgraded diplomatic relations.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran intensified this past weekend after Saudi Arabia executed 47 individuals-–including Shi’a cleric Nimr Baqr al-Nimr. Iran denounced his execution and violent protests broke out inside Iran. Protestors ransacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and set it on fire.
Regarding the executions by Saudi Arabia, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby said that the United States “continue[s] to urge the government of Saudi Arabia to ensure fair and transparent judicial proceedings in all cases,” and that the United States has expressed “particular concern over the execution of Shi’a cleric Nimr al-Nimr.”
Mr. Kirby also condemned the attacks on Saudi diplomatic properties in Iran, saying that “we take attacks on diplomatic properties very seriously.” He noted reports that some of the perpetrators of these attacks have been arrested and called on Iran “to fully respect its international obligations to protect diplomatic property.”
On the severing of diplomatic relations, State Department Spokesperson Kirby emphasized the need for diplomatic engagement, strong bilateral relations, and direct conversations “to work through differences.”
“Increased frictions,” Mr. Kirby said, “run counter to the interests of all those in the international community who support moderation, peace and stability.” The United States, he added, “reiterate[s] the need for leaders throughout the region to re-double efforts aimed at de-escalating regional tensions…so that we can all continue to work on resolving the pressing issues in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere throughout the Middle East.”