Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of destabilizing region

Saudi Arabia Sunday accused Iran of destabilizing the region and stirring sectarianism amid growing tensions between the two rivals.

Relations between Riyadh and Tehran soured last week when Iran condemned Saudi Arabia's execution of dissident Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, a fiery critic of the kingdom's Sunni authorities.

Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran, angered by Tehran's vehement criticism of the execution and the storming of its embassy in Tehran.

"These attacks [on the embassy] are a flagrant breach of international charters," Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told an Arab League meeting held in Cairo on the crisis.

"This reflects Iran's behaviour in the Arab region and its attempt to stir sectarianism and shake security and stability."

At the end of the meeting, the Arab League foreign ministers condemned the attack on the Saudi embassy. "The Arab countries stand united with Saudi Arabia," a final statement read.

The statement did not announce a specific action against Iran, but said that a four-nation committee has been formed to discuss the crisis.

After the talks, al-Jubeir told reporters: "If Iran is interested in good neighbourliness, it is welcome. But if it goes ahead with its course of action, we will not stay silent."

Saudi Arabia and Iran back opposite sides in wars in Syria and Iraq.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Sunday that the diplomatic crisis with Saudi Arabia would not affect a political process aimed at ending Syria’s civil strife.

"We will continue to act responsibly and constructively in solving the Syrian conflict," Zarif said while meeting UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura in Tehran.

Zarif criticized what he called the Saudi government’s policy of creating "turmoil" in the region, saying it was undermining the diplomatic process on Syria.

The current row between Saudi Arabia and Iran is their worst since 1988 following deadly clashes between Saudi security forces and Iranian pilgrims, prompting a three-year severance of ties between Riyadh and Tehran.

Last update: Sun, 10/01/2016 - 19:54

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