Kuwait has become the latest country to downgrade its relations with Iran after recalling its ambassador, in a widening regional crisis over the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric and the ensuing attack on the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan have already severed diplomatic ties with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates has recalled its envoy.
Late on Monday, Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the United Nations said the row with Iran would not affect peace talks aimed at resolving the ongoing civil war in Syria, which has claimed over a quarter of a million lives in almost five years of conflict.
“We will attend the next Syria talks and we’re not going to boycott them because of Iran or anybody else for that matter,” said Abdullah al-Moallimi. “If we decide to boycott them it will have to be for a better reason than that.”
The two regional rivals are embroiled in a diplomatic spat sparked by Riyadh’s execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a Saudi cleric who encouraged demonstrations against the monarchy in the country’s Shia eastern province in the wake of the Arab spring uprisings. The killing inspired protests in Shia-majority areas in the Middle East and south Asia as well, and attacks on Sunni mosques in Iraq.
Iranian protesters attacked the kingdom’s embassy in Tehran, and Saudi Arabia retaliated by severing diplomatic relations, ordering Iranian diplomats to leave the country and ending commercial ties with the Islamic republic, as well as halting flights between the two countries.
The UN security council on Monday night strongly condemned the attack on the embassy, and urged the Iranian government “to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel”, while calling on both sides to reduce tensions.