Iran-Saudi crisis deepens
January 05 2016 01:20 AM
FOCUS
IRAN

Agencies/Riyadh/Bahrain

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Sudan followed ally Saudi Arabia’s lead in severing or downgrading ties with Tehran over a growing diplomatic row with Iran.
Bahrain and Sudan cut off diplomatic links with Iran yesterday, and the UAE downgraded its ties with the Islamic republic.
Riyadh meanwhile stepped up its own measures against Tehran, with Saudi Arabia’s General Civil Aviation Authority announcing that airlines had been instructed to stop all flights to and from Iran.
The diplomatic fallout came only hours after the Saudi government broke off relations with Tehran, where protesters had stormed the Saudi embassy on Saturday night.
The UAE said Iran needed to stay out of Arab affairs and not act like a protector of Arab Shias. “The Arab world isn’t a venue for its blatant interference ... Iran does not have guardianship or jurisdiction over a large number of Arabs for some sectarian reason,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.
Bahrain has announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Iran and asked all the members of the Iranian diplomatic mission Manama to 
leave the country within 48 hours. 
Bahrain also decided to close its diplomatic mission in Tehran and to withdraw of all members of the mission. 
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry yesterday summoned the acting charge d’affaires in the Iranian embassy in Manama, Mortadha Sanubari, and handed him an official memorandum thereon. 
Sudan on Sunday announced it has decided to expel the Iranian ambassador and the entire mission in solidarity with Saudi Arabia in the face of Iran’s plots. 
According to Sudan News Agency, a statement of the Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that the move came against the background of the brutal attack on Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad. 
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that Iran had a long-track record of violating diplomatic missions. 
Al-Jubeir underlined at a news conference on Sunday that these attacks fell under “Iran’s familiar historic policies, which aim to destabilise the region.” 
The Cairo-based Arab League said it would hold an emergency meeting at Riyadh’s request on Sunday to discuss the attacks on Saudi diplomatic premises and Iranian interference. 
As international worries grew, US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Iranian and Saudi Arabian counterparts, US officials said. 
“We are urging calm and de-escalation. The situation needs to be calmed,” one official said. 
London, Paris and Berlin also expressed concerns, amid fears the dispute could derail efforts to resolve conflicts across the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen. 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke by phone with Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir and his Iranian counterpart, Mohamed Javad Zarif, stressing that continued engagement was “in the interest of the region and beyond,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Ban told al-Jubeir that breaking off diplomatic ties with Iran was “deeply worrying.”

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