The diplomatic crisis surrounding Saudi Arabia and Iran widened yesterday as Kuwait recalled its ambassador to Tehran and Bahrain severed air links in the face of growing international concern.
Joining Riyadh and its Sunni Arab allies in taking diplomatic action, Kuwait said it was withdrawing its envoy over a weekend attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Kuwait’s move came after the UN Security Council strongly condemned the attack by protesters angry over Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric.
A Kuwait Foreign Ministry source said in a statement that such action constitutes a flagrant breach of international conventions and violation of Iran’s international commitment over security and safety of diplomatic missions on its lands, according to Kuwait News Agency.
Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on Sunday, angered by Tehran’s vehement criticism, as well as the storming of its embassy.
Riyadh’s allies in Bahrain and Sudan followed suit the day after, while the United Arab Emirates recalled its ambassador and said it was downgrading diplomatic relations.
The six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states said it would meet in Riyadh on Saturday for talks on the embassy attacks, a day before an Arab League emergency meeting.
GCC Secretary General Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid al-Zayani said that the emergency meeting, to be chaired by the Saudi foreign minister, will discuss the attacks on Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran.
Turkey added its voice to calls for calm, saying that Saudi Arabia and Iran were “the two most important countries of the Islamic world” and must find a way to reduce tensions.
“The political tension between these two countries can’t contribute to peace in the region, which already resembles a powder keg,” said Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus in a Twitter post.
Islamic heavyweights Pakistan and Algeria have already joined the EU and US in calling for reconciliation, amid fears that the dispute will hamper peace efforts in Yemen and Syria where the two Gulf powers support rival sides to the conflicts.
UN special envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, who met with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed al-Jubeir in Riyadh yesterday, said there was a “a clear determination on the Saudi side that the current regional tensions will not have any negative impact on” the Syria peace process.
Syria peace talks are due to resume on January 25, in a process that for the first time brings both Saudi and Iran to the negotiating table.
Iran, along with Russia, is the main outside backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Meanwhile, Arab League Secretary-General Dr Nabil al-Arabi condemned the bombing of three mosques in Iraq.
These terrorist bombings represent flagrant aggression on worship places and a desperate attempt to compromising the unity of the Iraqi people, said Dr al-Arabi in a statement yesterday.
The statement urged all the Iraqi parties to maintain solidarity in the face of terrorist organisations and other forms of extremism and to keep the unity of the country, stressing the importance of Iraqi government’s efforts in the current battle to eradicate terrorism.
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