News by YKA Staff:
Tensions ran high in the Middle-East and the world over after Saudi Arabia went ahead with the proposed execution of a renowned Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr, along with several other dissidents.
While the general impression is that the executions were a Sunni revenge for similar executions in Iran – which is a top-ranking country when it comes to awarding capital punishment – some commentators pointed out that only four of those executed by Saudi Arabia were Shias.
While some claimed that Nimr al-Nimr was not an advocate of violence, others differed and alleged that he had been inciting his followers to violence. Commentators traced Saudi Arabia’s decision to go ahead with the execution of Nimr al-Nimr to its losing hand in Syria and Yemen, especially. In Syria, Iran has been backing the Shia regime of Bashar al-Assad, to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia which supports the rebels. In Yemen, Iran backs the Shia Houthi rebels whereas Saudi Arabia backs the Sunni-led government.
Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis as Riyadh and its Sunni Arab allies cut or reduced ties with Tehran, sparking global concern.
Following angry exchanges over Saudi Arabia’s execution of the prominent Shiite cleric, Riyadh and then Bahrain and Sudan severed relations with Tehran, the main Shiite power.
European countries and regional power Turkey voiced concerns over the row, while US Secretary of State John Kerry called his Iranian and Saudi counterparts on Monday and Moscow offered to act as an intermediary.
The UN envoy for Syria headed to Riyadh and Tehran to defuse tensions, and a US official said Washington was “urging calm and de-escalation”.
The crisis has also raised fears of an increase in sectarian violence in the Middle East, including in Iraq where two Sunni mosques were blown up late Monday and two people killed.
Saudi Arabia insisted at the United Nations, however, that the row would not affect efforts to resolve conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked Saudi Arabia and Iran to avoid actions that could further exacerbate tensions, as he expressed disappointment at the execution of cleric Sheikh Nimr Baqir al-Nimr and said the break in Saudi diplomatic ties with Iran was deeply worrying.
Secretary-General Ban phoned Saudi Foreign Minister Abel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to urge them to “avoid any actions that could further exacerbate the situation,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
In his call to the Saudi Foreign Minister yesterday, Ban reiterated his views on capital punishment, which he strongly opposes, and his disappointment at the execution of al-Nimr, whose case he raised with the Saudi authorities several times.
He also reiterated that the attack on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was deplorable, but added that the announcement of a break in Saudi diplomatic ties with Iran was deeply worrying.
With its large Muslim population, India also needs to be alert to any possibility of violence. Provocative statements were already being made on Indian social media regarding the situation.
Inputs by PTI.