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Saudi Arabia Orders All Iranian Diplomats to Exit Country

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Saudi Arabia has reacted to the burning of its embassy in Iran by cutting off all diplomatic relations with the country.

From the New York Times:

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BAGHDAD — Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday and gave all Iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom, as escalating tensions over the execution of an outspoken Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia marked a new low in relations between the two Middle Eastern powers.

The surprise move, announced in a televised news conference by Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, followed harsh criticism by Iranian leaders of the Saudi execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran by protesters in response.

Mr. Jubeir said that the kingdom would not allow Iran to undermine the kingdom’s security.

The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Saturday that Saudi Arabia would face divine vengeance for the execution of Sheikh Nimr, a day after Iranian protesters ransacked the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia, which put the cleric to death in a mass execution of 47 men accused of terrorism-related offenses, fired back, saying Iran had “revealed its true face represented in support for terrorism.”

The heated rhetoric underscored the mounting tensions between the two powers, each of which considers itself the leader of the Islamic world and supports opposing sides in conflicts across the region.

Setting off this round of recriminations was the Saudis’ execution on Saturday of Sheikh Nimr, a Shiite cleric from eastern Saudi Arabia who often criticized the Saudi royal family and called for Shiite empowerment. Skeikh Nimr had become a leader in Shiite protests, and the government accused him of inciting violence.

Most of the reaction to the execution in the region broke cleanly along sectarian lines, with Shiite leaders in Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and elsewhere criticizing the Saudis for killing a man they called a peaceful dissident while Saudi Arabia’s Sunni allies applauded what they called the country’s efforts to fight terrorism.

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