On Wednesday, the Sunni nations of Qatar and Djibouti announced they would be severing diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran, becoming the 9th and 10th nations to officially cut relations, roll back ties, or condemn the Shiite theocracy in the past week.
Qatar and Djibouti join Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, and the UAE as states that have either downgraded or completely ended official relations with Iran in the past week. More Sunni states, such as Jordan, Oman, and Egypt, have served official statements critiquing the Iranian regime.
The Sunni-Shia spat comes following Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, who was accused of trying to overthrow the House of Saud and foment revolution. After the New Year’s Eve execution, Iranian rioters firebombed and ransacked Saudi Arabia’s consular buildings in Tehran, infuriating Riyadh. Saudi Arabia immediately took action, breaking off diplomatic ties.
The Qatari government said in a statement Wednesday in the state-run Qatar News Agency:
Qatari Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled today Qatar’s Ambassador to Tehran following the attacks on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and general consulate in Mashhad, said Director of Asian Department at the Foreign Ministry HE Khalid bin Ibrahim Al Hamar.
The Qatari foreign ministry called the attack on the Saudi diplomatic quarters a “violation of international charters and norms that ensure the security and protection of diplomatic missions and their members.”
Djibouti, a U.S. ally in East Africa, also said it was cutting relations with Iran, according to a report in Al Arabiya.
Bahrain officials claimed Wednesday that they had stopped an Iranian-backed terror plot inside of the country. “A secret terrorist plot aided by the so-called Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the Hezbollah terrorist organization was foiled,” Bahrain’s state-news network BNA reported.
The UAE and Kuwait have partially downgraded diplomatic relations with Tehran. Kuwait has recalled its ambassador from Tehran, while the UAE downgraded relations.
Even before the Sunni-Shiite escalation following Nimr’s death, the Saudis and Iranians remained at odds over several geopolitical issues. The two countries continue to find themselves on opposite sides of the civil wars in Syria and Yemen, arming and aiding proxy forces that seek to rule those countries.