A plane took off from the Iranian airport heading for Dubai and some of the passengers were VIPs, members of the Saudi diplomatic mission who in direct response from the Saudi leadership took the flight to the UAE and were escorted off the plane by the Emirati officials.
When the flight was in the air and after the safety of the Saudi diplomats was ensured, the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Jubair called for an emergency press conference in his office to declare the Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom persona non grata and that he had been ordered to leave the country within 48 hours (requesting the envoy to leave the country amounts to expulsion).
To guarantee the implementation of the request the Iranian embassy, consulate and other affiliated offices were shut down and the Iranian diplomat left in compliance with the announcement. During the conference the Saudi minister disclosed the Saudi diplomats had been recalled from Tehran and diplomatic ties been severed.
Following this the Saudi authorities continued with other procedures and even issued a decision barring its citizens from travelling to Iran and suspended all commercial flights between both countries except those carrying the Iranian pilgrims only to perform hajj.
The courageous decision taken by Saudi Arabia is unprecedented but justified due to the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad. To add insult to injury the missions were ransacked and torched by the mob.
In spite of the open denial and anger expressed by the Iranian government for these incidents, they were not convincing enough. It is difficult to stomach the Iranian angry statement and government denial! This is because a country like Iran is well-known for such behavior so it is impossible to look at these incidents as mere coincidence and that everything happened without the knowledge of the government in Tehran and that it did not take part in these mob celebrations.
It is a glaring fact that Saudi Arabia has fully understood this incident and that was why it took disciplinary action against Iran. Even the apology offered by the Iranian government to the UN was like pouring water on an empty vessel.
The attack on Saudi diplomatic mission in Tehran was in reaction to the execution of Nimr Al-Nimr after the court in Saudi Arabia found him guilty based on the law of the land — Islamic Sharia.
The country also put to death 46 other people apart from Al-Nimr most of whom were Sunnis. Al-Nimr was not the only to die, the issue was not at all sectarian in nature, but it is obvious Al-Nimr has a special place in the hearts of the Iranians. This is the reason why the response was so fierce!
After the Saudi penal procedures against Iran, the Kingdom of Bahrain took a simple step of showing solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in reaction to the continuous Iranian interference in its affairs.
Within a few hours, the Republic of the Sudan followed suit in solidarity with Saudi Arabia. I heard Pakistan also has boarded the Sudan plane.
Moreover, the United Arab Emirates has announced it is cutting to size its diplomatic representation in Iran and Kuwait’s Cabinet has condemned the chaotic and violent activities by Iran which have violated diplomatic norms.
However, Kuwait has also recalled its ambassador from Tehran sending a clear message to the government in Iran that such practices — attack against Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad was unwelcome.
Seemingly, other countries will follow suit against the Iranian government.
The US Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone call to his Saudi counterpart tried to calm the situation. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov also tried to calm the situation, suggesting a meeting in Moscow between the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Iranian counterpart. The suggestion seemingly was not accepted.
France did the same through its president Franois Hollande but it seems the Saudi Arabian government is fed up and does not want to meet the Iranians at least at the current time.
The one who thinks that the Saudi step is an angry reaction is wrong. However, it was clear that the decision was taken after cementing the Saudi-Turkish relationship which has become strategic.
After that considerable progress was made in the Yemen war and the verdicts issued by the Saudi judiciary were enforced. It is apparent that the Saudi leadership did not behave in a rash manner. It handled the situation as per expectations.
Therefore, the Saudi procedures are arranged and programmed in liaison with facts. This clarifies the difference between Saudi Arabia and Iran in dealing with crises.
No sensible person seeks to wage a war which brings only destruction. In addition, all parties are losers except the weapons traders and politicians. Therefore, I hope Iran will pledge to turn a new leaf and adhere to sincere relations with the entire region not only the GCC countries.
The region includes several critical files which need decisive solutions and Iran holds the trump cards in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. After it failed to achieve a decisive victory for its alliance in Syria and the Russian interference to rescue the regime of Al-Assad, Iran afforded painful defeats in Yemen. Moreover, its policy in Iraq is not balanced while in Lebanon it is half and half.
Consequently, Iran has to stop interfering in the internal affairs of the countries of the region because it does not benefit the Iranian economy.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken the necessary steps and put the ball in the Iranian court for it to prove its good intentions with deeds.
By Yusuf Awwad Al-Azemi