DOHA, Jan 6, (Agencies): Qatar recalled its ambassador to Iran on Wednesday, state news agency QNA said, after allies Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut their ties with Tehran following attacks on Saudi missions by Iranian protesters, angered by the execution of a Shi’ite cleric. “The ministry summoned this morning Qatar’s ambassador to Tehran against the backdrop of attacks on the embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran …,” the agency quoted Khalid Ibrahim Abdulrahman Al- Hamar, the director of the Asian Affairs Department, as saying. Elsewhere, Djibouti cut diplomatic relations with Iran on Wednesday, its foreign minister said, in response to the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran by Iranian protesters.
The tiny Horn of Africa nation, which is home to the United States’ only military base on the African continent, joins Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan in entirely severing relations with Shi’ite Muslim Iran. “Djibouti cut its diplomatic ties with Iran out of solidarity with Saudi Arabia,” Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told Reuters in a text message.
Oman on Wednesday said it regretted the “unacceptable” attacks on Saudi missions in Iran but did not announce any measures against the Islamic republic, after some Gulf nations downgraded diplomatic ties.
The Omani reaction comes four days after protesters torched Riyadh’s embassy and its consulate in Iran over Saudi Arabia’s execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric accused of fomenting sedition in the Sunni-ruled kingdom.
The sultanate “expressed its deep regret” over the attacks, which it described as “unacceptable” in a foreign ministry statement published by the official ONA news agency. Oman stressed the “need to find new rules that prohibit any form of interference in the internal affairs of other countries.” The sultanate is known for its historically strong ties with Iran but is also a member of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia.
Media reports in Tehran said Oman’s foreign minister was expected in the Iranian capital on Wednesday. Jordan summoned Tehran’s ambassador on Wednesday to protest weekend attacks on Saudi missions in Iran that set off a diplomatic crisis. Amman expressed its “strong condemnation” of Saturday’s attacks by protesters on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Iran’s second city Mashhad, a foreign ministry spokesman told official news agency Petra. “The attacks on the Saudi embassy and consulate constitute a flagrant violation of international conventions,” the spokesman said. In Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday refused to condemn Saudi Arabia for its execution of 47 convicts including a prominent Shiite cleric, saying it was an “internal legal matter” of the kingdom. “The executions in Saudi Arabia are an internal legal matter. Whether you approve or not of the decision is a separate issue,” Erdogan said in a televised speech, his first reaction to the controversy which has raised tensions between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran. Erdogan had last month visited Riyadh for talks with King Salman and the political elite, in a new sign of Ankara’s warm ties with the kingdom.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim powers, share the same vision over the conflict in Syria where they believe only the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad can bring an end to almost five years of civil war. Meanwhile, tensions have increased between Turkey and mainly Shiite Iran, which along with Russia is the key remaining ally of Assad. The crisis began at the weekend when Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as well as 46 other convicts, prompting a furious reaction from Tehran. Iranian protesters then ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Riyadh, Bahrain and Sudan severed relations with Tehran while Kuwait recalled its ambassador.
Erdogan dismissed suggestions that the executions were aimed at provoking tensions with Shiite Muslims and also said the attack on the Saudi mission was “unacceptable”. “Only three (of those executed) were Shiites,” said Erdogan. He also questioned also “why the world did not react” to the condemnation of “thousands of people to death” following the ousting in Egypt of former president Mohamed Morsi, an ally of Ankara. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday urged Iran and Saudi Arabia to calm tensions, saying the hostility between the two key Muslim powers would only further escalate problems in an explosive region.
But Erdogan’s comments contrasted with those Monday by Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, who is also government spokesman, that “death penalties, especially ones that are politically-motivated, are of no help to making peace in the region.” In light of mounting regional tensions following attacks by Iranian demonstrators on the Saudi embassy and consulate in Iran, there have been growing calls and efforts by some regional, Islamic and international powers to ease out tensions.
GCC foreign ministers are scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting in Riyadh on Saturday to discuss recent attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran, amid fresh reports indicating imminent diplomatic mediation efforts will be exerted by regional stakeholders, namely Oman and Iraq, to try stem mounting tension between the two regional powers. In a press statement on Tuesday, GCC Secretary-General Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al-Zayani announced the planned special meeting of the GCC ministers, saying it will be chaired by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir. He indicated that the ministers will address recent attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashad.
Mobs had set fire and inflicted damage at the diplomatic missions’ buildings. The declaration about the forecast GCC ministerial meeting coincided with reports that the foreign ministers of Iraq and Oman are visiting Tehran to discuss the developing situation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. An Iranian Foreign Ministry source was quoted by the media as saying that the heads of the foreign ministries of Iraq and Oman, Ibrahim Jaafari and Yusuf bin Alawi, will discuss today with Iranian officials latest regional events, “particularly in regard to Irans relations with Saudi Arabia,” the unnamed source added. Relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and the republic of Iran have dramatically soured over recent execution of a number of convicts in the Kingdom namely Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, overshadowing the regional political spectrum. The tension deepened when mobs attacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran and set fires inside the premises. Riyadh quickly retaliated, severing ties with the Islamic Republic.