Saudis cut air links to Iran amid Western calls for restraint

January 6, 2016 5:07 am


An Iranian woman holds up a poster showing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr in Tehran. Photo / AP

defied the world by escalating its crisis with over
the execution of a prominent Shia cleric, severing commercial ties and
air links with the Islamic Republic amid a wave of retaliatory attacks.
al-Jubeir, the Saudi Foreign Minister, called for Iran to “act like a
normal country” as he announced that all flights to the country would
stop and all Saudi citizens banned from travelling there. Saudi Arabia’s
Arab allies, including Bahrain and Sudan, the latter once an ally of
Tehran, announced they were withdrawing their ambassadors.
there were signs of an international backlash against Riyadh’s hardline
position, which it justified as a response to Iranian vows of vengeance
for the death of the cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, and the storming by a
mob of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran.
British Prime Minister David
Cameron said he “condemned the death penalty” and had raised the case
with Riyadh. He said the row was “hugely concerning” for regional

The White House said that US officials had warned Saudi Arabia that executing al-Nimr would have “damaging consequences”.
the concerns that we raised with the Saudis have precipitated that kind
of consequences we were concerned about,” said Josh Earnest, spokesman
for President Barack Obama. Earnest called on both Iran and Saudi Arabia
to “show some restraint” so as to not further “inflame” the situation.
went further. Its Economy Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said it would
reconsider its weapons exports to the country, one of the world’s
biggest spenders on the international arms market. “We can see that it
was right to neither deliver tanks nor G36 assault rifles to Saudi
Arabia,” he said, referring to previous declined requests for arms
transfers. “Now we have to review whether we also need to evaluate
defensive armaments more critically in the future.”
In signs of
escalation on the ground, a man was shot dead and a child injured as
protesters in Nimr’s home town, Awamiya in Qateef province, clashed with
police. Security officials in in Iraq said uniformed men had detonated
explosives outside Sunni mosques in the Shia-majority Hilla region,
south of Baghdad, under cover of darkness.

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