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Cutting ties cannot cover ‘big crime’: Rouhani

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Tehran “cannot cover its crime” of executing prominent Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr.

Riyadh on Sunday severed relations with Iran after its embassy in Tehran was set ablaze during protests against Saudi Arabia’s execution of Nimr, who was put to death along with 46 other mostly Sunni convicts on terrorism charges.

“The Saudi government has taken a strange action and cut off its diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran to cover its crimes,” Rouhani said on Tuesday in a meeting with Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, reported by Iran’s official IRNA news agency.

“Undoubtedly, such actions can’t cover up that big crime,” he added.


Rouhani’s comments are the latest in an escalating diplomatic row between regional heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia that has raised international concerns over peace efforts to end the wars in Syria and Yemen – the nations support opposite sides in the two conflicts.

The Saudi ambassador to the UN said on Monday, though, that the severing of the ties “should have no effect” on attempts to end the wars.

“We will continue to work very hard towards supporting the peace efforts in Syria, in Yemen, wherever there might be a need for that,” Abdullah al-Mouallimi told reporters in New York.

“How is that going to affect the behaviour of Iran, we do not know, you will need to ask the Iranians for that,” added al-Mouallimi, accusing Tehran of not being supportive of attempts to find peace before this latest falling out between the two nations.

“They have been taking provocative and negative positions and lines, and as such I don’t think that the breaking of relations is going to dissuade them from such behaviour.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Kuwait became the latest country in the region to back Riyadh, recalling its ambassador to Iran over the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic mission.

Bahrain, Sudan and the UAE have also rallied to Saudi Arabia’s side, breaking off or downgrading relations with Iran in recent days.

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of using the attack on the embassy as a pretext to fuel tensions.


On Sunday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement criticising both the executions and the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

The US government also expressed public fears over the escalating war of words.

“We do continue to be concerned about the need for both the Iranians and the Saudis to de-escalate the situation,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

“We are urging all sides to show some restraint and to not further inflame tensions that are on quite vivid display in the region.”

Turkey said that it hoped the tension would diminish “as soon as possible”.

“The region is already engulfed by a circle of fire, it can no longer bear bigger crises,” said Numan Kurtulmus, Turkey’s deputy prime minister.

“As a country which has friendly relations with Iran and Saudi Arabia, we believe that both countries should show restraint.” Al Jazeera

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    In 2014, Saudi Arabia executed at least 90 people, according to Amnesty, while Human Rights Watch put the figure for last year at 158. Iran used the death penalty even more frequently, executing at least 289 people in 2014, said Amnesty.

    AlNimr was executed under the felony murder rule, which states, all participants in a murder are equally guilty, regardless if they pulled the trigger, financed the murder, or drove the getaway car. Iran's screeching shows me Iran was far more involved in AlNimr's activities than they are willing to admit publicly. Saudi should release to the press all the intelligence intercepts collected from ANimr.

  2. fahiem, the following is not personal, just observations, your anti shia takfiri and pro salafi wahabi taliban al qaeda al nusra isis (until some of you about-turned on isis) stance is legend
    next, your a disgrace to your mubarak suname whether of north central or eastern extraction or even the jewish/zionist spelling you prefer, youre also a disgrace to the south african sense of justice weve been able to develop since 1994

    mmm you like to quote amnesty international? at least we can take them seriously not so?

    we can tackle iran and other countries regarding their high incidence of executions on another occasion but the issue here is sheikh nimr baqir al nimr!!
    please drop your saudi blinkers and revisit your inside information from your saudi sorces, your prejudice and conspiracy theory without a shred of evidence is appalling….

    amnesty international together with more than ten other worldwide human rights organisations testify among other considerations that sh nimr :

    was abducted and arrested without an arrest warrant
    he was shot without having taken recourse to armed offence
    his bullet wounds werent treated until months later
    he was kept jailed for months without being charged
    he wasnt allowed adequate legal support
    he was tortured
    he wasnt allowed to counter the charges
    hes trial was grossly flawed
    the charges included vague ones such as "disobeying and breaking allegiance to the ruler", "calling to overthrow the regime", "calling for demonstrations", " inciting sectarian strife", " questioning the integrity of the judiciary"," meeting with and supporting wanted suspects", "interfering in a neighbouring state's affairs" (bahrain),

    most of the above charges actuall criminalise the peaceful exercise of basic human rights and others violate the principle of legality in international law because theyre vague

    futhermore sh nimr was not allowed access to court documents and evidence against him.
    he was prevented from speaking to the state controlled trial media who libelled him with smear campaigns
    the media without evidence called him illiterate uneducated and an advocate of violence

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