Breakdown: Saudi expels Iranian diplomats after cleric execution

Iran’s diplomatic presence has been given 48 hours to leave Saudi Arabia after protesters burned the Saudi embassy in Tehran. The protests were a response to the Sunni Kingdom’s execution of prominent critic Sheikh Nimr, a Shia leader popular among youth who called for elections in Saudi Arabia amongst by other reforms.

Diplomatic hacks will know that tensions have been high between the Sunni and Shia states for some time, but Saudi Arabia has lit sparks by taking a hard line both internally and externally in 2015. The monarchy has seen a marked increase in executions, and has been isolating itself from the international community with unwavering aggressive rhetoric towards its Shia neighbours.

The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations places the responsibility to protect embassy premesis on the receiving state, and this is not the first time Tehran has had difficulty upholding it’s end on that clause, infamously allowing US diplomats to be taken hostage in the 1970s in what is now known as the Tehran Hostage Crisis. This trip down memory lane with the burning of the Saudi Embassy was recalled by Iranian President Rouhani’s condensation of attacks on the diplomatic premesis, calling them “unjustifiable”.

Iran has been trying to play ball with the international community in 2015, striking landmark nuclear accords negotiated with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Our timeline of the breakdown in Tehran-Riyadh relations outlines the central causes and impacts of the New Year Crisis.

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