Obama, Abadi discuss Saudi execution of Shiite cleric

US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi discuss their “concerns” over Saudi execution of Shiite cleric for terror charges and attacks on Saudi embassy in Iran

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi (L) and US President Barack Obama shake hands after their bilateral meeting in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington April 14, 2015

US President Barack Obama and Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi have discussed their concerns over execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al Nimr for terrorism charges, as well as the attack on Saudi Arabian embassy in Iran.

Three other Shiite clerics were among 47 people, mostly suspected Al Qaeda members, who were executed by Saudi Arabia for terrorism charges on January 2 after thousands were detained following a series of attacks between 2003 to 2006 that killed hundreds.

The Saudi interior minister said 47 people were found guilty for both their involvement in attacks and “radicalized” ideology. 

The day after the executions, the Saudi embassy in Iran was attacked by protesters in response to the execution.

Flames rise from Saudi Arabia's embassy during a protests in Tehran on January 2, 2016

Riyadh in response cut diplomatic ties with Iran, while Saudi allies Bahrain, Sudan, Djiboiti and the UAE also downgraded its diplomatic team while Kuwait has recalled its ambassador to Iran.

Following the discussion between Obama and Abadi, the White House said in a statement that the two leaders have agreed on the need for all regional parties to demonstrate restraint, avoid provocative rhetoric or behaviour, and avoid a worsening of sectarian charges.

Some other countries including Germany and France also earlier expressed their concerns about the Saudi execution of Shiite cleric.

"The execution of Nimr al Nimr strengthens our existing concerns about increasing tensions and deepening rifts in the region," an official from the German Foreign Ministry said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan questioned the sincerity of critics of the Saudi execution on Wednesday, saying they had double standards. 

Stating that the execution of Nimr was "another issue," Erdogan said that executions are also carried out in Iran, the US and Egypt but they are not condemned, while executions in Saudi Arabia are.

TRTWorld and agencies