UN, US and Turkey call on Saudi Arabia, Iran to ease tension

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on Iran and Saudi Arabia to ease tension, as Security Council condemns Iran over setting fire to Saudi embassy in Tehran by angry protesters in reaction to Riyadh’s execution of prominent Shia cleric

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Smoke rises from Saudi Arabia's embassy during a demonstration in Tehran.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has phoned the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran to urge both countries to avoid actions that could further exacerbate tensions following the recent Saudi executions, the attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran and the rupture in diplomatic ties.

A day after Ban Ki-moon's phone call to the sides, the UN Security Council (UNSC) strongly condemned the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

“The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran, and its Consulate General in Mashhad in the Islamic Republic of Iran, which resulted in intrusions into the diplomatic and consular premises, causing serious damage,” said the council statement.

Emphasising “deep concern” over the attacks, the council “called on the Iranian authorities to protect diplomatic and consular property and personnel, and to respect fully their international obligations in this regard.”

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran after Iranian protesters overran and set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran and the consulate in Mashhad on Sunday.

Council members urged Iranian and Saudi authorities to “maintain dialogue and take steps to reduce tensions in the region.”

However, the UNSC did not touch on the execution of a prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al Nimr.

Saudi Ambassador Abdallah al Mouallimi had earlier called the UNSC to “take all appropriate measures to ensure the inviolability of diplomatic facilities and the protection of all Saudi diplomats in Iran.”

Saudi Arabia also backed the execution of 47 men including Nimr, in a letter to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that they were “granted fair and just trials without any consideration to their intellectual, racial or sectarian affiliation," according to AFP.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al Jubeir said on Monday that his country's actions against Iran will extend to cutting flights, trade and commercial relations and banning its citizens from travelling to Iran.

Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday announced its concerns over the attacks on Saudi Arabia's mission in Tehran.

The ministry, in a statement published on its website, underlined that diplomatic and consular missions buildings are entitled to full immunity.

"States which approve this article of the Vienna Conventions are obliged to provide security of such buldings," the ministry read in a statement.

"From this perspective, the attacks on the Saudi missions in Tehran and Mashhad are unacceptable."

Turkey on Monday called Iran and Saudi Arabia to reduce tensions and said that the hostility among both Muslim powers would only heat up problems in the region.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said in Ankara's initial reaction to the crisis that "The region is already a powder keg... Enough is enough. We need our peace in the region."

The United States also condemned the attacks on the Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran.

State Department spokesperson John Kirby told reporters, "We note reports that some of the perpetrators of these attacks have been arrested, and we urge the government of Iran to fully respect its international obligations to protect diplomatic property.”‌

Additionally, international fears are increasing over the Saudi-Iranian division and the high tension could ruin peace efforts in Syria and Yemen.

TRTWorld and agencies