As it unfolds: Saudi Arabia executes prominent Shiite cleric, escalating tensions with Iran


Saudi Arabia executed 47 people on Friday

  • Among them was a prominent Shiite cleric, accused of terror offences.

Iran led the condemnation of the killing

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saudi Arabia would face 'divine revenge' for executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr - the Saudi embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters over the weekend. *

Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic ties with Iran

  • On Sunday, Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry said it had ordered all Iranian diplomatic personnel to leave the country within 48 hours. *

Allies of Saudi Arabia also acted against Iran

  • Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates were among the kingdom's regional allies who took varying diplomatic actions against Tehran. 

Iran accused Saudi coalition of hitting its embassy in Sanaa

  • Tehran claimed an airstrike damaged its embassy in the Yemeni capital, although some reports question the accuracy of the Iranian's complaint. 

Deputy crown prince gives interview to The Economist

  • Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince and defence minister, Muhammad bin Salman, has given an interview to The Economist. 
  • Mr. bin Salman defended the execution of 47 prisoners last weekend and insisted the court that convicted them did not make a distinction between whether a person was Sunni or Shiite. 

  • The deputy crown prince said Saudi Arabia did not want a war with Iran, saying it would be a ' a major catastrophe' for the Middle East. 

Middle East tensions: Kuwait recalls ambassador from Tehran

  • Kuwait recalled its ambassador to Tehran on Tuesday, becoming the latest ally of Saudi Arabia to take diplomatic action against Iran following the storming of the Saudi embassy over the weekend. 
  • The crisis was sparked by the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shiite cleric, over the weekend for alleged terror offences.  

  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saudi Arabia would face 'divine revenge' for the killing. 

  • Yesterday, UN chief Ban-Ki moon called on Iran and Saudi Arabia to avoid any actions that could further exacerbate the situation. +

The regional response


Stampede near Mecca kills 717


Questions over management of the mass migration..

  • Saudi Arabia's civil defence said on Twitter that a further 863 people were injured in the crush on Wednesday morning, which happened in Mina near the holy site of Mecca as pilgrims took part in the annual hajj. 

  • Two weeks ago, over 100 people were killed when a crane collapsed on worshippers near the Grand Mosque in Mecca.