MANAMA, Bahrain, Bahrain is severing ties with Iran, following a similar action by Saudi Arabia after the Saudi execution of a Shia Muslim cleric.
Bahrain, led by a Sunni Muslim king but with a population largely Shia, orderedIranian diplomats to leave the country within 48 hours Monday. Saudi Arabia issued the same order Sunday. The actions were prompted by the execution last week of 47 people convicted and executed last week for terrorist-related crimes, including Sheikh Nimr, a Shia, whose death provoked demands for revenge by Iran. The Saudi embassy in Tehran was burned and looted in protest.
Both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are oil-rich countries with Sunni leadership who can reliably be seen as allies. Bahrain is an island country in the Arabian Gulf, linked by a highway with Saudi Arabia.
The Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran are major players in Middle Eastern politics and are backing opposing sides in Syria and Yemen.
In a weekend statement, the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “reiterates its principled, unflinching position in solidarity with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and all the necessary deterrent measures it takes to confront terrorism and extremism” and defended Saudi Arabia’s choice of “enforcing the sentences against the convicted individuals” who “spur unrest or play havoc with the stability and security of Saudi Arabia.”
Iran’s foreign ministry accused Saudi Arabia Monday of “continuing the policy of increasing tension and clashes in the region.”
It issued a statement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani saying, “I have no doubt that the government of Saudi Arabia has tainted its image among the countries of the world, especially Islamic countries more than before. This kind of action is in line with the policy of sectarianism and inciting terrorism and extremism in the region and the world which has led to instability in the region and created wars and conflicts.”
By Ed Adamczyk