January 4, 2016
The international community is calling for calm in the Middle East as tensions rise between Saudi Arabia and Iran after the Saudi government executed 289 people, including a prominent Iranian Cleric.
The killings led to hundreds of Iranians storming Saudi Arabia embassy in Tehran, and setting it on fire, according to news report, which led to Saudi government severing ties with Iran.
The White House said the recent tensions between the two powerhouses in the Middle East is concerning and called for both governments to exercise restraints, urging them to “deescalate the situation and to not further inflame tensions in the region.”
White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said U.S. Secretary John Kerry and other U.S diplomatic officials have been in touch with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
“We do continue to be concerned about the need for both the Iranians and the Saudis to deescalate the situation in the Middle east; that we’re urging all sides to show some restraints and to not further inflame tensions that ate on quite vivid display in the region. Secretary Kerry has been in touch with his Iranian counterpart, U.S. diplomatic officials in Saudi Arabia have been in touch with their counterparts to convey this message.”
Analysts say the incident dealt a serious blow to ongoing political peace and civil war ceasefire process in Syria and put the recently signed Vienna Agreement signed by U.S. and Iran on life support for the time being.
Both countries are major allies of the U.S. in the region. Saudi has been a major oil supplier to the U.S.
Iran, on the other hand, has unique precarious relationship with the U.S. Last year, after several months of negotiations, the Obama administration brokered a deal with Iran on nuclear weapon programs in an attempt to curb Iran’s nuclear activities in the region. Iran violated the Vienna Agreement in December when it tested one of its missile programs, leaving many in the region and the international community anxious.
The Obama administration initially wanted to issue new sanctions after Iran violated the Vienna agreement, but pulled back on imposing new sanctions on Iran’s ballistic nuclear test program.
The White House said “we will impose those sanctions at a time and place of our choosing when our experts believe they would have the maximum impact. And those decisions are not subject to negotiation by the Iranians or anybody else for that matter. they are actually -those decisions made based solely on the conclusion of our financial experts about ensuring that those penalties have the maximum impact.”
Political analysts say the recent tension, which came a few days after the Saudis announced a austerity measures about oil prices, is due in part to people’s fear and insecurity in the Middle East, particularly in Iran, where those who are against the Vienna Agreement are using it as a way to bolster their own agenda ahead of the upcoming election in Iran in February. Many also believe that the root cause of a lot of tension outbursts in the Middle East is in fact due to sectarian issues between the Sunis and Shia.
However, it is hopeful that the recent tensions would not affect or influence the painstaking diplomatic work and effort made by the U.S. and the international community to bring stakeholders to the table to bring about a political resolution to the situation inside of Syria.
The White House agreed with this assessment. Spokesperson said “A lot of the volatility and instability in the Middle East has a tendency to break down along sectarian lines. It’s not a coincidence. And we believe that there is more that can be done by people on all sides to try to bridge those divides in a way that advances the interests of countries all across the region.”
Both Saudi and Iran have vested interests in making the civil war and political crisis in Syria end, which the White House said would be in the best interests of both countries to resolve their differences quickly.
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