Escalation with Iran after Saudi executes Shiite cleric

Iranian protesters raise their fists in front of a portrait of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration against his execution by Saudi authorities, on January 3, 2016, outside the Saudi embassy in TehranSaudi Arabia’s execution of a leading Shiite cleric reflects an assertive but risky new approach that threatens to escalate its proxy wars with arch-rival Iran in Syria and Yemen, experts said Sunday. Hours after the Sunni-ruled kingdom announced Saturday’s execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a driving force behind anti-government protests in 2011, angry demonstrators set fire to its embassy in Shiite-dominated Iran. In response, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced Sunday that Riyadh was severing diplomatic ties with Tehran and said all Iranian diplomats must leave the kingdom within 48 hours.

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