Monday, January 04, 2016

Violence in Saudi Arbia...Sauds Wants Confrontation with Iran on Nimr Al-Nimr

Civilian killed in attack on police in Saudi cleric's village

Riyadh, Jan 4 - Gunmen killed a civilian and wounded a child when they opened fire on Saudi police in the home village of executed Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr, state media reported today.

Police came under "heavy fire" during the attack last night in the eastern village of Awamiya, the birthplace of the cleric who was executed on Saturday, said the Saudi Press Agency.
The shooting left a civilian dead and wounded an eight-year-old child, said SPA, without specifying if any police were among the casualties.

Security forces were scouring the area for the assailants, the agency reported, citing a police spokesman in oil-rich Eastern Province.

The execution of 56-year-old Nimr has fuelled tensions in the Middle East, with Shiite-majority countries expressing condemnation and the kingdom's diplomatic missions in Shiite-dominated Iran coming under attack.

The assaults on the diplomatic missions spurred the Sunni-ruled kingdom to sever ties with Shiite-dominated Iran, its long-time regional rival.

In recent years, the two countries have been divided over the war in Syria, where Iran is backing the regime, and the conflict in Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite rebels.

Thousands stage anti-Saudi demo in Tehran

Tehran, Jan 4 - Demonstrators took to the streets of Tehran for a third consecutive day of protests today after Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shiite cleric and broke off ties with Iran.

Some 3,000 demonstrators gathered in Imam Hossein Square in eastern Tehran, chanting slogans against Saudi Arabia's Al-Saud royal family following the kingdom's execution on Saturday of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.

His death has sparked fury among Shiites across the Middle East with protests erupting in several countries.
A mob on Saturday firebombed the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital and a consulate in second city Meshhad, triggering regional and international condemnation.

The assaults prompted Riyadh to break off diplomatic ties with Iran and order its diplomats to leave the kingdom. Saudi allies Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit and the United Arab Emirates downgraded its ties with Iran.

Some protesters today criticised Iran's foreign ministry, saying it should have taken the initiative and broken ties first with Riyadh over the execution of Nimr, a force behind 2011 anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia.

Others torched the flags of Israel, Iran's arch-foe, and of the United States which is one of Saudi Arabia's key Western allies.

The Saudi flag which bears the Islamic statement of faith -- words that are holy to all Muslims -- was not set of fire.

Hundreds of merchants from Tehran's Grand Bazaar also shuttered their shops and took part in the anti-Saudi protests.

Thousands protest against Saudi Arabia in Baghdad

Baghdad, Jan 4 - Thousands of supporters of a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric protested near the foreign ministry today to demand Baghdad sever ties with Saudi Arabia.

The demonstrators chanted slogans praising their leader Moqtada al-Sadr and condemning the execution by the Riyadh authorities of Saudi Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.

The execution on Saturday sparked outrage across the Shiite world and beyond, with leaders accusing Saudi Arabia of attempting to stoke tensions across the region.

"We demand that the Saudi embassy be closed down and all Saudi interests terminated," said Ahmad, one of the more than 5,000 protesters in central Baghdad.

The crowd, which had gathered near one of the entrances to the fortified "Green Zone" where the Saudi embassy is located, threatened to force its way in but was held back by organisers and riot police.

"Government, find a solution because today we will burn the embassy," the crowd chanted.

Protesters set fire to Saudi Arabia's embassy in Tehran on Saturday, leading Riyadh to break off diplomatic relations with Iran.

"We demand that the government close the Saudi embassy, kick out the ambassador and boycott all Saudi products and products from allied countries," said Hatem Oraid, a lawyer at today's demonstration.
The protest ended without any incident.

Iran-Saudi crisis deepens as diplomatic ties cut

Riyadh, Jan 4 - Tensions between Iran and its Sunni Arab neighbours reached new heights today as Saudi Arabia and its allies cut or downgraded diplomatic ties with Tehran in a row over the execution of a Shiite cleric.

Angry exchanges following Saudi Arabia's execution Saturday of prominent Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr erupted into a full-blown diplomatic crisis as Riyadh and then Bahrain and Sudan severed their relations with Tehran, the main Shiite power.

The United States and other Western nations urged calm, amid fears the dispute could derail efforts to resolve conflicts across the Middle East, from Syria to Yemen.

It has also raised concerns of an increase in sectarian violence, including in Iraq where two Sunni mosques were blown up overnight.

Saudi Arabia cut ties with Iran late yesterday, giving diplomats 48 hours to leave the country, after protesters set fire to its embassy in Tehran and a consulate in second city Mashhad.

Bahrain and Sudan followed suit today, as Moscow offered to act as an intermediary between Riyadh and Tehran.
The United Arab Emirates also downgraded its ties, recalling its envoy from Tehran and reducing the number of its diplomats in the country.

Iranian officials denounced the Saudi move as a tactic that would inflame regional tensions.
"Saudi Arabia sees not only its interests but also its existence in pursuing crises and confrontations and (it) attempts to resolve its internal problems by exporting them to the outside," foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari said.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are on opposing ends of a range of crucial issues in the Middle East, including the war in Syria -- where Tehran backs President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Riyadh supports rebel forces -- and Yemen where a Saudi-led coalition is battling Shiite insurgents.
The spike in tensions comes after Iran last year secured a historic nuclear deal with world powers led by the US sparking major concern in Riyadh, a longtime US ally.

Two Sunni mosques bombed, muezzin killed in Iraq

Hilla (Iraq) Jan 4 - Blasts rocked two Sunni mosques in central Iraq today, amid fears of renewed sectarian strife following Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, police and medics said.

Groups of men wearing military uniforms detonated explosives at two Sunni mosques overnight in the Hilla region, south of Baghdad, and a muezzin -- the person appointed to recite the Muslim call to prayer -- was shot dead near his home in Iskandariyah, the sources said.

In Hilla, about 80 kilometres from the capital, a police officer said the Ammar bin Yasser mosque in Bakerli neighbourhood was bombed after midnight.

"After we heard the explosion, we went to its source and found that IEDs (improvised explosive devices) had been planted in the mosque," the captain said.

"Residents said a group of people with military uniforms carried out this operation," he said, adding that 10 houses were also damaged.
The Al-Fateh mosque in a village called Sinjar, just outside Hilla, was also damaged in similar circumstances.
The police captain said three or four men in military uniforms were involved that bombing.

"They took advantage of the cold weather, there was nobody outside," he said.
A medical source in Hilla said three people were wounded in the explosions.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts, nor for the killing near the town of Iskandariyah, about 40 kilometres south of Baghdad.

A local councillor identified the slain muezzin of the Mohammed Abdallah Jabbouri mosque in Haswa as Taha al-Juburi.
"He was ambushed by unknown gunmen near his house," a source in Iskandariyah police said.

A doctor also confirmed his death.

Iskandariyah is part of a mixed Sunni-Shiite area south of Baghdad which was once dubbed "the triangle of death" and was badly affected by sectarian violence last decade.

Pushing back the Islamic State group in this region after the jihadists took over large parts of the country in 2014 was one of the priorities of the government and allied Shiite militias.

That was achieved in a few months and IS has been largely eradicated from the area but violence -- not just of a sectarian nature but also crime-driven -- has remained frequent.
Iraq's interior ministry condemned today's attacks, which it said were an attempt to incite civil strife but did not blame on any particular group.

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