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Saudi Arabia severs ties with Iran as Mideast protests rage

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(CNN) First, one man’s execution spurred sectarian protests and violence in the Middle East. Now, it appears to have sparked a serious diplomatic rift.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Sunday that his country is severing ties with Iran. Iranian diplomats in Saudi Arabia have 48 hours to leave the country, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.

The two countries have long been at odds, but Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr Saturday kicked off a new round of sparring between them that analysts say could mark a dangerous shift in an already volatile region.

“I think you’re going to see a period of very harsh rhetoric, and the cutting of diplomatic ties comes at a very bad time. … This is Saudi Arabia saying, ‘The gloves are off,’ ” said Bobby Ghosh, a CNN global affairs analyst and managing editor of Quartz.

Al-Jubeir said his country was severing ties with Iran after an attack this weekend on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

That attack came after Saturday’s execution of al-Nimr, a fervent dissident against the Sunni Muslim Saudi royal family who called for their deposal during the Arab spring uprisings in 2011.

Read more at CNN.com…

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