Bahrain announced Monday that it is severing diplomatic ties with Iran, hours after its ally and neighbor Saudi Arabia broke off relations with Tehran. Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran heightened after the Sunni Muslim kingdom executed a top Shiite cleric despite several warnings from Iran.
"Bahrain decided to break off diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and calls upon all members of the mission to leave the kingdom within 48 hours," Bahrain's Minister of Media Affairs Isa al-Hamadi said, state news agency BNA reported, according to Reuters. Bahrain's government reportedly accused Iran of "blatant and dangerous interference" in the internal affairs of Arab countries and support for terrorism.
Violence erupted in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others over the weekend. The kingdom's embassy in Tehran was ransacked and a consulate was attacked elsewhere in Iran.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir announced late Sunday that the country was cutting relations between Riyadh and Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomatic personnel to leave the country in 48 hours.
An Iranian official denounced Saudi Arabia's move to cut diplomatic ties.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said Monday that Saudi Arabia's execution of Nimr was an example of the kingdom stoking tensions in the region, the Associated Press reported.
Ansari reportedly alleged that "Saudi Arabia sees its interests and even its existence in continuing tensions and clashes,” and that the kingdom "tries to resolve its domestic problems through projecting and exporting them abroad."
An Iranian lawmaker also reportedly said that the end of Riyadh-Tehran relations could force the Islamic Republic to stop sending pilgrims to the annual hajj.
"When a country has cut diplomatic relations with us, it means it is hostile with us,” lawmaker Mohammad Ali Esfanani, spokesman of the Judicial and Legal Committee of the Iranian parliament, said Monday, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency. He also said that "it appears that protection [of pilgrims] and security issues will prevent hajj from taking place."
Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates said it will downgrade its diplomatic ties with Iran, media reports said citing the state-run news agency WAM, adding that the country will call its ambassador to Tehran home and cut the number of diplomats in the country.
Sudan also decided to expel Iran's ambassador after Saudi Arabia and Bahrain ended diplomatic relations.