Bahrain, Sudan sever ties with Iran following Saudi Arabia while UAE reduces number of diplomats, widening Middle East conflict

Bahrain and Sudan, both close allies of Saudi Arabia, have joined the kingdom and cut diplomatic relations with Iran, while the United Arab Emirates, another Saudi ally, has downgraded them.

In a statement, Bahrain said it was cutting relations with Iran “after the criminal cowardly attacks on the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad.”

Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said Khartoum was cutting relations with Tehran in “response to the barbaric attacks on the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad.” A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Emirates were downgrading ties with Tehran “in the light of Iran’s continuous interference in the internal affairs of Gulf and Arab states, which has reached unprecedented levels.”

Earlier, Saudi Arabia announced breaking off ties with Iran as tension escalated after Saudi executions. Saudi Arabia also said that it was halting all air traffic to and from Iran, and would ban its citizens from visiting, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir told Reuters on Monday. Iranian pilgrims, however, will still be welcome to visit Makkah and Madinah, Jubeir said in an interview, adding that Iran must behave like “a normal country” instead of “a revolution” and respect international norms before ties could be restored.

Although relations between Saudi Arabia, which is mostly Sunni, and Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, have never been warm, the tensions mark the worst deterioration in ties in recent years.

The head of Iran’s judicial system, Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli-Larijani, accused Saudis of wreaking havoc in the region. “The Muslim world today is witnessing numerous crimes [committed] by Saudis in different regions and in all [instances of] belligerency happening in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain, Saudis’ fingerprints and their support for terrorists are seen,” he said on Monday, according to Press TV.