Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir announced the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's decision breaking off its diplomatic relations with Iran and requesting all personnel of its diplomatic mission (the embassy, consulate and other affiliated offices) to leave the country within 48 hours.
This came in a press conference the minister held at the foreign ministry's headquarters in Riyadh yesterday.
Briefing reporters on the details of developments of aggressive incidents incurred by the embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Tehran and its consulate general in the Iranian city of Mash-had, Ambassador Osama Nogali, the Head of the Information Department at the Foreign Ministry, said the Embassy in Tehran received several telephone calls on Saturday morning 22/3/1437H. threatening to kill its personnel; at 2:20p.m. on the same day, crowds of mobs started to gather in front of the embassy, triggering the Charge d'Affaires a.i. to immediately notify the Iranian foreign ministry of the development, demanding protection of the embassy, but in vain; at 9:30p.m. on Saturday 22/3/1437H., another crowd of demonstrators gathered in front of the embassy, hurling stones and incendiary bombs at the building; at about 2:00a.m. early dawn on Sunday 23/3/1437 H., it was noted that the first crowd was replaced by a new crowd whereas two members stormed the embassy and set parts of its ablaze; at nearly 2:30a.m. at dawn on Tehran standard time, the crowd stormed the embassy building with the Charge d'Affaires a.i. continuing contacting anew the foreign ministry but his calls went unanswered; the Charge d'Affaires a.i. tried to obtain secured protection to come and inspect the embassy headquarters but his request was not met until Sunday 23/3/1437H. in the late afternoon to find that the building was devastated and destroyed, its contents broken and devices, appliances and furniture robbed and stolen; at 3:30a.m. at dawn on Sunday 23/3/1437H., the electricity was cut off for one hour from the district in which the embassy personnel homes are located.
At the Saudi consulate in Mash-had, the following incidents took place:
At 11:00a.m. on Saturday 22/3/1437 H., a taxi forced its way across the security barrier of the consulate, attempting to storm the interior gate of the consulate without being prevented by the Iranian authority; at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday 22/3/1437 H., a crowd estimated at more than 2,000 persons gathered in front of the consulate building, hurling stones and incendiary bottles, leading to breaking some external glass windows of the building with a group of them trying to storm the building but failed combined with the negative response of the Iranian authorities which did not exert any effort to stop such criminal acts or arrest the involved.
It deserves mentioning that this is not the first time that the Kingdom's diplomatic mission in Tehran and Mash-had face such hostilities. Similar offenses have precedent in the past years before the very eyes and ears of the Iranian government without any measures taken to preserve the security and safety of the Kingdom's mission and its personnel or bringing the culprits to justice.
Accordingly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken the following measures:
First: The Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom was summoned on the evening of Saturday 22/3/1437H. at the headquarters of the Foreign Ministry and was given a strong protest note, holding the Iranian regime accountable of those attacks in its capacity as the host country required to provide the necessary protection for foreign missions according to international relevant agreements and laws.
Second: The Kingdom notified the United Nations Security Council of those hostilities as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and demanded the UN Security Council to guarantee the protection of diplomatic missions and their personnel according to international agreements and laws.
Third: All countries with which the Kingdom shares relations have been briefed on the hostile statements issued by the Iranian government, a provocation triggering the breaching of sanctity of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and the consulate general in Mash-had.
Fourth: Extraordinary measures were taken to evacuate some 47 dependants, including women and children, of the Saudi diplomats and officials in Iran. They were presumed to leave aboard the Emirates flight which departs at 7:20 p.m. on Tehran Standard Time but the Iranian authorities hindered their departure which was changed to a substitute flight at 10:00 p.m. this evening on Tehran Standard Time. At this moment, they are on their way en route home. In this regard, we express thanks to the United Arab Emirates for the help its rendered to evacuate the members of the mission from Iran. We also thank the GCC, the Arab League and a number of countries who vowed strong and firm positions against attacks targeting the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran.
In conclusion, let me reassure you that all members of the diplomatic mission and its personnel in Tehran and Mash-had are safe and nobody was subject to any harm, be them the departees or the stayers behind. We are keen to guarantee their security and safety through continuous follow-up.
Then, the Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir delivered the following speech:
'After having been briefed on the details of the hostilities which the Saudi diplomatic mission in Iran sustained, I would like to further inform you that the Iranian regime has a long record of violations of foreign diplomatic missions. I, herewith, cite the occupation of the U.S. embassy in 1979, the attack against the British embassy in 2011 and yesterday's offense against the Saudi Arabian embassy in Tehran and consulate general in Mash-had.
Such continual assault on diplomatic missions constitutes a flagrant violation of all international agreements, charters and treaties.
Also, these attacks come after aggressive statements issued by Iranian prominent figures, a blatant provocation that encouraged others to attack the Kingdom's missions.
These offenses are considered a continuation of the Iranian hostile policy in the region aiming at destabilizing the region's security and stability and spreading sedition and wars.
This matter is certain as the Iranian regime provides safe havens on its territories for Al-Qaeda leaders since 2001.
The Iranian regime has also provided protection for a number of the involved in Al-Khober Towers explosion in 1996.
In addition to these hostile attacks, the Iranian regime has managed to smuggle weapons and explosives, plant terrorist cells in the region, including the Kingdom, aiming to spread chaos and unrest.
The history of Iran is full of negative and hostile interference in Arab countries affairs, always accompanied with subversion, demolition and killing of innocent souls.
Upon these realities, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announces cutting its diplomatic ties with Iran and demands all the members of Iran's diplomatic mission (embassy, consulate and other offices affiliated to them) to leave within 48 hours.
The Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom was summoned to notify him of this development'.
Asked to comment on a suggestion that some Arab countries have turned victims under the Persian, Daesh and Al-Qaeda expansion trends and whether it is time to form a unified Arab force extending from the Ocean to the Gulf, Al-Jubeir rejected that Arab or Islamic countries have fallen a prey of Iran. This is incorrect, he said, adding that, on the contrary, reality indicates something else. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supports the formation of the joint Arab force and tried and worked to see the establishment of an Islamic military Alliance to combat terrorism and extremism to which more than 35 countries announced memberships. The alliance will have an operation room in Riyadh and will work on two paths: a military/security path and an intellectual path, he said. The purpose of this alliance is to assemble all the abilities of the Islamic world to confront terror and extremism from the security and military points of view through practical training as well as intellectual confrontation.
He said the Arab world is aware of the danger of Iran's interference in the affairs of the region.
There are a number of blocs in the Arab world region, he said, adding that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is keen enough to secure the security and stability of all the Arab countries and is very keen to confront the Iranian aggressive movements in the region.
He went on to say that he believes that Iran's interference would not serve the interests of Iran or the security and stability of the region.
I think there are good achievements done to curb Iran's attempts to spread its leverage over the region, he said, citing Iran's defeat in Yemen, in Syria where Russia intervened after the failure of Iran to salvage Bashar Al-Assad, in Iraq where a fierce popular resistance from all sects of Iraq against Iranian interference in the region is witnessed, an Iranian retreat in Africa is also noted, as well as in Asia and we see several responses in Islamic countries against Iran.
Asked to respond to the U.S. State Department's comment on the execution of Nimr Al-Nimr, Al-Jubeir said that we have already explained to the U.S. side that the Kingdom enjoys independent and just judiciary and it is not ready to accept any criticism to the independence of its judiciary system.
What happened is that some people were convicted of having staged terrorist actions leading to the killing of innocents. The suspects appeared before courts in an apparent and fair way with the courts convicting them after giving them all chances of defense at all litigation levels, he said, citing the outcome of the joint press conference between the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Interior.
Al-Jubeir said the matter is very simple. Some terrorists were convicted of having committed terror operations targeting the innocents. We don't accept any interference in the judiciary system of the Kingdom as we respect the judiciary systems of other countries and never interfere in them, he said, adding that any country who would like to clarify any point, will be given explanation.
Asked what else after cutting the relations and what are the steps to be taken had Iran opted to escalating this diplomatic crisis, Al-Jubeir said 'we are determined not to allow Iran to threaten our safety and security and will not allow it to implant terror cells in our countries or our allies. We have decided to severe our relations with a terror-sponsor country and we urge all countries to consider seriously whether they could tolerate sharing relations with a terror-sponsor country'.
Asked to comment on calls coming from some figures to hit the Kingdom's interests in Iraq, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom takes such threats as serious and has already contacted the Iraqi government in this regard. Baghdad vowed to provide protection to the Saudi diplomatic facilities, missions and diplomats accredited to Iraq.
However, the Kingdom is determined to proceed with its methodology of confronting terrorism in all its forms, he said.
He added that, as for the GCC countries and whether there would be a concerted GCC position towards Iran, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom has taken this decision unilaterally without coordinating with GCC countries in this regard.
However, there was a joint communiquأ© issued by the GCC secretariat general denouncing the Iranian position and intervention and its violation of the Saudi embassy and consulate in Mash-had, he recalled. There are also several positions announced by the GCC in support of the Kingdom's positions and rejection of Iran's practices. Also a number of countries in the world have supported the Kingdom and criticized Iran's position. So, every country is free to decide what it would do, he said, adding that the Kingdom categorically rejects dealing with a terror-sponsor country which killed innocents in the Kingdom, spread insurgence and sectarianism in the Middle East region and in the Islamic world, triggering the Kingdom to take this position.
Asked whether the Kingdom is going to sue Iran in the United Nations for such violations, Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom is studying all options available, be them at the Arab League or the Organization of Islamic Countries or the United Nations.
We are going to spare no effort to guarantee our rights, and the future steps of the Kingdom, he said, noting that the objective is to protect the interests of the Kingdom, the Saudi people, its territories and provide support and assistance to the Kingdom's ally countries so that they would not be harmed by Iranian negative practices.