Saudi-Iran crisis widens as Kuwait recalls envoy

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday said Turkey was ready to do everything it could to help calm flaring tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

AFP| Last Updated: Jan 05, 2016, 20:54 PM IST
Saudi-Iran crisis widens as Kuwait recalls envoy
File photo - Iraqi Shiite protesters chant slogans against Saudi government as they hold posters showing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed in Saudi Arabia last week

Ankara: Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Tuesday said Turkey was ready to do everything it could to help calm flaring tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran, after Ankara expressed alarm over the consequences of the dispute between two key Muslim powers for the region.

"We expect all countries in the region to show common sense and take steps aimed at easing the tensions in the region," Davutoglu told his ruling party in a speech in Ankara.

"As Turkey, we are ready to make any effort to solve the problems between the two countries," he said, without specifying what this could entail.

The crisis began at the weekend when Saudi Arabia executed prominent Shiite cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr as well as 46 other convicts, prompting a furious reaction from Tehran.

Iranian protesters then ransacked the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Riyadh, Bahrain and Sudan severed relations with Tehran while Kuwait recalled its ambassador. Davutoglu said Turkey strongly condemned attacks against embassies.

"Whatever the reason, such attacks are unacceptable," he said. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said late Monday that the hostility between the two major Muslim powers would only further escalate problems in a "powder keg" region.

"Enough is enough. We need our peace in the region," he said.

Turkey`s relations with fellow mainly Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia have warmed considerably in recent months. Relations had been damaged by Saudi`s role in the 2013 ousting of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, a close ally of Ankara. In December, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Riyadh for talks with King Salman as well as key decision-makers crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef and deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia share the same vision over the conflict in Syria where they believe only the ousting of President Bashar al-Assad can bring an end to almost five years of civil war.

As Turkish ties with Riyadh have warmed, Ankara`s relations with Tehran have grown more tense, notably over Iran`s role in Syria -- where the Islamic republic supports Assad`s regime -- and over its burgeoning relations with Russia. But in a rare public criticism of Saudi Arabia, Kurtulmus emphasised that Turkey, which abolished the death penalty in 2004 as part of its bid to join the EU, was opposed to capital punishment.