Tuesday

17th Oct 2017

EU in telephone diplomacy on Saudi-Iran crisis

  • Mogherini and Zarif at Iran nuclear talks last year (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini has urged Saudi Arabia and Iran to avoid escalation over the Saudi execution of a Shia Muslim cleric.

Saudi authorities, on Saturday (2 January), hung and shot 47 people, including Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a Shia Muslim cleric, who had been arrested in 2004 on terrorism charges.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

He had taken part in anti-government protests, calling for democratic elections and for greater rights for the Shia minority in Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim state.

His killing comes amid a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Syria and Yemen, which dates back to Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the ensuing struggle for regional hegemony between Riyadh and Tehran.

But the sectarian rivalry has much deeper roots, going back to the Battle of Karbala 1,300 years ago.

EU states, in a joint statement on Saturday, said al-Nimr’s killing “raises serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the respect of basic civil and political rights”.

It added that the move “has also the potential of enflaming further the sectarian tensions that already bring so much damage to the entire region”.

Mogherini the next day phoned the Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif.

She told al-Jubeir she “deplored the attack” on the Saudi embassy in Tehran on Sunday and voiced “concern for the risk of an escalation of sectarian violence in the Muslim world”.

Her office said Mogherini and Zarif agreed that “the security and stability of the whole region … is at stake.”

The EU readout added: “The international community and the main regional actors are actively working together to support a political solution for the crisis in Syria and to join forces against terrorists groups, and these efforts should not be jeopardised by new instability.”

Saudi Arabia is a strategic ally and oil supplier to the EU and US and buys billions of euros of Western arms each year.

But it has long faced criticism for supporting radical Islamist groups in Syria and further overseas, including in Europe.

The EU and the US, last year, finalised a deal on nuclear non-proliferation with Iran, auguring a thaw in relations and increasing Iran’s political and economic weight.

Iran and Saudi Arabia have also joined a fragile, US-led coalition to fight against Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim group, in Syria and to orchestrate a political settlement in Damascus.

The Syrian war has prompted the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

More than 1 million people, most of them Syrian refugees, fled to the EU last year, creating internal tension on border security and burden-sharing which threatens to unravel the Union, EU leaders have warned.

EU in diplomatic push to save Iran deal

EU leaders mobilise to stop Trump's attack on Iran deal, as Congress prepares knife-edge vote with implications for trans-Atantic ties and Middle East stability.

Opinion

EU can still end Rohingya ethnic cleansing

If European leaders speak and act now, there's a chance ethnic cleansing could end before the last Burmese Rohingya is killed, captured, or exiled.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  3. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  4. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  5. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  6. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  7. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  8. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  10. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year
  11. ILGA-EuropeMass Detention of Azeri LGBTI People - the LGBTI Community Urgently Needs Your Support
  12. European Free AllianceCatalans Have Won the Right to Have an Independent State

Latest News

  1. No sign of Brexit speed-up after May-Juncker dinner
  2. EU defence strategy 'outsourced' to arms industry
  3. EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says
  4. Malta in shock after car bomb kills crusading journalist
  5. Spanish and Catalan leaders continue stand-off
  6. May pleads for more, as EU makes Brexit gesture
  7. EU circles the wagons around Iran deal
  8. 'Think of the patients!' cry EU agency contenders