Russia offers to host Iran, Saudi Arabia negotiations in light of recent row

Following a series of protests stemming from the execution of a well-known Shiite cleric and critic of the Saudi Arabian government, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Sudan have cut diplomatic relations with Tehran and ordered its diplomats to leave their countries. The latest row between the preeminent Sunni and Shiite Muslim authorities is likely to portend poorly for any resolution to the protracted proxy wars playing out in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia became enraged when a group of Iranian protestors set fire to its embassy in Tehran following the execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a well-known cleric who had been detained on questionable charges of treason and sedition. While the protests were carried out without casualties, they appear to have irreparably exacerbated historically poor and acerbic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

In light of the break in relations, Russia has offered to hold negotiations between the two sides in Moscow. Russia has traditionally aligned itself with Iran and has become one of its leading trade partners in recent years, although it has also maintained comparatively amicable ties with Saudi Arabia. It remains to be seen whether or not the two sides will accede to calls for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. Russia, for its part, has labeled the cut in relations “unconstructive” due to the deleterious effect it could have on conflicts of mutual importance.

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