UNITED NATIONS, January 10. /TASS/. United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said on Sunday he has been reassured by the Iranian authorities that the current crisis in the diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia will not tell on their commitment to the Syrian settlement efforts.
De Mistura told journalists after his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that on January 5 Riyadh had promised that the severance of relations with Iran would not affect cooperation towards the launch of U.N.-brokered intra-Syrian talks on January 25. In his words, he had obtained similar assurances that the current strains would impact neither the Vienna process nor the talks in Geneva.
The U.N. envoy said he had completed the first round of consultations in the region during which he had visited Riyadh, Damascus, Beirut, Ankara and Teheran. It was a part of preparations for the talks in Geneva due to begin on January 25, de Mistura said, adding he was taking effort to ensure proper atmosphere to promote success of the talks and prevent possible adverse impacts from the current strains in relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia which backed opponent parties to the Syrian conflict.
De Mistura’s spokesperson in Geneva said the U.N. envoy would report the results of his tour to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in the days to come and would wait for the latter’s instructions concerning the launch of the intra-Syrian talks.
Another spiral of the crisis in Riyadh-Tehran relations followed when Saudi Arabia on January 2 executed prominent Shiite theologian cleric Nimr al-Nimr, arrested back in 2012 for criticizing the ruling regime and making calls for the observance of religious minorities’ rights and carrying out a constitutional reform.
In the evening of the same day crowds of furious Iranian demonstrators stormed the building of Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran and the consulate office in Mashhad. Riyadh severed relations with Teheran. Bahrain, Sudan and Djibouti supported Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates downgraded the level of diplomatic representation and Kuwait and Qatar recalled their ambassadors. Apart from that, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain halted air service with Iran.
On January 4, Saudi’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Abdullah bin Yahya al-Muallami told journalists relations between the two countries could be normalized only after Teheran stopped interfering into domestic affairs of the countries of the region, including Saudi Arabia.