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Nigeria May Join Other Sunni Muslim Countries to Sever Ties With Iran

Kuwait has joined other Arab nations in recalling its ambassador to Iran over attacks on Saudi Arabian diplomatic missions in the Islamic Republic, amid rising regional tension following the execution of the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh al-Nimr Nimr.

Sudan and the island kingdom of Bahrain said on Monday they would sever ties with Iran, as Saudi Arabia did late Sunday. The United Arab Emirates announced it would downgrade ties to Tehran to the level of the charge d’affaires, while other nations issued statements criticising Iran.

A Nigerian foreign ministry source who refused to be named told SIGNAL on Tuesday that Nigeria may join other Muslim Sunni nations in severing diplomatic ties with Iran as well following Nigeria’s membership of the Saudi Arabia led Sunni Islamic Military Alliance.

READ: Nigeria Joins 34-Member ‘Islamic Military Alliance’ Led by Saudi Arabia

According to the source, “Nobody was informed before Nigeria was pulled into the Islamic Military Alliance with Saudi Arabia. There are indications that the ongoing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran will also affect Nigeria because of the Islamic Military Alliance Nigeria signed up to last month. But the Nigerian government must proceed carefully. We have no business getting ourselves involved in this Sunni-Shiite conflict among the Arab nations.”

Another Nigerian foreign ministry source who also pleaded anonymity disclosed to SIGNAL on Tuesday that it was unlikely that Nigeria will sever diplomatic ties with Iran. “Nigeria has no business meddling with the Arab conflict. Our diplomatic stance as nation has always been to maintain a non-aligned policy”, the source said.

Meanwhile, Kuwait has described the attacks on the Saudi kingdom’s officials as a “flagrant breach of international agreements and norms and a grave violation of Iran’s international commitments for the security of diplomatic missions and the safety of diplomats.”

The United Nations Security Council has also condemned the attacks on the Saudi diplomats that saw protestors ransack offices and set them on fire. A statement from the 15-member body made no mention, however, of the 47 executions in the Saudi kingdom on Saturday for “terrorism” offences.

Among the 47 people beheaded and shot was Sheikh Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric and Arab Spring activist whose supporters say was wrongly convicted of “terror” offences and seeking “foreign meddling” as Saudi authorities continue to quash dissent.

His death on Saturday sparked demonstrations around the world, with a group storming the Saudi embassy in Tehran the following day, smashing windows and furniture before setting it on fire, while angry protesters tore down a flag at the Saudi consulate in the city of Mashhad.

Outside the Middle East, world governments including France, China and the US have issued calls for calm and a return to diplomacy. Moscow has offered itself as a mediator between the main players, citing its success in bringing Saudi Arabia and Iran to the negotiating table over Syria.

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