Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 5
By Rufiz Hafizoglu - Trend:
The crisis in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran can escalate into an open interconfessional conflict and Ankara should stay away from all that is taking place, Ermagan Kuloglu, a retired Turkish major general, told Trend in an exclusive interview Jan. 5.
Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran soured after execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shia cleric, by the Kingdom along with other 46 people, which was followed by a strong protest from Iran.
Mass protests took place in Iran following the said execution. In particular, the Saudi embassy in the capital Tehran and the consulate in the city of Mashhad were attacked, after which Riyadh broke off diplomatic ties with Tehran on Jan. 3.
Saudi Arabia's permanent representative to the United Nations Abdullah al-Moallem had earlier said that relations with Iran will be restored only when Tehran stops "interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, including that of Saudi Arabia's".
Meanwhile, Turkey's Foreign Ministry expressed concern about the attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran and described the attacks as "unacceptable."
The ministry also called for Iran and Saudi Arabia to be "careful" and use the language of diplomacy rather than threats.
Kuloglu believes that the severance of diplomatic ties between Tehran and Riyadh can negatively affect the whole Muslim world.
He also didn't rule out that a number of other countries, protecting their own interests, may take part in a possible open military conflict that can arise as a result of the crisis in relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"There is already a religious polarization in the Islamic world - Shiites and Sunnis, who are supported by a number of non-Muslim countries," he said.
The expert believes that the Shiite Muslim bloc led by Iran is supported by Russia and China, while the Sunni Muslim bloc led by Saudi Arabia is supported by the US and Europe.
Follow the author on Twitter: @rhafizoglu