Somalia joins Saudi backlash against Iran

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has condemned the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran. PHOTO | FILE 

Somalia has joined Saudi Arabia in the backlash against Iran over the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashad.

Somali Foreign Affairs ministry issued a condemnation Monday, written in Arabic, of the mob attack. The attack came following last Friday's execution by Saudi Arabia of dissident Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The execution has caused an uproar in the Shi'ite Muslim world.

Like Saudi Arabia, Somalia is predominantly Sunni. Other Sunni-led countries that have backed Saudi Arabia in its row with Iran are Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain.

The latter, though with a Shi'ite majority, is led by a Sunni elite.

According to the Somali statement, the attack in Iran was a breach of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations signed in 1961.

The ministry stressed that the convention obliged Iran to protect diplomatic privileges and immunities.

“Somalia is in solidarity with Saudi Arabia in its drive to tackle terrorism as well as all measures the kingdom takes to stabilise its country and the region,” read the statement in part.

Diplomatic relations

On Saturday, protesters in the Iranian capital reacted to the execution of Sheikh al-Nimr, in Saudi Arabia, by storming the kingdom's embassy and setting fire to parts of it.

Saudi Arabia subsequently closed the embassy and severed diplomatic relations with Iran.

In April last year, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud offered his country’s airspace, territorial waters and land to the Saudi-led coalition battling Shi'ite Houthi rebels in Yemen. The rebels are backed by Iran.

“Houthis are trying to topple a legal government (in Yemen) so it is the responsibility of the Arabs to protect (that government), and Somalia is playing its role to that end,” said the Somali leader.

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