Rapidly deteriorating relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran – and, increasingly, other Middle Eastern nations – will damage peace talks in Syria and will only serve to benefit Islamic State (ISIS), the terrorist group operating in the country, analysts have warned.
Saudi Arabia and Iran, the Middle East's two opposing powerhouses, fell out spectacularly at the weekend after the Saudis executed a prominent Shiite cleric. The execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a vocal critic of Sunni-majority Saudi Arabia, was one of 47 carried out by the country against people it described as "terrorists."
In particular, the execution of the cleric prompted protests across the region and a retaliatory attack on the Saudi embassy in Iran, a Shia stronghold.
Rising tensions between the Shiite and Sunni authorities have already prompted surrounding nations to divide on sectarian lines, with Saudi Arabia's allies Bahrain, Sudan and UAE joining diplomatic action against Tehran by severing or downgrading ties with the country.