Iran sacks senior security official over Saudi embassy attack

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Iran has sacked a senior security official over his failure to stop the ransacking of Saudi Arabia’s embassy, which led the Sunni-ruled kingdom to sever diplomatic relations.

Safar Ali Baratlou’s replacement as security deputy to Tehran’s governor general was already under review, but the interior ministry said “a blind eye could not be turned” to what happened at the embassy.

The mission and the Saudi consulate in Mashhad, Iran’s second city, were attacked and torched on January 2 in anger over Riyadh’s execution of Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent cleric from the kingdom’s Shia minority.

“After initial investigations, failures… were confirmed” in connection with the “assault on the Saudi embassy”, the ministry said late Sunday, cited by the official IRNA news agency.

“Because of the importance of the matter, the interior ministry cannot overlook the smallest failures and factors that led to this incident,” the statement added of the attack and Baratlou’s dismissal.

Riyadh cut diplomatic ties with Tehran after the incidents, deepening the crisis over the execution.

Other Arab countries followed suit and severed or reduced relations with Iran, a predominantly Shia state.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani strongly condemned the attacks as “totally unjustifiable”, urging judiciary chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani to deal with wrongdoers immediately.