Maldives severs ties with Iran to back Saudi Arabia

Maldives severs ties with Iran to back Saudi Arabia
The Maldives has cut diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic over Iran's policies in the region, in a move siding with key financial backer Saudi Arabia.
2 min read
18 May, 2016
The Maldives established diplomatic ties with Iran in 1975 [Getty]
The Maldives has cut 40-year-old diplomatic ties with Iran, its foreign ministry announced on Tuesday, in a move siding with its key financial backer, Saudi Arabia.

The Indian Ocean archipelago, which is member to the Saudi-led coalition against terrorism, cited Tehran's policies in the Middle East as reason for severing diplomatic ties.

The Maldives foreign ministry said policies pursued by the Islamic Republic were "detrimental to peace and security in the region," without giving details.

Stability in the Gulf was "also linked to stability, peace and security of the Maldives," the ministry said in a statement.

The Maldives established diplomatic ties with Iran in 1975, although neither has an embassy or consulate in the other's country.

Last month Maldives President, Abdulla Yameen, received Iran's new ambassador to the Indian Ocean region, Mohammed Zaeri Amirani, who is based in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Yameen said he hoped the two countries could strengthen ties and that the Maldives – made up of 340,000 Sunni Muslims – could start importing oil, after international sanctions on Iran were lifted following US-led efforts to reach a nuclear deal earlier this year.

Saudi Arabia has recently stepped up financial support for the Maldives by pledging $50 million in funding for a military housing project on the island nation.

Male was also seeking $100 million from Riyadh for an expansion of its main airport.

In January Riyadh cut ties with Tehran after Iranians, protesting the execution of a prominent Saudi Shia cleric, stormed the kingdom's diplomatic posts in Tehran and Mashhad.

Currently the two countries were recently entangled in a row over the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Islam's holiest sites in Saudi Arabia.

Agencies contributed to this report.