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Elevated Saudi-Iran tensions bad news for anti-terrorism in Middle East

Just a few days into the new year, the Middle East situation has taken a turn for the worse following Saudi Arabia's announcement that it had severed diplomatic ties with Iran.

The elevated tension between the region's two powerhouses cast a shadow over regional security, and if left unchecked, it is likely to dampen the momentum of coordination in fighting against terrorism in the region and the whole world at large.

Saudi Arabia severed diplomatic ties with Iran on Sunday, less than a day after demonstrators in the Iranian capital stormed the Saudi embassy to protest Riyadh's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

The severance of diplomatic relations between the two powerful Islamic states in the heart of the Middle East will negatively affect regional peace and security, and have significant geopolitical implications.

The spiraling tension makes the prospect for a diplomatic breakthrough in Syria and Yemen now look even remoter.

In recent years, Middle East turbulence has created zones of chaos and anarchy, which have become hotbeds for violent extremist and terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaida.

While the regional anti-terror momentum has just been building up, the deterioration of Iran-Saudi Arabia relations could lead to further unrest and jeopardize the cooperation among nations fighting this menace, the spill-over of which could pose new threats to the region and even the whole world.

China on Monday voiced concern over the Saudi-Iran row, calling on the two countries to keep calm and show restraint.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying stressed that China hoped all relevant parties could strengthen communication and cooperation in anti-terrorism, and the security and dignity of diplomats and missions can be ensured.

Actually, in the crisis-ridden Middle East, the last thing people want to see is more conflicts and bloodshedding, especially at a time when settling conflicts peacefully through dialogues and negotiations has become consensus of the international community and the common aspirations of the people in the region.

At this critical juncture, it is imperative for the region's major powers to show restraint and prevent the situation from spiraling out of control. The cooperation among them is vital for ending the prolonged crisis and restoring peace and stability in the Middle East, as well as for the success of the global anti-terror efforts.

[Source: By Xinhua writer Ma Mengli, Xinhua, Beijing, 05Jan16]

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