A senior Turkish official says Saudi Arabia’s recent execution of prominent Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr was “politically motivated.”
Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told a press conference on Monday that the execution did not have Ankara’s support.
“We are against all instances of capital punishment, especially when it is politically motivated,” he said.
Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr alongside 46 other people last Saturday. Nimr had been a vocal critic of the Riyadh regime. A Saudi court had sentenced the clergyman to death in 2014, provoking widespread global condemnations.
The execution has escalated already tense tensions in the region, threatening to derail peace efforts in Syria and Yemen.
Kurtulmus, who also serves as the Turkish government spokesman, voiced such concerns.
“The region is already a powder keg,” Kurtulmus said. “Enough is enough. We need our peace in the region.”
He also urged Iran and Saudi Arabia to calm tensions after Riyadh severed diplomatic relations with Tehran over the Islamic Republic’s criticism of the execution and angry demonstrations in condemnation of the killing.
“We want both countries to immediately move away from the situation of tension that will obviously only add to the already severe tensions existing in the Middle East,” he said.
Turkey’s relations with Saudi Arabia have warmed considerably in recent months. In December, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Riyadh for talks with King Salman and the entire Saudi elite.