The general described how Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who came to power in January of 2015, and his son and deputy crown prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, who is also Minister of Defense and rose to prominence after his father took the throne, have both taken a more aggressive posture toward Iran.
Iranian protesters hold portraits of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr as they confront riot police during a demonstration against his execution by Saudi authorities on January 3, 2016, outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Iran however wants to cut it short, stressing its engagement in prosecuting those responsible for the attacks on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and consulate Mashhad, while reaffirming it does not want to boost tension in the region and that it is investing in diplomacy. The Somali Foreign Ministry said it recalled its acting ambassador to Tehran and ordered Iranian diplomats to leave Somalia within 72 hours.
Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted "divine vengeance" for the execution of al-Nimr, an outspoken opponent of the ruling Al Saud family.
Oil fell to its lowest in more than 11 years on Wednesday, down around 2 percent, as the row between Saudi Arabia and Iran was seen extinguishing any chance of major producers cooperating to cut production in the face of mounting global over supply. Saudi officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
Saudi Arabia signalled on Tuesday that the breach in its relations with Iran would not affect talks on Syria, another round of which is scheduled in Geneva this month.
Rouhani, like other Iranian officials, has stood his ground. "We hope that European countries, which always react to issues of human rights, would act on their human rights-related obligations in this case, too".
Saudi Arabia and Iran are already facing off against each other - though through proxies - in the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reaffirmed its recommendation that Saudi Arabia be designated as a "country of particular concern" for its serious and ongoing violations of religious freedom.
"The Saudis are frustrated by their sense that Washington is essentially allowing Iran to get away with murder" to get the nuclear deal implemented, Henderson says.
But heightened tensions and a prolonged diplomatic standoff along the region's Sunni-Shiite divide would set back USA interests - chief among them the battle against the Islamic State and violent Islamist extremism generally. Still, there are powerful Shiite players in the world, like Iran.
Separately, SPA said late on Thursday that three people were killed and nine wounded when "military projectiles" fired from Yemen landed in the Saudi southwestern region of Jazan.