Timeline of latest Iran-Saudi Arabia crisis

Iranians holding posters of executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan 4, 2016.
Iranians holding posters of executed Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration in Tehran on Jan 4, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - The latest crisis between regional rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia, which erupted after Riyadh executed a prominent Shi'ite cleric, looks set to worsen in coming days.

Here's a snapshot of events so far:

Jan 2:

- Riyadh announces the execution of cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, 56, who had voiced bitter opposition to the Saudi royal family, and 46 other "terrorists". Demonstrators rally in Qatif, eastern Saudi Arabia, where most of the Shi'ite minority live. Nimr was arrested in 2012, three years after calling for Eastern Province's Qatif and Al-Ihsaa governorates to be separated from Saudi Arabia and united with Bahrain.

- Teheran warns that Riyadh would "pay a high price" for the execution, but the Saudis call Iran "a state that sponsors terror". Diplomatic envoys from both countries are recalled.

- Hundreds of demonstrators in Teheran set fire to the Saudi Embassy before the police make 40 arrests. In Mashhad, north-eastern Iran, four more are arrested after a crowd torches a Saudi consulate.

- Gulf monarchies express support for Saudi Arabia, in particular Bahrain which faces chronic unrest among its Shi'ite minority, and where police use tear gas to disperse demonstrators. Indignation floods the Shi'ite world. In Iraq, hundreds demonstrate in the holy Shi'ite city of Karbala and prominent Shi'ite lawmaker Khalaf Abdelsamad calls for the closure of Riyadh's embassy in Baghdad, newly reopened after a 25-year hiatus.

Jan 3:

- Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warns that Saudi Arabia will face "divine revenge" for executing Nimr. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani denounces attacks on the Saudi Embassy and consulate as "totally unjustifiable". Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah slams the Riyadh government as "criminal and terrorist". "This is not something we can ignore," he warns.

- Thousands of Shi'ites demonstrate in Pakistan and violence breaks out in Bahrain and Indian Kashmir.

- Saudi Arabia announces the rupture of diplomatic relations with Iran and gives Teheran's diplomats 48 hours to leave the kingdom.

- The United States urges the Iranians and Saudis to act to ease tensions.

Jan 4:

- Iran accuses Riyadh of seeking to stoke regional tensions and says the Saudi decision to cut ties will not deflect attention from Riyadh's "big mistake" of executing Nimr.

- Thousands of supporters of prominent Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest in Baghdad to demand that it sever ties with Riyadh. Blasts rock two Sunni mosques in central Iraq, killing one man, while a muezzin is gunned down south of Baghdad.

- Bahrain and Sudan cut diplomatic ties with Iran and the United Arab Emirates downgrades its relations.

- In Teheran, 3,000 people protest against the Saudi royal family, and burn Israeli and US flags.

- Saudi Arabia cuts all air and trade links with Iran.

- Russia offers to mediate between Riyadh and Teheran. British Prime Minister David Cameron says the tensions are "hugely concerning", condemning the execution. US Secretary of State John Kerry calls both countries' foreign ministers to urge calm.

- The UN peace envoy for Syria, Mr Staffan de Mistura, heads for Saudi Arabia and Iran for talks aimed at defusing tensions.

- The Arab League schedules talks at Saudi Arabia's request for Sunday to discuss attacks in Iran on the kingdom's embassy and consulate.