Iran protesters
Iranian protesters raise their fists in front of a portrait of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a demonstration against his execution by Saudi authorities, outside the Saudi embassy in TehranGetty

Saudi Arabia is severing diplomatic ties with Iran as tensions increase in the region over the execution of a prominent Shiite cleric. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Al-Jubeir said that Iranian diplomatic personnel had 48 hours to leave the country and all Saudi diplomatic personnel in Iran was being recalled home, the Associated Press reported.

It follows protesters breaking into the Saudi embassy in the Iranian capital to protest against the execution of Shiekh Nimr al-Nimr, a leader of the country's Shiite minority.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Saudi Arabia would face "divine retribution."

The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom and Shiite powerhouse Iran have waged a bitter struggle for regional power for years. The two countries each back opposing sides in civil wars in Yemen and in Syria.

A source told the Associated Press that the kingdom severed relations with Iran because "enough was enough," and that the Saudi government was tired of what it sees as Tehran "thumbing its nose at the West".

The source added that Riyadh was less concerned with how its decision affects diplomatic efforts led by the United States, including the Syrian peace talks or the Iran nuclear deal.