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The Editors

Saudi Arabia and Iran on the Brink

The most urgent priority for the U.S. and allies: Keep things from getting worse.
The Iranian reaction.

The Iranian reaction.

Photographer: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia and Iran started the new year by reigniting an old feud. The challenge for the rest of the world is not to let their recklessness lead to an even broader Sunni-Shiite conflict across the Middle East.

The latest crisis started on Saturday, when the Saudis executed a prominent Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, along with several dozen convicted al-Qaeda terrorists. The Iranian regime -- which itself put nearly 700 people to death in the first half of 2015, according to Amnesty International -- swiftly condemned the execution, and crowds in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy. On Sunday, Saudi Arabia ordered the Iranian ambassador out of the country.