Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Senior Iranian official advises Saudis against politicizing Hajj

Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei

"Unfortunately, Saudi rulers have politicized the Hajj as leverage against Iran and to carry out acts of sabotage," Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday.

Safavi said that Tehran has demonstrated "restraint” in the face of the Saudi policies against Iran.

The Iranian official added that the deadly incidents during last year’s Hajj rituals in Saudi Arabia have “stigmatized” Al Saud.

He said that Saudi Arabia has fallen short of apologizing to Muslim countries for its failure to properly handle the religious rituals, adding that the Arab country even creates obstacles in the way of Iranians seeking to perform the annual pilgrimage.   

About 7,000 people, including 465 Iranians, lost their lives in a crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca, on September 24, 2015.

Iran had the greatest number of deaths among foreign nationals.

Muslim pilgrims and rescuers gather around the victims of a crush in Mina, Saudi Arabia, during the annual Hajj pilgrimage

Saudi Arabia initially published a death toll of 770 and refused to update the number of fatalities later.

Just days before the Mina tragedy, a massive construction crane collapsed onto the Grand Mosque in Mecca, killing more than 100 people, including a number of Iranians, and leaving over 200 others wounded.

Iran cancelled the participation of its pilgrims in this year’s Hajj pilgrimage due to Saudi Arabia’s creation of obstacles in the way of Iranians seeking to perform the rituals.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Safavi highlighted the significance of the Islamic Republic of Iran in maintaining peace and security in the Persian Gulf region, saying Saudi Arabia views the Islamic Republic as a “strategic rival” in the region.  

“Saudi Arabia sees the Islamic Republic of Iran as a strategic rival in the Persian Gulf region," he said. 

The Saudi officials, "guided by the US and the Zionists, seek to create tension in their ties with Iran,” the senior Iranian commander added, stressing that Saudis’ failures in Iraq, Syria and Yemen are the result of the “unwise policies” of the rulers of the kingdom.



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