Jeddah: Saudi Arabia on Sunday denounced Iran over its decision not to send its pilgrims to the annual Hajj unless its demand regarding right to organise demonstrations during the Hajj and to have privileges is met.
“Iran demanded the right to organize demonstrations and to have privileges that would cause chaos during the Haj. This is unacceptable", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said in a joint press briefing with his British counterpart Philip Hammond in Jeddah yesterday.
He said Saudi Arabia agreed to facilitate the travel arrangements of Iranian pilgrims despite having no diplomatic ties or air links with Tehran.
“Iran’s intention from the start was to maneuver and find excuses in order to prevent its citizens from performing Haj,” he said. “They are now answerable to Allah.”
Al-Jubeir blamed Iran for the chaos and disorder in Iraq.
“Sedition and division in Iraq are the results of sectarian policies that grew out of Iran’s divisive policies in Iraq,” he said.
He said Iran had created a mess in Iraq by supporting Shiite militias. “If Iran wants stability in Iraq, it has to stop intervening and withdraw,” he said.
“You cannot have peace in Iraq with (Iranian General) Qassem Soleimani leading the campaign against Sunnis,” he said.
“Iran should respect the principle of good neighborly relations in order to focus on its internal situation and not intervene in the affairs of other countries in the region,” Al-Jubeir said. “Iran stands isolated because it sponsors terrorism.”
Jubeir said, Saudi Arabia annually signs a hajj memorandum of understanding with more than 70 countries to guarantee the security and safety of pilgrims.
However, Iran this year refused to sign the memorandum.
Iran's Haj and Pilgrimage Organisation on Friday announced that the country's pilgrims would not attend pilgrimage this year.
Iran has blamed regional rival Saudi Arabia for sabotage and failing to guarantee the safety of its pilgrims. Relations between the two countries plummeted after hundreds of Iranians died in a crush during last year's Hajj.
Iran had earlier boycotted the Hajj for three years after 402 pilgrims, mostly Iranians, died in clashes with Saudi security forces in an anti-US and anti-Israel rally in Mecca in 1987.