Iran-Saudi war of words heats up ahead of hajj
A bitter war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensified on Wednesday – ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage, from which Iranians have been excluded for the first time in decades.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the “incompetence” of the Saudi royal family as he met with the families of victims of a deadly stampede during last year’s hajj. “This incident proves once again that this cursed, evil family does not deserve to be the in-charge and manage the holy sites,” Khamenei said.
The annual pilgrimage to Islam’s holiest places in Saudi Arabia, which is due to start on Saturday.
Iranians have been blocked from the event after talks on safety and logistics fell apart in May. “If the existing problems with the Saudi government were merely the issue of the hajj... maybe it would have been possible to find a way to resolve it,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting.
“Unfortunately, this government by committing crimes in the region and supporting terrorism in fact shed the blood of Muslims in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” Rouhani said.
The week began with a furious rebuke from Khamenei, published on his website, in which he accused the Saudi royals of “murder” of nearly 2,300 pilgrims, including hundreds of Iranians, in last year’s stampede.