Saudi war on Yemen to blame for safety lapse at Hajj: Iran official

A senior Iranian official has criticized Saudi authorities for the failure to ensure the security of the Hajj pilgrimage rituals, saying that Riyadh’s ongoing deadly war on Yemen is to blame for the fatal stampede in Mina, outside the holy city of Mecca.

“A change in Saudi Arabia’s security priorities and the deployment of elite security and police forces for the aggression against Yemen and the crackdown on the Muslim people of Bahrain and the qualitative and quantitative decline in the security standards in the Hajj played a decisive role in the catastrophe,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani said on Friday, referring to the Mina incident of September 24.

He emphasized that “the mismanagement” of the Saudi government and “the incompetence” of the kingdom’s officials during the Hajj rituals are definitely among the main factors behind the Mina crush.

At least 2,000 pilgrims, including 131 Iranians, lost their lives in the catastrophic entanglement after huge pilgrim processions were joined in their course.

It has been reported that the convoy of Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the son of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, had arrived at the site, forcing the pilgrims to change their original direction of movement.

According to the head of Iran’s Hajj mission, Ali Ghazi Askar, 366 Iranian pilgrims are still missing after the tragedy.

Hajj disaster amid war on Yemen

On March 26, Saudi Arabia launched its fatal military aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to the fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.

According to a report released on September 19 by Yemen’s Civil Coalition, over 6,000 Yemenis have so far lost their lives in the Saudi airstrikes, and a total of nearly 14,000 people have been injured.

Iran’s investigation into Mina

Shamkhani said the Islamic Republic is determined to investigate the case and will use all its legal capacities to examine the exact cause of the tragedy.

The SNSC official said Iran is ready to help the injured pilgrims even from other countries.

‘Iran must be part of probe’

Meanwhile, the Iranian cabinet held an emergency meeting Friday to investigate the incident.

During the meeting, presided over by Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri, the latest situation of those killed and wounded was discussed and necessary decisions were made.

Speaking after the meeting, Jahangiri said the Saudi government is responsible for the lives and well-being of the pilgrims.

“Mismanagement and inexperience are evident in [causing] this incident and Saudi Arabia must be accountable,” he said.

Jahangiri added, “The representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran should be involved in the investigation of the issue so that such incidents are not repeated in the future.”
Mina follows crane collapse

The Mina tragic event came days after a massive construction crane collapsed into Mecca’s Grand Mosque, killing nearly 110 people and injuring about 400 more.

Muslim pilgrims walk past a crane that collapsed the day before at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca, September 12, 2015. (AFP)

Eleven Iranian pilgrims were among the deceased and 32 of the injured were also Iranian nationals.

Separately, on September 21, a fire at a 15-story hotel in Mecca forced the evacuation of some 1,500 people. A fire also broke out at another hotel in the city days earlier, which left a number of foreigners injured.

By Press TV