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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

A senior Iranian official says Saudi Arabia has politicized the Hajj rituals, advising officials in Riyadh against trying Tehran’s patience.

"Unfortunately, Saudi rulers have turned the Hajj into a political leverage in order to mount pressure [on other countries] and use it in service of their obstructionist efforts," Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a top military adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said on Wednesday.

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

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

Noting that the Saudi regime has been so insolent as not to apologize to Muslim countries for its failure to properly handle the religious rituals, the Iranian official added that Riyadh even goes as far as impeding Iranian Hajj pilgrims from performing one of the most important Islamic obligations.   

About 7,000 people, including 465 Iranians, lost their lives in a crush during Hajj rituals in Mina, near Mecca, on September 24, 2015, with Iran having 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 on September 24, 2015. (Photo by AP)

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 efforts to create 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 that Saudi Arabia views the Islamic Republic as a “strategic rival” in the Persian Gulf region.  

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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