Yemen’s top cleric and minister of endowments have condemned the restrictions imposed by the Saudi regime on the Yemeni pilgrims.
According to the Arabic-language al-Masirah television network, Yemen’s Minister of Endowments Najib al-Aji said Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Hajj and Umrah refused to respond to Yemeni correspondence regarding coordinating efforts to facilitate the pilgrimage or conducting flights to carry Yemeni pilgrims planning to carry out the religious duty this year.
He added that the National Salvation Government denounces the restrictions imposed by the Saudi regime on the Yemeni pilgrims.
According to Yemen’s Deputy Minister of Endowments Fuad Naji, the Saudi restrictions includes refusing to recognize passports issued in the capital Sana’a, closing Sana’a International Airport and opening only one crossing to Yemenis.
Yemen’s Mufti Sham al-Din Sharaf al-Din said politicizing Hajj is used by the Saudi regime against its opponents in Yemen, Palestine, Iraq and Libya.
The top cleric slammed Riyadh for normalizing ties with the Israeli regime and arresting scholars, saying such a regime has no mandate to control the Grand Mosque in the Saudi city of Mecca, referring to the Saudi incompetence in the management of Hajj.
Saudi Arabia organizes the Hajj pilgrimage as the custodian of Islam's holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina.
However, serious questions were raised about the competence of Saudi authorities to manage the Hajj rituals following two deadly incidents in September 2015. More than 100 pilgrims lost their lives after the collapse of a massive construction crane into Mecca’s Grand Mosque. About 4,700 people also died in a human crush, according to figures provided by Iran.
Depending on the pilgrim's nationality, Hajj costs thousands of dollars per person. Hajj and Umrah make up 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil-related GDP.
Last month, the American magazine Foreign Policy said in a report that Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's policies prompted large groups of Muslims across the world to boycott this year's Hajj, citing concerns that Riyadh may use the revenues from the pilgrimage to pursue the young prince's destructive foreign policies, including his deadly war on the people of Yemen.
Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, when bin Salman was just the kingdom's defense minister, with the goal of bringing the government of former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.
The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.
In late April, Libya’s Grand Mufti Sadiq al-Ghariani urged Muslims to abstain from traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage more than once, saying the kingdom uses Hajj revenues to commit crimes against "fellow Muslims."