Saudi Arabia and Iran continue information war
Before the start of the pilgrimage of Muslims to the holy places in Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia and Iran launched an information war. During last year's Hajj dozens of Iranian pilgrims were killed as a result of a stampede, and Tehran accused Riyadh of poor organization of the Hajj and for the first time in three decades Iran refused to send its pilgrims to the holy places. Vestnik Kavkaza invites our readers to read an article published in the British publication The Independent, revealing the essence of the problem.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, accused “heartless and murderous Saudis” of deliberately causing the disaster that killed an estimated 2,000 Muslims near Mecca in 2015. His comments prompted a fiery retort from Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of the holy city in Saudi Arabia. A Saudi prince has threatened to “deter every aggressor” amid a war of words with Iran over a deadly stampede during last year’sHajj pilgrimage.
He said the orderly conduct of this year’s pilgrimage, seeing an estimated two million Muslims travel to Mecca, “is a response to all the lies and slanders made against the kingdom”.
“I pray to God Almighty to guide them and to deter them from their transgression and their wrong attitudes toward their fellow Muslims among the Arabs in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and around the world,” he was quoted as saying. “But if they are preparing an army to invade us, we are not easily taken by someone who would make war on us. When we desire, and with the help of God Almighty, we will deter every aggressor and will never relent in protecting this holy land and our dear country. No one can defile any part of our country if any one of us remains on the face of the Earth.”
There has recently been a rise in rhetoric between politicians in Saudi Arabia and Iran over the Hajj disaster and continuing tensions over international relations and foreign intervention. Saudi Arabia, with a Sunni Wahabi government, is allied to the US and UK, while Shia Muslim Iran has close ties to Russia and China. The two nations are backing opposite parties in conflicts including Syria and Yemen, while tensions have been further inflamed by Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shia cleric and ensuing violent protests. Riyadh broke off relations with Tehran after its embassy there was attacked and set on fire by people protesting against Sheikh Nimr’s death, for which Iran’s Revolutionary Guards promised “harsh revenge”. Iran blamed the 2015 Hajj disaster on Saudi incompetence, with Ayatollah Khamenei saying Muslims should not let Saudi rulers escape responsibility for “crimes” he said they had committed in Middle Eastern conflicts.