Iran’s Supreme Leader has returned to public denunciation of Saudi Arabia, using the pilgrimage to Mecca and a 2015 crush that killed 464 Iranians.
Ayatollah Khamenei called for a new investigation of the deaths at Mina, near Mecca, during a “Stoning of the Devil” ceremony.
Saudi Arabia has acknowledged 769 fatalities, but it is estimates of the total ranged from about 2,100 to almost 2,800.
Khamenei’s criticism comes ahead of this year’s hajj, but it may have been spurred by ongoing conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia over the crushing of the Syrian uprising, the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war, and maneuvers for political influence in Iraq.
The Supreme Leader told hajj organizers:
A fact-finding committee, with Iran’s presence, should be formed to investigate these cruelties. Relevant Iranian authorities should mobilize all legal resources to follow up the tragedy.
The holy lands of Mecca and Mina belong to all Muslims ….They do not belong to rulers of Saudi Arabia.
Iranian authorities boycotted the haj in 2016. After detailed discussions with Saudi officials, about 90,000 Iranians made the pilgrimage last year. Around the same number are expected this year.
Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic in January 2016 after the burning of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, following Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric.