Arab News – Saudis stand as one to defend the Two Holy Mosques after Iranian incitement calls to frustrate this year’s Haj.
This united stand is an answer to what they called a open call for terrorism against the Kingdom by Iranian leader Ali Khamenei, as well as extremist calls of Iraqi elements to avoid praying behind the imam of the Grand Mosque.
The Kingdom announced through Crown Prince Mohammad bin Naif, that it will respond decisively to anyone who thinks of disturbing Haj, whether from Iran or anywhere else. Gulf countries said in a joint statement that they condemn Khamenei’s statements, which shouldn’t be uttered by any Muslim.
The Saudi crown prince said the Iranian Haj mission this year came with demands that violate Haj rulings and compromise pilgrims’ security. He said Tehran prevented its citizens from performing Haj this year, and since then, Gulf states confirmed that they reject the unjust campaign and statements made by senior Iranian officials against the Kingdom.
Since Riyadh chose to boycott Tehran after the terrorist attacks on the Kingdom’s embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashhad last January, Iranian officials haven’t missed any chance to issue hostile statements against the Kingdom as part of a media war to cover their internal problems, as described by Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.
Shoura Council member Fayez Al-Shahri said the Iranian escalation in the form of its latest statements against the Kingdom isn’t new. Indeed, it repeats this every year. He added that insulting Saudis has been part of the Iranians’ political concept of Haj, which has been present since the first Khomeini revolution.
Al-Shahri cited statements by Saudi officials to point out that Iranian Muslims are welcome to perform Haj, and some of them have indeed arrived from outside Iran in the holy cities.
It is clear that the Kingdom is well prepared for this Haj season to guarantee the safety and security of all pilgrims. There has been a comprehensive deployment of modern technology in control and monitoring services. These huge preparations and the virtual trainings reveal the extent of readiness of security and service authorities, which take part in caring for the guests of God and maintaining their security. This also sends a message of determination that pilgrims’ security and safety is a red line which no one will be allowed to cross or violate.
Iran has a long history of terrorist aggressions against the Grand Mosque and causing chaos at the Two Holy Mosques. It started riots in 1987, and a year before that, a terrorist plot that targeted the Grand Mosque was frustrated when 51 kilos of C4, a highly explosive substance, was confiscated.
Iranian intelligence tried to smuggle drugs with one of its Haj missions but failed, and in 1989, Saudi security forces captured 20 Kuwaiti pilgrims who later confessed to receiving explosive substances from Iranian diplomats at the Iranian Embassy in Kuwait. They were tried and executed.
The number of security forces deployed during the Haj season aren’t disclosed, but their number usually exceeds 100,000 who work around the clock. Additionally, there are emergency intervention forces, in case of any emerging security situation.