Iran To Sue Saudi Arabia Over Hajj Pilgrimage Deaths

Iranian officials say they will use international legal resources to sue Saudi Arabia over the 717 deaths that resulted from a Haj pilgrimage stampede near the holy city of Mecca on Thursday, according to Iranian Prosecutor General Ibrahim Raeesi.

He said more than 130 Iranian pilgrims were killed in the stampede which has been described as the worst Haj disaster in 25 years.

Middle East watchers say Raeesi’s announcement, which comes on top of condemnation of Saudi Arabian officials by the Iranian Government, will do little to ease the tension that already exists between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who are on opposing sides in the bloody conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Iran’s deputy foreign minister for Arab-African affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdullahian, said “The absence of accountability regarding the Mina disaster by Saudi officials is unacceptable. Saudi officials must not attribute the mismanagement by those in charge of the Haj rites to fate.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has declared three days of national mourning for not just the Iranians killed, but also the other pilgrims. Khamenei has blamed mismanagement by Saudi Arabian authorities for the tragedy.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said he has told authorities to review all arrangements for pilgrims, while his interior minister and son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, has called for an official investigation into the incident.

KIng Salman has conceded there is a need “to improve the level of organisation and management of movement” of pilgrims at the annual Haj.

Thursday’s disaster, was the second surrounding the Haj this month. Two weeks ago a crane collapsed and killed over 100 people at Mecca’s Grand Mosque.

Suleiman al-Amr, the head of Saudi Arabia’s civil defence authority said high winds during a storm caused the crane disaster.

Crowd control experts have said for several years that something must be done to reduce the numbers of pilgrims allowed to take part in the Haj each year.

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