Stampede fuels Saudi-Iran rivalry

The horrific stampede at Haj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia that left over 700 dead on Thursday has fuelled the traditional rivalry between the kingdom and Iran further. While Saudi officials have indirectly blamed some pilgrims for the stampede, Iranian leaders have slammed the Saudi monarchy for the worst tragedy in over 25 years. Among the dead were 131 Iranian nationals. In Teheran, thousands demonstrated cursing Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, while the Saudi King has ordered a review of Haj plans, an official statement said the tragedy would be probed immediately and the final toll of dead and injured released.

However, the Saudi assurances have not doused the Iranian anger. Top leaders, including President Hassan Rouhani, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Friday prayer leaders had blamed the Saudi authorities’  “incompetence” for the disaster. They even went to the extent of saying “Saudi Arabia is not qualified to be in charge of Haj.”

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