Iran says no Iranian pilgrims at next hajj, blames Riyadh

Tehran: Iran has officially announced it won’t be sending pilgrims to the hajj this year and is blaming Saudi Arabia, claiming the kingdom has failed to provide adequate security for the pilgrims.

The hajj has become a contentious issue as tensions between the two Mideast powers escalated after last year’s hajj disaster killed at least 2,426 people.

Haj-pilgrims Saeed Ohadi, head of Iran’s Hajj and Pilgrimage Organisation, said today that “Saudi Arabia knows it will pay a heavy price” for its behavior.

In the wake of the 2015 disaster, Iran had demanded additional security guarantees but a second round of talks in Saudi Arabia this week failed to resolve the issue.

Ohadi says Riyadh sought to restrict the number of makeshift clinics Iran had wanted to set up for its pilgrims.