RIYADH: Tensions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar showed no signs of easing with the two nations accusing the other of politicizing the holy rite which takes place this year from August 30 to September 4.
Saudi Arabia on Sunday has described the calls by Qatar for the “internationalization” of the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage sites ‘a declaration of war’ against the Kingdom.
“Qatar’s demands to internationalise the holy sites is aggressive and a declaration of war against the kingdom … We reserve the right to respond to anyone who is working on the internationalisation of the holy sites,” Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was quoted by Al Arabiya as saying on Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia rejects Qatar’s attempt to politicize the arrival of Qatari pilgrims into the kingdom,” he added during the quadrilateral conference, which included officials from Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in Manama.
But, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani rejected the claim saying that no official from his country had made any such demand.
In an interview with Doha based news channel Al Jazeera Al Thani said, “Qatar never politicised the issue of Hajj. It was Saudi Arabia trying to politicise the Hajj pilgrimage amid the Gulf crisis. There has been no suggestion by any Qatari official about internationalising the issue.”
“We are tired of responding to false information and stories invented from nothing,” al-Thani told Al Jazeera.
The four Arab states accuse Qatar of supporting extremists and of growing too close to Shiite-dominated Iran, the regional arch-rival of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia.
Qatar denies the allegations and accuses the Saudi-led bloc of imposing a “siege” on the tiny emirate.