Asharq Al-Awsat- Saudi Arabia criticized Friday the statements made by outgoing Iraqi Premier, Ibrahim al Jaafari, in which he claimed the Saudi authorities were not providing sufficient facilities and comfort for Iraqi pilgrims and had not taken into consideration the increasing desire of Iraqis to perform Hajj (pilgrimage) this year.
A source at the Hajj Ministry said al Jaafari’s statements were an attempt to use the Hajj issue to deal “with his faltering political position” in Iraq.
Meanwhile, Adnan al Dulaymi, leader of the National Accord Front, described al Jaafari’s attack on Saudi Arabia as “unjust”.
The source indicated that outgoing Iraqi Prime Minister, who had presided over his country’s Hajj delegation before coming to power, was well aware of the considerable effort and flexibility the Saudi Hajj authorities had displayed towards Iraq. In the last two years, the number of pilgrims had increased by 40%, exceeding the country’s quota, set by the Organization for Islamic Countries, whereby each country is allowed 1000 pilgrims to every million Muslim citizen, the source said.
Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the number of Iraqi pilgrims has more than doubled, as the Kingdom accepted the Iraqi population estimates, despite being inflated and dealt with the inability of Iraqi authorities, headed by al Jaafari, to issue passports to those going on pilgrimage and choosing pilgrims in a “regional and even sectarian basis”.
For his part, Adnan al Dulaymi told Asharq al Awsat from Baghdad that the outgoing “Iraqi Premier and the commission responsible for Hajj are responsible for the suffering of Iraqi pilgrims who have been sleeping in the streets for five days because the Iraqi government did not abide by the lottery principle and neglected those whose names had appeared and instead sent others”.
“I was member of the Hajj authority for two years. Al Jaafari was president given his membership in the governing council. He sought to thwart the authority’s work and allowed political and religious authorities he is allied to submit applications, outside the lottery system, the former president of the Sunni Waqf (religious endowment) Council said.
“Why is al Jaafari blaming others, especially the Saudi government, when he issued the additional passports to his supporters and Shiaa religious authorities to gain their backing?”
Al Dulaymi justified the outgoing premier’s attack on Saudi Arabia as “politically and religious motivated”.