Saudi FM: Qatar call to internationalize holy sites an ‘act of war’

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said on Sunday "Qatar's request to internationalize the holy sites is an aggressive act and a declaration of war against the kingdom."

"We reserve the right to respond to any party working in the field of internationalization of the holy sites," Al-Jubeir said in an interview with Al Arabiya and Al Hadath on the sidelines of the four-way meeting in Manama.

Previously, Jubeir rejected Qatar’s attempts to politicize Hajj matters and reiterated that Qataris were welcome to perform the pilgrimage.

“Saudi Arabia rejects Qatar’s attempt to politicize the arrival of Qatari pilgrims into the kingdom,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said during a press conference with his Emirati, Bahraini and Egyptian counterparts in Manama.

“The kingdom’s history is clear in facilitating the arrival of pilgrims,” he added.

Jubeir also said that Saudi Arabia is making great efforts to facilitate the arrival of pilgrims into the country. “Saudi Arabia welcomes the Qataris to perform Hajj like the rest of the pilgrims,” he added.

The joint statement issued by the four foreign ministers following the meeting in Manama condemned Qatar’s authorities for obstructing its citizens from performing Hajj.

Hajj pilgrims from around the world have started arriving to Saudi Arabia to prepare for the pilgrimage. But, no one from Qatar has come yet despite the Kingdom’s constant calls welcoming them.

A Saudi official said that Qatar is banning its citizens from performing Hajj. Qatar has not announced the reason behind the closure yet.

Qatari decision coincides with Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei’s call to use the season this year to demonstrate Iranian political positions.

Earlier, Qatari news outlets have called to internationalize the holy sites supervision.

Prior to Manama’s meeting on Sunday, it was noted that Qatari media has begun to campaign to what it calls “separation of the two holy mosques from politics," in reference to Holy places in Mecca and Medina.

At the end of eighties and after cutting ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Tehran banned pilgrims from performing this religious duty for three years until 1991. Last year, Iran also prevented the 80, 000 pilgrims from it, accusing the kingdom of subversiveness and incapability to ensure safety of pilgrims.

Iran is calling since decades to internationalize the Two Holy Mosques to irritate the kingdom, which is entrusted with organizing the Hajj without any foreign interference. However, Tehran has failed in its calls and found no interaction.

In addition, some Qatari media said that citizens are banned from entering the Grand Mosque and that Saudis might kill them if they go to Hajj.

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