407,000 pilgrims leave Saudi Arabia after performing Hajj

Some pilgrims are going to Madinah to visit the Prophet’s Mosque before they leave for their home countries. (SPA)
Updated 12 September 2017

407,000 pilgrims leave Saudi Arabia after performing Hajj

JEDDAH: The number of pilgrims who have left the Kingdom reached more than 400,000 as of Saturday, the General Directorate of Passports said.
“The total departures were 407,220 pilgrims. Pilgrims who left via land crossings reached 42,893; 359,508 departed from airports and 4,819 through sea ports,” the directorate added.
The directorate told pilgrims that leaving before their Hajj visa expires after performing their pilgrimage “avoids penalties prescribed by law.” Pilgrims were also warned not to travel outside Makkah, Jeddah and Madinah.
The directorate said companies providing services to pilgrims must not delay in reporting any pilgrims who overstay. “This delay may cause these companies to be subject to the prescribed penalties.”
The directorate has issued 90 administrative decisions against citizens and residents who transported pilgrims without a permit, with fines totaling SR5 million ($1,333,244). “The penalties varied between fines and prison sentences. It included deportation ... of the offender, and confiscation of the vehicle used to transport pilgrims.”


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 15 September 2019

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.