On May 30, 2016, Saudi Arabia and Iran announced that they had failed to reach an understanding on arrangements for Iranians to attend this year's Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and that consequently Iranians will not come to Saudi Arabia to participate in the rituals. The Iranians blamed the Saudis for the failure of the talks, claiming that they had made excessive demands. For example, they had banned flying Iranian flags at hostels accommodating Iranians or along the Iranian pilgrims' routes, refused to open an assistance and first aid station for the Iranian pilgrims, and demanded that Iranian pilgrims wear electronic tracking bracelets. Conversely, Saudi Arabia claimed that, even though it had agreed to all the Iranian demands regarding the arrangements, Iran had refused to accept them It also emphasized that it opposed any politicization of the Hajj, and that it was Iran's insistence on holding political demonstrations against the Saudi regime and against the U.S. at the Shi'ite Hajj ceremonies that had prevented the Iranians from coming to the Hajj.
It should be mentioned that the tension and hostility between the two countries has been mounting due to the proxy wars they are waging in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and for other reasons. In fact, on January 4, 2016 Saudi Arabia severed its relations with Iran after Iranian demonstrators attacked and torched its representations in Tehran and in Mashhad; the attacks came two days after Saudi Arabia executed the senior Shi'ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr.
It should also be noted that in last year's Hajj catastrophe in Mina, nearly half of the 1,000 pilgrims who were trampled to death were Iranians. Following that incident Iran held Saudi Arabia responsible for the catastrophe and threatened a harsh response.
The tension over the Hajj affair was reflected, inter alia, in cartoons published in the Saudi and Iranian press in the recent weeks. The following is a sampling of the cartoons.
Iranian Cartoons Attacking Saudi Arabia
Cartoons in the Iranian press presented the Saudi royal family as a traitor and as collaborating with the U.S., the Zionists, and ISIS, which is their creation. The Saudis are also presented as responsible for the Mina catastrophe and as barring Iranians from participating in the Hajj.
"Traitors in the house of God and servants of ISIS" (Aviny.com, May 28, 2016)
"The cube of love [i.e., the Kaaba] in the hands of the criminal Zionist Wahhabis - This year Saudi Arabia, under the influence of the America, Israel and the Jews, barred Iranians from participating in the Hajj in order to express greater hostility towards the Shi'ites and blacken the reputation of Islam and the Muslims" (Tasnimnews.com, June 5, 2016)
The Saudi king, as he bars the arrival of pilgrims from "Iran": "We are duty-bound to ensure the safety of the Hajj rituals everywhere." (Tasnimnews.com, May 29, 2016)
SUPPORT OUR WORK
"Safety during the Hajj": the Saudi spider steps over dead bodies in "Mina" (Aviny.com, May 29, 2016)
The bat, representing the "Sa'ud" royal family, bars the doves from attending the "Hajj" (Farsnews.com, May 31, 2016)
Saudi Cartoons: Iran Is Politicizing The Hajj
Cartoons in Saudi Arabia presented Iran as aiming to politicize the Hajj by having its pilgrims stage pre-planned demonstrations during their pilgrimage, which would spark riots and jeopardize Saudi security.
"Iran and the politicization of the Hajj": "Iran" loads the gun of its "policy" with pilgrims (Makkah, Saudi Arabia, May 25, 2016)
"Iran's method of performing the Hajj" ('Okaz, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2016)
"Iran and the politicization of the Hajj": "Iran" uses its pilgrims to ignite fires (Makkah, Saudi Arabia, June 1, 2016)
The Iranian pilgrims -- a ticking bomb ('Okaz, Saudi Arabia, May 29, 2016)
 Irdiplomacy.ir, May 30, 2016.
 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 28, 2016; Twitter.com/alialimadadi, May 29, 2016.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1215, Unprecedented Tension Between Saudi Arabia, Iran Following Execution Of Shi'ite Cleric Nimr Al-Nimr, January 4, 2016.
 Among them was also Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon (mizanonline, October 1, 2015).
 Website of Iran's Supreme Leader: khamenei.ir, October 10, 2015.