October 12, 2019
Thousands of disappointed Iranians have been forced to return to the country before completing the Arbaeen pilgrimage, an annual ritual that brings millions of Shiites from across the world to the city of Karbala in Iraq.
More than two million Iranian Shi’ites have already crossed the into Iraq, the Islamic Republic authorities have maintained.
Nevertheless, thousands of them were forced to leave the pilgrimage incomplete and return since there was no transportation, drinkable water, and travel services.
The Iraqi government has been “surprised” to the extent that they could not provide travel facilities to the millions of Iranian pilgrims crowding near the border areas, Fars news agency (FNA), affiliated with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, reported on Saturday, October 12.
A week ago, large protests rocked Iraq and the border with Iran was closed, putting in doubt this year’s pilgrimage. The anti-government protests took on an anti-Iran tone, as security forces fired on demonstrators killing dozens. Many people in Iraq blamed Iranian elements and Shiite militia aligned with Tehran for opening fire on the people.
Thousands of Iranians who have already crossed the Khosravi border into Iraq are still marooned, waiting for vehicles to take them to the Shrine of their third Imam in Karbala, FNA said.
Many pilgrims have also noted on social media that the bus drivers demand outlandish fares to take Iranians to Karbala.
Meanwhile, reports are saying that parking charges in the border areas inside Iran have soared beyond belief.
Furthermore, the pilgrims are suffering from a shortage of potable water.
Meanwhile, the head of Mostazafan, an Iranian government charity, Parviz Fattah twitted that he had ordered three million bottles of water transferred to Iraq.
Tehran has been describing the Arbaeen as the Islamic Republic’s show of power in recent years.
Every year, millions of Shiites, mainly Iranians, flock to Karbala to pay homage to their third Imam, Hussain ibn Ali, believed to be “martyred” along with 72 of his relatives and companions in the battle of Karbala against the forces of the Caliph, in 680 AD.
The annual pilgrimage this year has fallen on October 19 and ends a day later.
Trying to present the Arbaeen as “divine” as the Hajj, the Islamic Republic has so far been generous to spend vast amounts of money to orchestrate the ritual with much splendor.
Earlier it was reported that more than 30,000 Iranian police force and thousand more members of the Special Units, some embedded among the pilgrims, have been assigned to control law and order all the way through the week-long ceremony.