Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is “immature” and “weak-minded” in the eyes of the rest of the globe, Iran said Friday in the latest terse exchange of rhetoric between the two Middle East powers waging proxy wars throughout the region, Newsweek reports.
Iran said on Thursday that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was discredited internationally by his “immature” behavior after Mohammed bin Salman called Iran’s Supreme Leader “the new Hitler of the Middle East”.
The prince, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, has taken a hard line on Iran. He told the New York Times it could not be allowed to spread its influence.
“Iran’s “Supreme Leader is the new Hitler of the Middle East. But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East,” he said, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Though the Hitler comparison may seem rather odd, as Iran has not embarked on a genocidal campaign of world conquest, the NYT article attributes his remarks to “Iranian overreach,” particularly in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.
His remarks drew a strong response from Tehran.
“No one in the world and in the international arena gives credit to him because of his immature and weak-minded behavior and remarks,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said in response.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi accused the “adventurist” crown prince of “immature, inconsiderate, and baseless remarks and behaviour”, the semi-official Isna news agency reported as quoted by Tasnim.
“The mistakes made by the adventurist Saudi crown prince, including his latest scandalous interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon which used to be the traditional ally of Saudi Arabia, have put the kingdom in deep trouble. Now that Bin Salman has begun to follow in the footsteps of the notorious dictators of the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran seriously advises him to think more about their doomed fates over the recent years,” he said.
The report added that Ghasemi said Saudi crown prince’s earlier remarks calling Iran’s supreme leader the “new Hitler” were “immature, misjudged and worthless.”
Relations between the two powers have become increasingly strained. Earlier this month, the prince blamed Iran for a missile attack aimed at the Saudi capital, Riyadh, by rebels in neighbouring Yemen. He said the attack might be considered an act of war. Iran denied it was involved.
Sunni-Muslim majority Saudi Arabia and Shia Muslim-led Iran are at loggerheads across the Middle East. The Saudis accuse Iran of helping Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been fighting a war since 2015. Iran and the rebels deny the charge.
The ongoing battle between the Saudis and Iranians is not merely geopolitical but also ideological. Saudi Arabia adheres to Sunni Muslim beliefs while Iran is led by Shiites. Each angles to be the predominant power in the region with other proxy wars in Qatar and Syria.
The deeply religious turf battle has gone on for decades, with the Saudis and many others across the globe considering Hezbollah to be Iran’s main arm for terrorism across the Middle East.