Saudi leader: No room for dialogue with Iran

Prince Mohammed bin Salman says there is no space for dialogue with Iran due to its Shiite ambitions “to control the Islamic world.”

Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said Tuesday in a rare interview that there is no space for dialogue with the kingdom’s arch-rival Iran due to its Shiite ambitions “to control the Islamic world.”

The 31-year-old prince, who was named in 2015 by his father, King Salman, as an eventual heir to the throne, is Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, overseeing the war in Yemen against the Shiite Houthi rebel group armed and supported by Iran.

He also oversees economic matters and is behind a bold program to overhaul the Saudi economy.

Framing the tensions with Iran in religious and sectarian terms, he said it is Iran’s goal “to control the Islamic world” and to spread its Shiite doctrine in preparation for the arrival of a revered imam named Mohammed al-Mahdi. Shiite Muslims believe al-Mahdi, the 12th and last Shiite imam, who disappeared in the 9th century, will one day reappear to bring justice to Earth.

Understandings With Iran?

When asked if he sees a possibility for direct dialogue with Iran, the prince replied: “How can I come to an understanding with someone, or a regime, that has an anchoring belief built on an extremist ideology?”

“What are the interests between us? How can I come to an understanding with this?” he said.

Iran and Saudi Arabia’s rivalry has played out in proxy wars across the region. They back opposite sides in the wars in Syria and Yemen and they support political rivals in Lebanon, Bahrain and Iraq. The conflicts have deepened Sunni-Shiite enmity on both sides.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since Iran’s 1979 revolution, with each side competing to be the more powerful force in the Muslim world.

Tensions escalated last year. Saudi Arabia’s execution of a local Shiite cleric sparked the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy in Iran by protesters. The two countries severed diplomatic and trade ties.

“We know we are a main target of Iran,” Prince Mohammed said. “We are not waiting until there becomes a battle in Saudi Arabia, so we will work so that it becomes a battle for them in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff