Tehran has shown its anger over remarks by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, the effective leader in Saudi Arabia, comparing Iran’s Supreme Leader with Adolf Hitler.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi responded on Friday to a fawning profile of Mohammad bin Salman by Thomas Friedman of The New York Times: “The adventurist Saudi crown prince should take into account the inevitable fate of infamous dictators in the region.”
Qassemi asserted that no one in the international community gave credit to “the immature, injudicious and cheap” remarks and conduct of the prince. He portrayed Saudi intervention in Yemen’s civil war and in Lebanese internal affairs as Mohammad bin Salman’s mistakes.
In the interview with Friedman, published on Thursday, Mohammad bin Salman said:
the “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.
The Hitler comparison was the only comment by the prince about Saudi-Iranian relations, in an elegy by Friedman that focused on Mohammad bin Salman’s consolidation of his power and crackdown on opponents as “reform” and an “anti-corruption”.
However, the rhetoric was the latest volley in the war of words between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which broke relations with the Islamic Republic in January 2016. Amid a series of confrontations with Tehran across the region, Mohammad bin Salman said in May that any war will be “inside Iran’s borders”.
Earlier this month, after Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri resigned during a stay in Saudi Arabia — a resignation that he finally withdrew on Wednesday when he returned to Beirut, the Saudi monarchy accused Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah of “acts of war”.