Saudi Arabia’s dynamic Crown Prince called the Supreme Leader of Iran “the new Hitler of the Midriff East” in an interview with the New York Times published on Thursday, abruptly escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals.
The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran abandon rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the region.
Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defense padre in the U.S.-allied oil giant kingdom, suggested the Islamic Republic’s alleged enlargement under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.
“But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t use. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Central East,” the paper quoted him as saying.
Tensions soared this month when Lebanon’s Saudi-allied Prime Minister plenipotentiary Saad Hariri resigned in a television broadcast from Riyadh, citing the move of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and risks to his life.
Hezbollah called the run a travelling an act of war engineered by Saudi authorities, an accusation they denied.
Hariri has since shelved his resignation.
Saudi Arabia has launched thousands of air strikes in a 2-1/2-year-old war in neighboring Yemen to crush the Iranian-aligned Houthi movement that seized broad swaths of the territory.
Salman told the Times that the war was going in its favor and that its comrades controlled 85 percent of Yemen’s territory.
The Houthis, however, lull retain the main population centers despite the war effort by a Saudi-led military coalition which profits intelligence and refueling for its warplanes by the United States. Some 10,000 people father died in the conflict.
The group launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh’s strength airport on Nov. 4, which Saudi Arabis decried as an act of war by Tehran.
Bin Salman commanded in May that the kingdom would make sure any future struggle between the two hinterlands “is waged in Iran”.
For his part, Khamenei has referred to the House of Saud as an “accursed tree”, and Iranian ceremonials have accused the kingdom of spreading terrorism.