As Saudi Arabia and Iran compete for influence in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammed bin Salman has pledged to protect his kingdom from Iran’s theocracy and domination.
Prince Mohammed said Iran is trying to gain more influence over Muslim nations, and he doesn’t think there’s a need for any discourse with their leaders in Tehran. Dialogue with them is hopeless.
“How do you have a dialogue with a regime built on an extremist ideology … that they must control the land of Muslims and spread their Twelver Jaafari sect in the Muslim world,” Prince Mohammed told an interviewer from MBC television.
Twelver is the largest branch of Shia Islam. They believe that twelve divinely ordained leaders will rise to deliver justice as they preserve and interpret sharia and the Quran. With them, the last Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, will reappear as the prophetic redeemer of Islam, to establish global Islamic rule. Mahdi will join with Jesus to wage war against the Antichrist.
Iran’s state religion is (Twelver) Shia Islam.
Prince Mohammed said that this ideology leads the Iranians to believe “the Imam Mahdi will come and they must prepare the fertile environment for (his) arrival … and they must control the Muslim world.”
During Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the established monarchy. Under their new constitution, the country’s supreme leader is the Imam Mahdi’s earthly representative.
The deputy crown prince believes that the battle for influence between two sects of Muslims, Shia – who have a majority in Iran- and Sunni, should stay in Iran and out of Saudi Arabia.
“We know that the aim of the Iranian regime is to reach the focal point of Muslims (Mecca) and we will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Mohammed said.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are also seemingly at odds in other respects, with reports that Iran is aiding a rival group in Syria’s civil war.
Prince Mohammed, who is also defense minister, said that Saudi Arabia could “crush” Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in Yemen. Saudi forces lead a coalition of Arab states in opposition to the Houthi in that region. Iran denies the accusation that it supports the Houthis.
Reports indicate that even with Saudi intervention, the Houthis continue to control large areas in Yemen, along with many weapons, after two years of war and more than 10,000 associated deaths.
“We can uproot the Houthis and Saleh in a matter of days,” Prince Mohammed, a son of King Salman, said. “We can mobilize Saudi land forces alone in days but the casualties in our forces will be in the thousands and the other result will be Yemeni civilian casualties in high numbers.”
He suggests patience is a better option, and he intends to exhaust the Houthi and reduce their supplies.
According to the United Nations, half of those killed in the Yemin conflict were civilians. The battles have also displaced more than three million people.
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