Saudi Arabia's deputy crown prince said Tuesday in a rare and wide-ranging interview that there is no space for dialogue with rival Iran due to its Shiite ambitions "to control the Islamic world." The interview, which aired on multiple Saudi TV channels, offered a glimpse into how Mohammed bin Salman views the kingdom's top rival. 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 a rebel group aligned with Iran. Framing the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, he said it is Iran's goal "to control the Islamic world" and to spread its Shiite doctrine, the AP reports.
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?" "We know we are a main target of Iran," he 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." On Yemen, the prince defended the decision to enter a war that has reached a stalemate. He said the rebels could be uprooted "in a matter of days," but Saudi Arabia has not sent ground troops to retake major cities because it would lead to thousands of deaths. "Time is on our side. Patience is on our side," he said.