Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with Iran and hardline Islamist groups, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing Egypt’s Al-Shorouk newspaper.
The Saudi prince also accused Turkey of trying to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate, abolished nearly a century ago when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
His reported comments reflect Saudi Arabia’s deep suspicion of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party has its roots in Islamist politics and who has allied his country with Qatar in its dispute with Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf states.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all severed relations with Qatar last June over allegations that it supports terrorism. Qatar denies the charges.
Turkey has also worked with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival in the Middle East, to try to reduce fighting in northern Syria in recent months, and Iranian and Turkish military chiefs exchanged visits last year, noted Reuters.
Al-Shorouk quoted Prince Mohammed as saying “the contemporary triangle of evil comprises Iran, Turkey and extremist religious groups.”
The prince spoke to Egyptian newspaper editors during a visit to Cairo, on his first foreign trip since becoming heir to the oil exporting giant last year.
He said the dispute with Qatar could be long-lasting, comparing it to the U.S. embargo of Cuba imposed 60 years ago, but played down its impact, dismissing the Gulf emirate as “smaller than a Cairo street”.
The Saudi crown prince has previously criticized Iran, referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “the new Hitler of the Middle East”.
Iran later fired back, calling the Saudi crown prince “immature” and “weak-minded”.
Since his sudden appointment as crown prince, Prince Mohammed has moved to consolidate power, announcing crackdowns on both terrorism and corruption.