Saudi Arabia does not foresee war with its arch foe Iran despite heightened tensions between the regional heavyweights, its deputy crown prince was quoted as saying.
Saudi Arabia severed relations with Iran after an attack on its embassy in Tehran on Sunday following the kingdom’s execution of Shia religious leader Nimr al-Nimr, who was put to death along with 46 mostly Sunni Muslims convicted on terrorism charges.
Asked about the possibility of war, Prince Mohammed bin Salman told the Economist magazine: “It’s something that we don’t foresee at all, and whoever is pushing towards that is somebody who isn’t in their right mind.
“Because a war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is the beginning of a major catastrophe in the region . . . For sure we will not allow any such thing.”
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The deputy crown prince, widely thought to wield considerable power in the monarchy, also defended the kingdom’s execution of Nimr in the interview with the London-based magazine.
“The court didn’t at all make any distinction between whether or not a person is Shia or Sunni. They’re reviewing a crime, and a procedure, and a trial, and a sentence, and carrying out the sentence,” Prince Mohammed said.
Tensions between the two regional powerhouses – which support opposite sides in the wars in Yemen and Syria – have risen in recent days.
Regional Sunni nations have backed Saudi Arabia in the current diplomatic crisis.
Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia deteriorated even further on Thursday as Tehran severed all commercial ties with Riyadh.
Iran also accused Saudi Arabia of bombing its embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, but reports said there was no visible sign of damage.
“This deliberate action by Saudi Arabia is a violation of all international conventions that protect diplomatic missions,” Hossein Jaber Ansari, a foreign ministry spokesman, was quoted as saying by state television.