Cairo: The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman has described Turkey as part of a “triangle of evil” along with Iran and hardline Islamist groups, Egypt’s Al-Shorouk newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The Saudi prince has also accused Turkey of trying to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate, abolished nearly a century ago when the Ottoman Empire collapsed.
His reported comments reflect Saudi Arabia’s deep suspicion of President Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party has its roots in Islamist politics and who has allied his country with Qatar in its recent dispute with Saudi Arabia and some other Gulf countries.
Turkey has also worked with Saudi Arabia’s arch-rival Iran to try to reduce fighting in northern Syria in recent months, and Iranian and Turkish military chiefs exchanged visits last year.
Al-Shorouk quoted Prince Mohammed as saying “the contemporary triangle of evil comprises Iran, Turkey, and extremist religious groups.”
The prince told Egyptian newspaper editors during his first foreign trip to Cairo since becoming heir to the oil-exporting giant last year.
Prince Mohammed said the dispute with Qatar could be long-lasting, comparing it to the US embargo of Cuba imposed 60 years ago, but played down its impact, dismissing the Gulf emirate as “smaller than a Cairo street”.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade links with Qatar last June, suspending air and shipping routes with the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas, which is home to the region’s biggest US military base.
However, the Prince Mohammed said Qatar would not be stopped from attending an Arab summit hosted by Saudi Arabia later this month.
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”.