RT– Saudi Arabia’s young leader – who recently compared Iran’s Supreme Leader with Hitler – has like many leaders before him fallen into the trap of the illusion of power, the Iranian defense minister told RT.
RT caught up with General Amir Hatami during his visit to Moscow, where he headed the Iranian delegation to an international security conference. In an exclusive interview, he chided Saudi Arabian Crown Prince (and de facto ruler) Mohammad bin Salman, often referred to as “MbS” by the media.
The Saudi leader recently wasted no chance to criticize Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional arch-rival. Among other things, the crown prince said Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was worse than Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler and predicted that the two nations may go to war in a decade.
“Those words have been said by a man who has little experience in state affairs,” the Iranian official told RT. “Once he claimed he could resolve the situation in Yemen in just one week. Yemen is a poor country with little military strength. The war in Yemen is now in its fourth year, and it has become a quagmire for Saudi Arabia.”
Hatami said Mohammad bin Salman’s statements should be measured against his achievements, which were not particularly spectacular in Yemen. The country has been devastated by a civil war, in which Saudi Arabia is directly involved on one side and Iran is being accused of secretly arming and supporting the other. It has resulted in one of the biggest humanitarian disasters of modern times, with millions of people living under the threat of famine.
The Saudi crown prince, Hatami believes, has fallen into the trap of “an illusion of power,” like many other leaders in the past who relied on military strength to achieve their goals.
“Hitler acted under an illusion of power, believing himself to be strong. So did Saddam Hussein [when he attacked Iran in 1980]. When the Americans attacked Iraq, they too had this delusion of power and strength. They thought they would occupy Iraq, appoint a new ruler and that would be it. But in all important issues they have failed miserably and plunged the country into the deepest hell,” the general said.
Hatami added that he hopes in time the future Saudi king will become more experienced and learn how to avoid this trap.
‘Trump simply made true face of imperialism obvious’
Hatami criticized another vocal critic of Iran, John Bolton, who was recently picked by the Trump administration to become National Security Adviser. Bolton, a key figure in the campaign to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public, has for years advocated launching a similar attack on Iran.
“Mr. Bolton may have not made any strong-worded statements against Iran after his nomination, but his imperialist mindset is a matter of record. All the freedom-loving peoples of the world are well aware of it,” he said.
“This mindset was no different in previous American administrations, only their methods differed. Trump simply represents the true face of American imperialism for everyone to see clearly. He is an obvious treat to peace and security of everyone, not just Iran,” he added. “But it does not matter who is in charge in the US. Whoever takes the office will pursue the same policies by methods of his preference.”
The Iranian minister also commented on Trump’s reliance on Twitter to communicate his thoughts, saying the medium was irrelevant as long as the source was the president of the United Sates.
“Some may believe that his use of this medium indicates Trump doesn’t use his mind as much as he should. Others say using Twitter is a pretty smart thing to do. The important thing is that he is the president,” he said.
‘Islamic State fighters went to Afghanistan, but they have little chance to get rooted there’
Commenting on the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in Iraq and Syria, Hatami said Iran did not share the concerns of some countries like Russia that the group may find a new base of operation in Afghanistan, even though they do pose a security threat there.
“There is little doubt that IS fighters went to Afghanistan, but there is disagreement of how many of them did. Some say as many as 10,000 may be there. The Afghan government says the figure is smaller. But they do operate there with no doubt,” he said.
“Some governments facilitate the withdrawal for the terrorists out of Syria and Iraq and take efforts to preserve the leaders of the terrorists. Our intelligence says those leaders may be smuggled into Afghanistan.”
The general added that Tehran did not expect IS to return to its former strength on Afghan soil.
“Afghanistan is quite different from Iraq and Syria and IS will not be able to rise in Afghanistan the way it did in Iraq and Syria, unless their sponsors put a lot of resources into it. Unlike the neighbors or Iran and Syria, Afghanistan’s neighbors would be blocking the movements of IS fighters across the borders and cut their supply lines. An also Afghan people will not accept that ideology because their culture is different,” he explained.
Nevertheless, major players should stay vigilant and not allow IS to rise in some other place, Hatami added.