Iran said on Saturday it would take reciprocal measures in retaliation to Washington’s visa ban against seven Muslim countries, including Iran, is left adding that this ban is a gift to the extremists.
Trump’s order bans Syrian refugees, claiming they are “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and suspends the refugee admissions program for all countries for 120 days. It will also suspend the issue of visas to nationals of countries where the US believes they do not provide enough information on an applicant to decide whether or not they are a security or public safety threat.
Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here. We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said in a speech at the Pentagon.
Trump’s executive action fulfills his campaign promise to bar Syrian refugees and partially fulfills his vow to temporarily ban Muslims from the U.S. — a promise he later amended to apply only to people from certain Muslim-majority countries.
The order means that about 500,000 green card holders who reside in the U.S. but are originally from one of the seven countries will need a waiver to return to their homes, White House officials said Saturday. It also applies to people from the seven countries who hold dual citizenship and are not U.S. citizens. This means that people of both French and Yemeni nationality, for example, would be denied entry.
It is estimated Iranians could make up nearly half of all the US visa holders coming from the seven countries covered by the ban.
Taking reciprocal measures
“While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.
“The restrictions against travel by Muslims to America… are an open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation in particular and will be known as a great gift to extremists,” said the statement, carried by state media.
Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif said on his Twitter account that the ban is a great gift to the extrimists as “Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault-lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks.”
He added that “International community needs dialogue & cooperation to address the roots of violence & extremism in a comprehensive & inclusive manner.”
This ban “shows the baselessness of US claims of friendship with the Iranian people”, he tweeted too.
Zarif said that Iran will take reciprocal measures to protect citizens, hinting that it would no longer issue visas to US nationals, but he later said that anyone with a previous valid visa will be welcome.
“Unlike the U.S., our decision is not retroactive. All with valid Iranian visa will be gladly welcomed. #MuslimBan 7/7” he wrote.
Iran’s parliament speaker Ali Larijani also slammed Washington’s move.
“This reveals the fear of this US administration. It’s afraid of its own shadow. It has also exposed their brutal racist manner hidden behind their demagogic veneer which pretends to be pro-democracy and pro-human rights. A country that enjoys powerful security doesn’t make such decisions with fear and anxiety,” Larijani said.
Unlike the U.S., our decision is not retroactive. All with valid Iranian visa will be gladly welcomed. #MuslimBan 7/7
— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) January 28, 2017
Iranian citizens and academics stranded
There are an estimated 1 million Iranian-Americans in the United States, including those with U.S. citizenship, dual nationality, and green card holders, so Trump’s executive order could create myriad travel complications.
This could make up nearly half of all the US visa holders coming from the seven countries covered by the ban.
Iranian citizens and academic, who were out of the US when the ban was implemented, were among thousands who got directly effected by this order and can’t go back yet to the US.
Duke University professor and Iranian dissident Mohsen Kadivar left his home in North Carolina 10 days ago to attend a fellowship program in Germany.
Now, stranded in Berlin as a result of new U.S. immigration rules, the longstanding critic of Iran’s ruling clerical establishment does not know whether or when he can rejoin his wife and two children in the United States.
Iranian author Azar Nafisi, a professor of English literature who has lived in the United States since 1997 and became a U.S. citizen nine years later, said the ban was contrary to American values.
“We came to the United States because we believed it is a country of freedom, a country friendly to immigrants. People like me should raise their voice and express their concerns. This is not a political issue,” said Nafisi.
Another Iranian-born academic, Mohammad, said he was returning to his home in the United States after attending his father’s funeral in Tehran, when the ban came into effect.
Turkish Airlines refused to allow him to board his connecting flight to New York from Istanbul, he said.
Mohammad, 42, said the ban was “certainly going to make things harder for mostly well-educated Iranian immigrants.
“I have a green card and have been living in the U.S. for years. My two little daughters are awaiting for me. What can my wife tell them?” he said.
“This is not what I dreamed about America.”
A blow to Rouhani
Earlier on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it was no time to build walls between nations and criticised steps towards cancelling world trade agreements, without naming Trump.
“Today is not the time to erect walls between nations. They have forgotten that the Berlin wall fell years ago,” Rouhani said in a speech carried live on Iranian state television.
“To annul world trade accords does not help their economy and does not serve the development and blooming of the world economy,” Rouhani told a tourism conference in Tehran. “This is the day for the world to get closer through trade.”
The ban is a blow to Rouhani who had promised during his 2013 election campaign to “bring back dignity to the Iranian passport”.
Rouhani thawed Iran’s relations with world powers after years of confrontation and engineered its 2015 deal with them under which it curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from sanctions.
Hardline critics of Rouhani, who is seeking re-election in May, are fanning public anger that the president failed to deliver one of his main promises and that Iran has made many waivers and abandoned its pressure cards without getting anything real in return.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has also regularly criticizes the United States and the deal, saying it should not be trusted and it wasn’t doing its part of the deal.
Khamenei has already promised to “set fire” to the nuclear deal if the West violates it. and has repeatedly complained it has not received benefits promised, and Trump’s ban order would be the execuse that Khamenei and the hardliners have long waited for.
In addition, the ban order also threatens to stoke tensions in the regional cold war between Shia Iran and the Sunni Gulf states that is being fought out through proxy conflicts across the Middle East.
The banned nations are the same as those targeted for tighter visa procedures — but not an outright ban — under the administration of Barack Obama.
The seven include three countries accused by the US of being state-sponsors of terrorism along with other states where Islamist extremism and civil war is rife.
Iranians and others say the ban is driven by regional politics as much as domestic security, expressing frustration that the home nations of the 19 hijackers implicated in the September 11/2001, terrorist attacks — Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — are not on the list.