January 03, 2017
Iran announced that President Trump’s ban on issuing visas to Iranians was “illegal, inhumane and a violation of human rights” and that Iran will respond by doing the same thing.
First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri made that announcement Monday, adding that Iran was the most civilized nation in the world, according to the state news agency. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif announced that Iran had stopped issuing visas to Americans.
Some obviously believed the visa ban was just so much hot air, and, indeed, Iran has often made such announcements of retaliatory action but then done nothing. USA Wrestling announced it was still planning to send a team to a tournament in Kermanshah in mid-February.
It is standard practice for the Islamic Republic to announce reciprocal action when a foreign country does something to Iran that it does not like. However, it seemed odd that the country would adopt a polity it labeled “illegal and inhumane.”
Furthermore, the Islamic Republic under President Rohani has launched an effort to attract big paying tourists to the country, so the exclusion of the world’s biggest payers looked a bit like shooting oneself in the foot. However, only 4,559 Americans visited Iran in 2015, according to UN figures, so the Islamic Republic wouldn’t be losing much.
President Rohani also took after Trump by criticizing his plan to build a wall along the border with Mexico. He said countries should build bridges, not walls. But the Islamic Republic has been boasting for years about continuing construction of a wall (and ditches) along the Pakistani and Afghan borders, mainly designed to keep drug traffickers out.
Of the seven countries targeted by Trump, Iran is the only one so far to announce any retaliatory action.
The Iraqi parliament passed a bill barring Americans, but Prime Minister Heydar al-Abadi refused to sign it. He told a news conference, “I do consider this [Trump] decision as an insult to Iraq and Iraqis. Iraqis should be thanked for the sacrifices we make in fighting terrorism. I do not want to abuse the American people in the same way [Trump is abusing Iraqis].”
The official propaganda organs in Iran have made a major issue of the Trump visa ban, using it to try to convince Iranians that Americans hate them.
A Foreign Ministry statement said the United States “has targeted the Iranian people in an obvious insult to each and every member of the Iranian nation, which exposes as baseless the American assertions about friendship for the Iranian people despite differences with the Iranian government…. The US government holds a collective grudge against all Iranians worldwide.”
What the Islamic Republic does not say is that it is actually happy with the visa ban, since Iran is plagued with an enormous brain drain of skilled Iranians seeking to go to the United States. Trump has actually done the regime a great favor.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said no Iranian had ever been involved in any terrorist action. However, at least three living in the United States have been charged with terrorist activity.
• A high school student in Virginia was induced by a classmate to fly to Syria to join the Islamic State. He apparently did not know his family was Shia and that the Islamic State hates Shias. What has happened to him is unknown.