Iranians were not the only target of President Donald Trump’s executive
order Friday banning entry to the United States, nor did they appear to
be its primary focus. Citizens of six other predominantly Muslim
countries were caught up in the sudden move to slam shut the doors of
this country to individuals not on the basis of anything they had done,
but simply because of where they happened to be born.
Among those were groups that deservedly draw tremendous sympathy from
some corners of the American political establishment and much of the
broader public, such as Iraqi interpreters who risked everything to
assist American soldiers there and Syrian refugees who have suffered
untold horrors and typically waited more than two years to join the
meager ranks of those resettled here in America.
In many cases, it was Iranians who provided the human faces of shock and
distress at airports around America last weekend. Despite the long
rupture in diplomatic relations between the two countries, Iran sends
more of its citizens to America via non-immigrant travel—more than 35,000 in 2015 than any of the other six nations included in the new ban, and estimates of Iranians who hold U.S. permanent residency run as high as the hundreds of thousands. Directly or indirectly—the
guidance on implementing the new restrictions continues to evolve—the
entry ban will touch millions within the Iranian diaspora around the
There is much that is reprehensible about Iran’s current government.
The same cannot be said for its people—a diverse, highly educated
population that cherishes its heritage as a great civilization. Which is
why scenes of Iranians whose lives were thrown into chaos by the ban’s
abrupt imposition proved so gripping on social media and the nightly
Iranians have achieved tremendous success in the United States: in
media, sciences, technology and other industries, and serving at the
highest levels of government. However the stories that captured headlines last weekend focused on regular people: the 5 year old boy, an American citizen, who was reportedly handcuffed and separated from his family for hours; the elderly, disabled legal residents, who were denied their medications, doctors from the Cleveland Clinic; the long-time legal resident of a small Massachusetts town who was returning from his father’s funeral.
These were individuals whose perfectly ordinary trips unexpectedly
became legal and logistical nightmares even as they were in the air.
Their treatment upon arrival was so plainly inhumane and inimical to
essential American values that protests erupted across the country,
along with an outpouring of assistance to those left in limbo by the
ban. In its wake has come almost unprecedented formal dissent from the
order at the Departments of Justice, State, and Homeland Security.
Iran has been comically easy to demonize; since the 1979 revolution, the
Islamic Republic’s leadership has practically written the script.
However, the reaction to the travel ban in the halls of government and
in U.S. airports and city streets underscores that even if they feel
(disproportionately) frightened of terrorism, Americans are not prepared
to engage in indiscriminate vilification of the Iranian people, or for
that matter the Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, and others who are blocked
from entry. Trump’s immigration ban misjudged the American people, and
it will prove a historic miscalculation for U.S. standing in the world
and influence in the Middle East.
Trump’s immigration ban misjudged the American people, and it will prove
a historic miscalculation for U.S. standing in the world and influence
in the Middle East.
Regional ripple effects
Within Iran and among the broader diaspora, antipathy toward the
entry ban appears to be intense and nearly universal. This is
noteworthy, if only because the political views of Iranians, both within
the Islamic Republic and among expatriates, tend to be diverse and
fractious. But the measures implemented over the past few days have
ignited widespread indignation among Iranians who may agree on little
else. Travel restrictions, arbitrary detentions, and the generalized
mistrust of minorities: these experiences are all too familiar for
anyone who has experienced the Islamic Republic, and Iranians
understandably hold the United States to a higher standard.
The affront was, no doubt, intentional. There was no better way for the
newly inaugurated President Trump to signal a decisive end to the Obama
administration’s assiduous diplomatic outreach to Iran than to quash
even the most innocuous opportunities for interaction between Americans
and Iranians—and to do so in the most chaotic, costly, and conspicuous
fashion possible. The louder the outcry, the more gratified the core
Trump base, whose distrust of establishment politicians’ tendency toward
compromise helped propel the real estate tycoon’s unlikely campaign to
victory. Iranians, whose own revolutionary enterprise was consolidated
via illegally seizing the U.S. embassy in Tehran and holding its
personnel as hostages, should recognize the domestic political utility
of diplomatic incivility.
However, while the insult to Iranians was almost surely intentional, the
entry ban will likely be regretted, even by its own architects. The
alienation of Iranians and others impacted by the ban may be convenient
for Team Trump’s domestic political agenda, but together with the
broader fallout from the ban around the world, it will undercut what is
intended to be an ambitious diplomatic game plan for countering Iran.
Washington can do very little on Iran in isolation; even unilateral
American sanctions rely on compliance from governments and businesses
around the world, and the military effort to counter Iranian influence
in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria will require robust and effective
cooperation with regional partners.
The masterminds of the seven-country entry ban may have seen it as a
regional confidence-builder—a tangible rebalancing in favor of America’s
traditional Arab allies in the Gulf, where the nuclear deal with Tehran
was perceived as a betrayal. However, while Gulf princes may
momentarily appreciate Iran’s abasement, the precipitousness of the step
and the rhetoric disparaging Muslims and refugees that was associated
with it has stoked anxieties and anger among many in the Middle East and
the broader Muslim world. Trump’s campaign pledge to enact a “Muslim
ban” and the whispered warnings of senior officials about expanding the visa restrictions hint powerfully at a broader vulnerability. None of Washington’s
regional allies can make a credible claim to democratic rule, but all
depend to some extent on popular assent, and the aggravation of
underlying unhappiness with American policies will erode the
underpinnings of our partnerships in the region.
For its part, the Iranian government appears to be playing the travel
plan judiciously, announcing reciprocal measures against American
visitors while intensifying its courtship with Europe. That will blunt
any momentum for a multilateral response to Tehran’s missile launch,
which intended as a shot across the bow of the new White House. For most
of Iran’s leadership, the ban is a welcome windfall —a validation of the revolutionary narrative about American
deviousness and malice, a firewall against further encroachment by
American cultural and political influences, and a blunt instrument with
which to further marginalize any Iranians who might advocate political
reforms or greater openness.
In the inevitable hubris of the administration’s early days, the
White House may see this merely as Tehran’s temporary recovery. But the
estrangement of Iranians really shoots Washington in the foot, too.
Ultimately, the challenges posed by Iran’s revolutionary state can only
be durably resolved by a readiness from within Iran to renegotiate the
country’s relationship with the world. Thanks to the entry ban, the
Trump administration will have even fewer opportunities to shape that
evolution. The ban closed America’s doors to Iranians, but in the long
run it will isolate Washington from any meaningful influence over Iran’s
article lu sur : https://www.brookings.edu/blog/markaz/2017/02/01/first-they-came-for-the-iranians/