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News Analysis

Trump’s hostility towards Iran and his proximity towards Israel was clear from his repeated statements before and after the elections. But even then inclusion of Iran in Trump’s list of seven Muslim countries facing immediate travel ban has thrown Iranian rank and file into a panic mode.

Iranian government, of moderate Hassan Ruhani, who has to enter a presidential election process soon, has called it a victory of the hardliners. Human Rights Watch, a US based international NGO also thinks the same:

 

Iran’s government, now under pressure from its own hardliners, who had opposed any rapprochement with the US- the great Satan, has also reciprocated by slapping similar restrictions on issuing visas to US nationals.

 

Future of Iran-US Nuclear Deal? 

The crucial question on almost every mind in Tehran is: what now is the future of Iran-US Nuclear Deal? This deal, concluded in 2015, after prolonged negotiations of several years between Iran, US, Russia and several European countries including UK and Germany was considered a game changer. It finally promised to break inertia of past four decades. Iran, that had faced international isolation since the Islamic revolution of Imam Khomeini in 1979 looked like all set to enter the US lead international economic and political system, in turn western governments and companies were eager to penetrate Iran’s oil driven economy.

Iranians remember that Israel had bitterly opposed the Iran-US Nuclear Deal officially called as the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) which it considered a threat for its security. However Obama administration not only ignored Netanyahu’s repeated objections but was also able to bring along several European allies into the deal that was then consider the ‘game changer’ in terms of broadening US and western interests in the greater middle east. Deal also offered the potential of making Iran part of the US lead global economy. United States’s Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and UAE also feared that the US is abandoning them and courting Iran in a new balance of power game in the region.

Trump, as mentioned in the outset, was always critical of the Iran-US Nuclear deal; he reportedly called it, in his distinct adjective laden style as, “very very bad deal”. Trump also bitterly opposed the Obama administration’s recent lack of support for Israel in the UN Security Council on the issue of Israeli settlements. All these issues are now on Iranian media’s mind.

Read more: Why Russia, Turkey, and Iran are natural allies

What then is the future of US-Iran Nuclear Deal; it remains to be seen? Most US security analysts, think tanks, and European governments, traditional allies of the US consider the US-Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) integral to widening western influence in the region dominated by Arab monarchies. It was also seen as a much needed strategic initiative to align western liberal democracies with a reasonably stable state in the region – a state that confronts US as a national policy but has no anti-western militias or proxy militants running amok inside its geographical territory eager to launch attacks against the US interests.

Iranian analysts and columnists in media have now warned the government in Tehran to prepare plans for countering Trump’s decisions. The reported executive orders, which could increase pressure on Iran’s moderate President Hassan Rouhani by hard-liners who accuse him of being soft on the West, have notably prompted both Reformist and conservative newspapers to adopt relatively similar stances on the issue.

What are Iranian Analysts saying? 

Under the headline “Trump against Iranians,” the Reformist Shahrvand daily wrote Jan. 26, “The new US President Donald Trump has quickly entered the political stage and is making all of his efforts to destroy the legacy of Barack Obama.” The Reformist Shargh newspaper also covered the reported restrictions on the entry of Iranians to the United States, writing Jan. 26, “Donald Trump … has taken a hold of a pen, and is fulfilling every one of his electoral promises, and is scaring thousands of people across the world by every decision he is making. The United States of America, the country which is founded on immigration and racial diversity, is now witnessing one of its most anti-immigrant presidents of its history in the White House.”

The lack of the presence of Saudi Arabia’s name on the list of [countries whose citizens will face visa] limitations … is very ambiguous, and raises the question of whether Trump is seeking a flexible policy toward Saudis, and whether the strict decisions are just for Iran and its regional allies?

Considering the reported visa ban as an alarming sign for Iran, the Reformist Arman daily wrote Jan. 26, “One week after going to the White House, Trump has limited the issuing of visas to Iranian citizens along with some other African countries and [countries in] the region, except Saudi Arabia. … The lack of the presence of Saudi Arabia’s name on the list of [countries whose citizens will face visa] limitations … is very ambiguous, and raises the question of whether Trump is seeking a flexible policy toward Saudis, and whether the strict decisions are just for Iran and its regional allies? … Seemingly, Trump is attempting to impose a strict policy against Iran more than other countries. read more: Saudi King Agrees to Trump’s suggestion on safe zones in Syria.

Read more: Trump set to restrict immigration: no entry to USA for visa holders from Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran and 3 other African nations

This is why Tehran should prepare itself for the strict [policies] of Trump, especially regarding the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” paper argues.

This is why Tehran should prepare itself for the strict [policies] of Trump, especially regarding the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].” paper argues.

While countries with active insurgencies and presence of anti-western or anti-American militant groups – like Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen- would make sense to be included in a visa restriction order, but why Iran?

Iranians opine – with lot of credibility – that many of the terrorist attacks across the world have been perpetrated by Saudi-born attackers while Iranian citizens have had no role in such violent events. While countries with active insurgencies and presence of anti-western or anti-American militant groups – like Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen- would make sense to be included in a visa restriction order, but why Iran? this is what most Iranians on the street are arguing. As such, they believe the presence of Iran on the list of countries targeted by Trump’s reported executive orders is unfair. Under the headline “The orders of a populist,” the Reformist Jahan-e-Sanat newspaper on Jan. 26 described Trump’s reported move as “extremist-like” and a “political gesture,” arguing that the US president’s measures are just showing-off.

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