Iranian Diplomacy|Kaveh L. Afrasiabi: US President Donald Trump’s executive order that imposes a temporary ban on US entry for nationals of several Muslim countries including Iran and Iraq is an initial exercise in Islamophobia/Iranophobia, which is bound to expand to other areas in the future.
With respect to Iran, this order in effect labels Iran as a “terror country” and stigmatizes Iran in the international community. It is meant as a psychological warfare that aims to disempower Iran and isolate it by attaching to it the terrorist label or, alternatively, radical Islam label, so clumsily rationalized by the now national security adviser Mike Flynn in his book, Fields of Fight. Flynn makes no distinction between ISIS and Iran and lumps them together under the rubric of radical Islam. He explicitly calls for a new Russia strategy that seeks to split Russia from Iran and form a Moscow-Washington common cause against the threat of radical Islam. The whole premise of Trump’s foreign policy is that the Christian world led by US is in a mortal civilizational fight with Islam and US can and should work on Russia to change course.
Although temporary, the visa ban is a high profile US policy decision that calls for immediate and firm Iranian response commensurate with Iran’s prestige and identity. The new White House is in dire need of a wakeup call that it cannot mistreat Iran like a third or fourth class power and receive no backlashes. Inaction is not an option and mere criticism of the unfair and unjustified US policy against Iran does not wash either. Only a resolute and determined response that reciprocates fully by banning visas to US citizens can be considered appropriate from the prism of Iran’s national interests. US and its allies are apt to misinterpret any sub-optimal Iranian response as a sign of its weakness, and this is harmful to Iran’s regional interests as well. Therefore, the only real option for Iran is to stand up to US’s bullying and publicly denounce the move and adopt the necessary measures to defend Iran’s prestige and regional and global standing.