Tensions Between Iran and the West Escalate

The suspension of diplomatic relations between Canada and Iran, initiated by Canada with the closing of the Canadian embassy in Iran and expellingof Iranian diplomats from Canada is a significant political statement resulting from years of uneasy relations. Accusations and reactions are plentiful and growing as new questions are sparked about the future of Canadian, even Western relations with Iran, or apparent lack thereof.

The cited reasons for Canada’s decision to suspend relations included Iran’s nuclear program and threats against Israel, Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and apparent history of mistreatment of diplomatic personnel. With this announcement it has been said that under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act both Iran and Syria have been listed as state sponsors of terrorism.

Iran’s embassy in Ottawa was soon officially closed. Soon after this announcement they issued a warning to their citizens strongly discouraging travel to Canada. Reasoning for this is a believed growth in “Iranophobia” and “Islamophobia.” The Iranian government has said it believes its citizens are more vulnerable to hate groups within Canada now that they do not have an embassy in Ottawa. Iranian officials called Canada’s decision “hostile” and “unwise,” promising a response.

Iran also says it will boycott the 2013 Oscar awards in retaliation of the California based anti-Islam film. Iran is urging other Islamic countries to follow suit. Also, in reaction to the film, Iran has blocked You-Tube and Google.

Canadian and American officials walked out before Iran’s president could speak at the United Nations Assembly. The President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was reportedly less abrasive in his speech this year than in past years. He pleaded for a new world order in which the United States would be less of a bully. Canadians and Americans were the only two diplomatic groups to leave. In past years they have been joined by various European diplomats who did not feel the need to boycott the speech this year. All diplomats later returned to the meeting.

The implications of this political turmoil are subtle now but will grow to be more than apparent. Already many have expressed discomfort with the actions of both sides, wondering if there wasn’t a less extreme way for the two governments to express their disapproval of each other. Travelers and immigrants originating from both countries are already finding themselves particularly affected in terms of paperwork and travel ability