The Results of the Cutting Off of Relations between Ottawa and Tehran

Transmission Of Canada’s Decision Is Dangerous

11 September 2012 | 07:18 Code : 1906670 Interview General category
An interview with Dr. Ali Bigdeli, university professor and international affairs expert
Transmission Of Canada’s Decision Is Dangerous


What is your assessment of Canada's recent measure in closing its embassy in Tehran? Were the reasons expressed by Canada for taking this measure really important in closing the embassy?

Issues that have been mentioned in the statement made by Canada as the reasons for closing its embassy in Iran have had impacts on this measure. Nevertheless, an official statement of the Foreign Ministry cannot include false and incorrect matters. Certainly, issues raised by Canada's Foreign Ministry have been effective in closing this country's embassy in Iran; but this decision can have other faces as well, for it has been a very important decision and making it under the present circumstances can bring special points and messages. It should be mentioned that Canada is considered as Britain's affiliate. When the embassy of Britain was closed after an attack on this embassy in Tehran and Britain cut off its relations with Iran, many inside Iran stated that this issue would be temporary and soon the embassy would be reopened. Even Mr. Salehi and the Speaker of the Foreign Ministry condemned the attack against the embassy and Mr. Salehi met with William Haig, Britain's Foreign Minister, in Afghanistan. He had even declared his readiness to take steps toward solving this problem; but with the measure taken by Canada, it is clear that the West's hostility towards us is deeply rooted and not a temporary issue. Therefore, there is a possibility that, in the future, the embassies of France, Italy, and other western countries in Iran would be closed. From the aspect of the West's general approach, this issue is important. It means that the importance of this matter is not limited to Canada's decision in closing its embassy in Iran; rather what is important is that this trend is intensifying and possibly the Australian embassy, which is affiliated to the US and Britain, will also be closed soon. They might state the same reasons for taking such a measure. Therefore, it must be stated that a dangerous wave is forming. This wave, at least among commonwealth states, is expanding. It means that it is possible that New Zealand might also take the same step, because these countries are affiliated with Britain; this wave can even reach the European Union. Of course, some have analyzed this issue with pessimism, stating that this measure taken by Canada can be indicative of the growing possibility of a military attack against Iran. In other words, considering the fact that in less than 60 days US elections will be held and taking note of Israel's growing threats and relations between the Israeli Prime Minister and American officials, this measure might be a sign of the closeness of war. But, in my opinion, this view is very pessimistic.

During recent months, the issue of the escape of the former Head of the Central Bank, against which accusations were made in Iran, was one of the arguments in relations between Iran and Canada and Iran expected his extradition by Canada. Has this issue impacted relations between the two countries?

No. In my opinion, this is not an important issue. First of all, we do not have an agreement with Canada with regards to the extradition of criminals. I believe that the issue of Ms. Zahra Kazemi has greater importance in this matter. But the case of Mr. Khavari cannot be that important for Canada to close its embassy. It should be noted that the case of extradition was an issue which Iran pursued and Iran was not willing to damage its relations with this country. Therefore, I believe that the reasons stated by Canada's Foreign Ministry have been more effective. 

Don't you think that if such a measure was taken after the closure of Britain's embassy, it could have had more propagandistic and domino effects? Why was such a step taken several months after that incident and under present conditions and so suddenly?

We should take note that this step was not taken suddenly, and Canada's decision was not made overnight. First, they closed down their consulate section in the middle of spring and transferred it to Turkey. This is while the importance of the consulate section is more for the people than the government. Therefore, this measure has had roots and reasons.

You mentioned the case of Zahra Kazemi. Some have mentioned that the promotion of Mr. Mortazavi in the government has been a negative sign for Canada. In your opinion, what has been Canada's role in this measure?

This is an important issue. It seems that Canada has been unsatisfied with the promotion of a person, to the level of minister, who is considered by this country as responsible for the death of one of its citizens. Therefore, in the statement issued by Canada's Foreign Ministry with regard to the closure of its embassy in Tehran, the issue of Iran's support of terrorism and human rights has been mentioned. It seems that the case of Mr. Mortazavi has had an impact on the decision of the Canadians. 

In any case, the sum of all these elements has been effective in this measure. It is certain that the embassy of Canada in Tehran has some interests which are now threatened. Of course, our relations with Canada were limited to political relations and there were not much economic relations. Basically, western countries, at the present time, do not seek economic interests with us, because, due to Iran's sanctions, they cannot have economic relations with our country. Canada, which completely enforces these sanctions, is especially not after economic interests. It is based on this reason that I stated that this measure will possibly be transmitted to other countries, because there are no economic interests and our political relations with western countries are at a low level. 

Iran’s cultural attaché in Canada recently made some comments to the effect that Iranians living in Canada should provide services to their country. How have these comments affected the recent Canadian measure?

This issue can have its effects too. As I said, this Canadian act was not made out of the blue. Before that, Canada had closed the bank accounts of some Iranians living in that country. It had also made some limitations for student visas. All these measures were precursors for what has transpired. 


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