The Trump administration’s rising criticism of Iran is being noticed in Metro Vancouver.
Amid the escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran in recent weeks and fear of a possible military confrontation, Iranian Canadians are worried about the situation as they follow the events with dismay.
In Vancouver, people who trace their roots back to Iran say any military confrontation will have no winner.
Kei Esmeailpour, an Iranian-born Canadian citizen who immigrated with his family to Canada in 2002, says he is extremely concerned about a war between his native country, Iran, and the United States.
“Everyone is worried about [the] rising tension between the U.S. and Iran,” Esmaeilpour, who lives in Burnaby, tells the Straight. “War is destructive. No one wants war. Whenever humans had a war, citizens suffer from its consequences for the decades.”
Esmaeilpour, who is a political activist in the Lower Mainland Iranian community, says nearly four decades after the Iran-Iraq war, which claimed over a million lives, Iranian citizens are still suffering from the consequences and “don’t want another war”.
“Iranian don’t want another destructive curse; we want to live in a peaceful world, like what we have in Canada. This is the Iranian people’s will. We need an accountable government which reflects the will of our citizens,” Esmaeilpour says.
For Iman Moradi, an Iranian Canadian and UBC science student, thinking about a possible war between his native country Iran and the U.S. is “worrying”. The Vancouver resident says it will be a “nightmare to see a war happen”.
Moradi, 21, who moved to Canada four years ago, is worried about his family and loved ones back in his home country of Iran. He warns that there “won’t be a good ending” for either side if war breaks out between the U.S. and Iran.
“I'm worried, for sure. Iran is where I come from. It is part of my identity. It is an attack on our friends. Some of my family members are still there. Somehow, it is very personal, having uncles, having best friends living there,” says Moradi. “Being an Iranian, you grow up proud of your history.”
He added that a war, especially one started without smart reasons, “could take that country apart forever”.
Foreign minister accuses U.S. of playing dangerous game
The Trump administration is ramping up its policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran. On May 19, President Donald Trump hardened his rhetoric against Iran by tweeting “if Iran wants to fight that will be the official end of Iran”.
“Never threaten the United States again!” Trump added.
Citing “a credible threat” by Iranian forces to America earlier this month, the U.S. deployed its aircraft carrier, USS Abraham Lincoln, and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf.
Meanwhile, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif accuses the U.S. of “playing a very, very dangerous game” by increasing its military presence in the region.
In an interview with CNN on May 21, Zarif criticized the U.S. for sending its carrier and a bomber task force to the region.
“Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents. Extreme prudence is required,” Zarif said.
The U.S. is pressuring the Iranian regime to come to the negotiating table. Earlier this month, Trump said Iran should be “calling me up”. But so far, Iran continues to refuse to engage in talks with the U.S.
But Zarif says his country won’t negotiate with the U.S. unless Washington shows “respect” to Tehran.
“Iran never negotiates with coercion," the foreign minister said. "You cannot threaten an Iranian and expect them to engage. The way to do it is through respect, not through threats."
Last year, the United States announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and restored its sanctions. The nuclear deal, which was signed between Iran, the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany in 2015, was designed to limit Iran’s nuclear capability in return for the lifting of sanctions.
One year after the United States’ departure from the Iran nuclear deal, earlier this month, Iran announced that it is also partially halting its compliance to the landmark nuclear deal. The Tehran government gave the remaining signatories of the accord until July 7 to ease restrictions on Iran’s sanctioned banking and oil sectors or face retaliation.
Trump, who has repeatedly called the Iran nuclear accord “the worst deal ever negotiated”, withdrew his country from the agreement, hoping to renegotiate with the clerical regime.
Tehran, however, has repeatedly said it won’t engage in any dialogue with the Trump administration unless it honours the U.S. commitments under the disputed JCPOA.
On May 21, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said now isn’t the time for talks with the United States, adding that “resistance” is the only choice for his sanctions-hit country.