After eight years of President Obama’s incendiary efforts to couple an expanding American welfare state with a laissez-faire approach to U.S. borders, America is finally launching a real debate over immigration policy. In our democracy, there’s room for everything from the weepy Sen. Chuck Schumer to the defiant President Trump. My hope is that America ends up willing to take as many refugees — and immigrants generally — as possible, subject to genuine regard for American security and preservation of our rambunctious democracy and its Constitution.
What America emphatically does not need, however, is the voice of Tehran’s terror-sponsoring regime insinuating itself anywhere in this immigration debate. Which is exactly what Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, has been trying to do with his recent comments that Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order on immigration is “a great gift to extremists.” Calling Trump’s order a “Muslim ban” (which it is not), Zarif has accused the Trump administration of intruding into the friendship between the American and Iranian people, and aiding “terrorist recruitment” by “deepening fault lines exploited by extremist demagogues to swell their ranks.”
Zarif’s statements (in which Zarif himself was de facto doing plenty to encourage terrorists and deepen fault lines) were put out on Twitter, replayed via Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), and amplified by Al Jazeera, under the headline “Zarif: Trump’s Muslim ban ‘great gift to extremists'” — along with Al Jazeera’s report that some 45% of the would-be travelers to America affected by Trump’s order are from Iran, and that “more than a million Iranians live in the United States.”
In case it sounds touching that Zarif should be so concerned about the well-being of America, let’s be clear on what’s really going on here. Zarif, while presenting himself as an enemy of “extremists,” is a prominent official voice of an Iranian regime that has ranked for years as the Middle East’s biggest Old Boys’ Club of “extremism.” The Tehran government Zarif represents is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. He speaks for a regime which since Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution has as a matter of messianic government policy recruited, trained and funded legions of terrorists — a poisonous influence emanating from the Middle East, a self-declared existential threat to Israel, and home to officially blessed chants of “Death to America.”
According to the State Department’s most recent report on State Sponsors of Terrorism, covering 2015, “Iran continued its terrorist related activity… including support for Hizballah, Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.” State noted that Iran views the terror-sponsoring Assad regime in Syria as “a crucial ally”; that Tehran-backed Shia terrorist groups have “exacerbated sectarian tensions in Iraq and have committed serious human rights abuses”; and that “Iran has also provided weapons, funding and training to Shia militants in Bahrain,” including such gee-gaws as “a bomb-making facility” which, when discovered by the Bahraini government, was housing 1.5 tons of high-grade explosives.
As for Zarif’s charges that the Trump administration is imperiling the friendship between the people of Iran and the people of America, let’s recall that Iran’s Islamic Republic, from the year of its inception right up to the present, has made a practice of seizing and holding Americans as de facto hostages — including the prisoners whose release in Jan. 2016 came coincident with (or, as it now appears, no coincidence?) President Obama’s secret hustling of $1.7 billion in cash to Iran’s terror-sponsoring government. Nor does it help the cause of friendship that Iran — despite its official promise to abjure a nuclear weapons program — continues, as it did just last week, to test ballistic missiles (for which the only realistic use is delivering nuclear weapons).
It is the Tehran regime itself that is the prime cause of misery for people who would like to travel from Iran to America, or vice versa. If Zarif’s real concern is to fight terrorism and encourage the free flow of people between Iran and America, what he really ought to do is resign his post and call for an end to the repressive and terror-sponsoring Tehran government that he himself, under Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has for decades so zealously served. That would be the right and decent move; an honest and genuinely useful contribution to world affairs.
Not that Zarif is even remotely likely to do any such thing. But unless he takes the highly improbable course of placing blame where it belongs — on his own government — his indignant opinions about U.S. immigration policy are of less than zero value. They are of a piece with those Iran visas extended to the series of American citizens who took the bait and ended up in Iran’s prisons, held as chits for Tehran’s political extortion rackets. Such are the contributions of Iran’s regime to the cause of international friendships and open exchange of people. Please spare us.