Iran Bans US Citizens and Drops Dollar in Response to Trump’s “Muslim Ban”
U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order on immigration which bans the entry of
nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia. Set to last for 90 days, the order is applied to citizens with valid US visas and even those who are Green Card holders. Asylum requests from these countries will be suspended for 120 days and indefinitely terminated for Syrians. Trump stated, however, that Christians from Muslim-majority countries will be given priority, an effective test on religion for immigration to the United States. In response, the Iranian government has taken reciprocal measures, saying that it will ban U.S. citizens from entering Iran and stop using the U.S. dollar for official financial and foreign exchange reports beginning in March.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are over 470,000 Iranian-Americans, but other sources estimate that there are around 1,000,000. These numbers include Green Card holders, residents, and dual-citizens, but not visa holders. Starting January 28, Iranian nationals among others were detained in airports around the United States.
The move by President Trump to include Iranians in the immigration ban has generated responses from leaders around the world, with the harshest response coming from Tehran. Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif tweeted: “#MuslimBan will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters” after an official announcement that Iran would begin a ban on U.S. citizens receiving Iranian visas and relax visa requirements for dozens of other nations. Those currently in possession of valid Iranian visas will be unaffected. “Unlike the U.S., our decision is not retroactive. All with valid Iranian visa will be gladly welcomed,” Zarif tweeted.
President Hassan Rouhani responded to the ban via Twitter as well, calling for international cooperation and arguing against the building of walls, referencing Trump’s call for a wall along the Mexican border.
In a television interview on January 30, governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Valiollah Seif, announced the decision to move to a different currency, implying a switch to the Euro. Iran-U.S. trade is minimal due to sanctions. Iran’s largest trade partners are the UAE (24 percent of imports and exports), China (22 percent), Turkey, India, and the EU (six percent).
Safar-Ali Karamati, Deputy Director of International Affairs for Marketing and Crude Oil Operation of the state-owned National Iranian Oil Co, cited the single monetary unit as the reason that Iran’s “top priority” is to use the euro.
“Iran's difficulties [in dealing] with the dollar were in place from the time of the primary sanctions and this trend is continuing, but we face no limitations regarding other currencies,” Seif said in the interview. Iran is set to receive $41 billion in oil revenues this year.
Several hours after the ban was enacted at many airports across the U.S., the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced that the ban would be challenged by the U.S. Federal Court, following an announcement by a New York federal judge who granted stay to those denied entry. The grant by the judge prevents the detainees from being deported.
Although relations between Tehran and Washington were easing in the wake of the Iran Nuclear Deal, they will remain tense as long as the ban is in place.