Iranian Calgarians worry about severed diplomatic ties

Some Iranian Calgarians say they're not happy that Canada is severing diplomatic relations with Iran.

Canada closes embassy in Iran, expels Iranian diplomats

Calgary engineer Majid Saeedi says he's frustrated that Canada has cut all diplomatic ties with Iran. (CBC)

Some Iranian Calgarians say they're not happy that Canada is severing diplomatic relations with Iran.


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The federal government has ordered the Canadian embassy in Tehran closed and told Iranian diplomats in Canada to leave.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said it was because of Iran's military support for the Syrian government, and its refusal to end its nuclear program and continued threats against Israel.

Majid Saeedi, an Iran-born Calgarian, said the closure makes the situation more tense.

"That’s not a good move, not for Iranians, not for Iranian Canadians, in particular. It doesn’t help," said Saeedi.

Canada and Iran

Canada’s relations with Iran have been on shaky ground since the 1979 Islamic Revolution:

1980: Canadian embassy closed for eight years after Canadians spirit U.S. diplomats out of Tehran during the post-revolution hostage crisis.

1996: Two countries cap a gradual return to normal diplomatic relations with an exchange of ambassadors.

2003: Relationship chills after Zahra Kazemi, a freelance photographer with dual Canadian-Iranian citizenship, is killed in custody in Iran, in what Canada describes as a state-sanctioned murder. Canada recalls its ambassador.

2012: After months of increasingly tough talk from Ottawa, Canada suspends all relations, citing several factors including treatment of foreign diplomats, Iran's support for Syria and its threats against Israel.

- The Canadian Press and CBC News

"We fear about the whole bigger picture, which is war."

Saeedi said he's disappointed and frustrated with the closure, especially when considering that the Russian embassy in Canada is still open, even though Russia also supports Syria.

"It's just this double standard doesn't give me a good feel and buzz about the international policy of the Canadian government at the moment," said Saeedi.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird made the announcement Friday at a trade summit in Russia.

Calgarian Shauhen Etminan said it’s a difficult time for Iranian Canadians.

"When something like this happens, when our second home goes through a hostile relation with our first home, everything becomes very… it’s complicated, you know."

In Edmonton, the University of Alberta’s Ahmad Sabetghadam said the decision could mean serious problems for students from Iran.

"All of a sudden I said 'Oh my God, what's going to happen to all these students who come here on a visa basis?'" said Sabetghadam, who teaches Farsi.

"There's a lot of financial matters have to be taken care of usually done through the embassy, too."