State Depratment warns dual citizens to stay away from Iran

In light of the detention and charging of three American-Iranians in Tehran recently, the State Department yesterday issued a warning to dual Iranian-American citizens that they may face difficulties leaving Iran.



"Some elements of the Iranian regime and the population remain hostile to the United States. As a result, American citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran," the warning said.


Leaving aside hostilities between the Iranian and US regimes, it is, in my opinion, misleading to suggest that the Iranian population is hostile to US citizens. Iranian people may not like US policy in the Middle East but they differentiate between the government and its people.


Many Iranians still recall the CIA-engineered coup of 1953 when the well-loved and democratically elected prime minister, Dr Mossadegh, was overthrown and an unpopular and despotic Shah was reinstated. Mossadegh's line of nationalism included taking back the oil industry for the Iranian nation, a move that infuriated Great Britain who, at the time, ran the Iranian oil industry, giving Iranians low-level jobs and the country just 16% of the profits.


America, up until then regarded as a great friend of Iran's – which had suffered years of virtual colonialism from GB and Russia – was a key player in the decision to bring back and support the Shah, who was seen as an ally in the Cold War. With Iran sharing northern borders with the Soviet Union, it was crucial to the US to have Iran ran by someone friendly to the US.


And so, with total disregard to the wishes of an Iranian populace who loved Mossadegh and the glimpse of democracy his years in power showed them, the American/British coup discarded Mossadegh and plopped the Shah back on the Peacock Throne, where he served the interests of the US for the remainder of his increasingly dictatorial rule.


US support for the Shah who used his secret police to intimidate the populace and eliminate any opposition or meaningful debate tarnished the great power's image for many Iranians. But nevertheless, even after the revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, ordinary Iranians continue to admire American culture and look to that country for inspiration at every level.


Iranians are not only profoundly hospitable, they are genuinely curious about America and the West, an interest sadly not commonly shown the other way. Should an American citizen choose to visit Iran, I doubt very much that they would encounter any personal hostility or be held to account for their government's misdeeds in Iran and the region. It's time that both regimes stopped using ordinary people in their political games.

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About Kamin Mohammadi

Kamin Mohammadi is an Iranian writer, journalist, broadcaster and commentator who lives in London where she moved after leaving Iran as a child. She specialises in writing about Iran, particularly modern society. She is passionate about bringing out the human elements of the stories we see, or more often don’t see, in the news. To this end she has published major pieces on the after effects of the Iran-Iraq war, drug addiction and AIDS in Iran, the innocent civilian victims of chemical bombardments, sexual politics and even the Iranian penchant for both devotion to religion and partying. She is currently writing a family memoir about Iran, to be published in 2009 by Bloomsbury and working on a cross-media project to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war. In the past she has written guide books and edited glossy magazines.

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