By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday September 11, 2012
Canada abruptly cuts off ties with Tehran
The Harper government’s surprise decision Friday to suspend diplomatic relations with Iran is being seen as a pre-emptive move in anticipation of tougher action against the Islamic Republic.
Exactly what that will entail is unclear, with analysts predicting everything from Canada listing the infamous Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group to preparing for an Israeli military strike against Iran.
The unexpected decision has prompted mixed reactions at home and abroad, with Israel’s prime minister offering applause but former Canadian ambassadors warning Canada has lost a vital “window” into what’s happening inside the Islamic Republic.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, in Russia attending an APEC summit with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, announced Friday that Canada was closing its embassy in Tehran, primarily over concerns for the safety of Canadian diplomats.
“Our diplomats serve Canada as civilians and their safety is my Number 1 priority,” he told reporters. “They don’t sign up to be put in harm’s way.”
In addition, Baird said all Iranian diplomats in Canada had been ordered out of the country within the next five days.
The government also officially listed Iran as a terrorist state, meaning victims of terrorism can sue the Islamic Republic under Canadian law.
Baird did not specify what threats Canadian diplomats are facing, prompting rampant speculation among analysts. (Source: Ottawa Citizen)