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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Iraqi PM will not retaliate after Trump imposes travel ban

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump temporarily banned entry to the U.S. for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somaiia, Sudan and Yemen. All are predominantly Muslim countries.

Iraqi president Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that he will not initiate a retaliatory ban on Americans as neighboring Iran has already done. Al-Abadi said he does not want to lose cooperation from Washington in the fight against the Islamic State. When he was asked at a news conference if he would act on a parliamentary motion that favored retaliation, Abadi said: "We will not do anything of the sort. We are studying (possible) decisions but we are in a battle and we don't want to harm the national interest." The U.S. and coalition partners are providing critical air and ground support for Iraqi troops fighting against the Islamic State which in 2014 overran almost a third of Iraq. The are more than 5,000 US troops in Iraq.
Iraqis were already angry at the US because Trump has said that the U.S. should have taken Iraqi oil to help pay for the expense of its invasion and occupation of the country and even suggested that the U.S. might have another chance.
On Monday Iraqi lawmakers called on the government to enact a reciprocal travel ban unless Washington withdrew Trump's order to bar the entry of Iraqis. The 90 day ban was designed to keep the U.S. safe from terrorists according to Trump. The order has already alienated many Iraqis who are fighting against the Islamic State, the very terrorists that the U.S. claims are a threat to the U.S. None of the 9/11 terrorists came from Iraq.
Iraqi MP Hakim al-Zamil said: "Parliament voted by majority on calling on the Iraqi government and the foreign ministry to respond in kind." Another MP Sadiq al-Laban confirmed the motion saying:"We are against this stance from the new administration. We hope that the American administration will rethink... this decision."
The growing backlash within Iraq could undermine relations between the two countries just as the large offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State is in full swing. Hassan Shwairid, the deputy head of the foreign affairs committee made a similar call for retaliation but said that the ban would not apply to any of the U.S. military personnel in the country. Yet U.S. senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham said Trump's would have an impact on military cooperation with Iraq. In a joint statement the two said:"This executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies. Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."
Hashed al-Shaabi a powerful paramilitary umbrella group including Shiite militias that fought the U.S. in the past also demanded that U.S. citizens be banned from Iraq. Units from Hashed al-Shaabi and the American troops are both deployed in Mosul. The Trump order increases the danger to American troops. The popular Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who often fought against the Americans during much of the Iraq war said: "Get your nationals out before removing expatriates."


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