Monday, February 6, 2017

Iraqis angry at Trump travel ban

(January 27) Iraqi MPs say that it is very likely the Iraqi government will respond to the executive order banning all Iraqis from visiting the U.S. for 30 days by initiating a retaliatory ban on Americans wanting to visit Iraq.

While all of Iraq is upset by the ban, Iraqi Kurdistan is particularly incensed as they have been trying to forge business ties with U.S. businesses. Some analysts warn that retaliation might rile up the Trump administration and warned that a mutual ban could hurt Iraq much more than it would the U.S. On the other hand, it might gain Iraqi politicians some needed public support for standing up to Trump. The Kurds are particularly angry since they have supported the U.S. for years.
When he first began to campaign for president Trump called for a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States". The country needed to "figure out what was going on". Later during his campaign he altered the policy to a suspension of "immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur". He has made good on that promise. In addition to Iraq the ban applies to Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. Missing from the list are several Muslim-majority countries where Trump has businesses. An article in Fortune shows a map of the countries black-listed in the Middle East and those not. Those not listed include Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the home of many 9/11 terrorists.
The draft order was titled ‘Protecting the nation from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.," and states that: “The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.” The order says that the U.S. cannot allow those into the U.S. who are hostile to it or who place violent religious edicts over U.S. law. The order is for at least 30 days until the government is able to review and tighten immigrant screening processes. Renas Jano, a member of the foreign relations committee in the Iraqi parliament said: “There is mutual treatment between Iraq and the U.S. in terms of diplomatic relations and visa issuance. It is very likely that Iraq might suspend issuing visas to U.S. citizens following the U.S. president’s decision to suspend visas to Iraqi citizens.” However, Jano also noted that Iraq had a lot to lose if it started a fight with the U.S.: “If Iraq responds the same way to Trump’s decision by suspending visas to U.S. citizens, we will lose a lot, as there is a big American force here helping us in our war against ISIS. In addition, there are many U.S. diplomats and business people here. The decision will also disfavor Iraqi students too.”
In the Kurdish region people on the street expressed anger to reporters. In Erbil a man in his sixties said: "The Peshmerga have been fighting terror and making sacrifices in this way. Is this the reward? Calling us terrorists? In fact, they brought terror to this country They have to separate the Kurdistan Region from this decision as many people will be damaged due to this decree." Another Kurdistani Osman Rauf Osman said: "This problem has to be solved through diplomatic talks. If the Iraqi government takes such measures, the U.S. will stay away from us and this certainly will not be in favor of the Kurdistan Region at this critical time." However Hemn Maghdid said that U.S. visas were already difficult to get. He said that he thought the move was pre-planned but would not last long.


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