By Hassan al-Shanoun for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Armed Iraqi factions threaten to target Americans in response to travel ban
US President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order to ban nationals of Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days has caused a great uproar among Iraqis.
Although the travel ban has been temporarily halted by the US judiciary, the repercussions of the event are still ongoing in Iraq. Iraqis see the travel ban as an insult and a betrayal of the people standing against and fighting to defeat the Islamic State.
On Jan. 30, the Iraqi parliament voted to recommend that reciprocal measures be taken against the travel ban. The day before, Iraqi Shiite cleric and Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr had called on Trump to tell American nationals to leave Iraq.
The Iraqi parliament also recommended calling upon the United Nations, international organizations, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to take stands on the issue, calling upon the US Congress to review the executive order and demanding that the US administration restudy its decision.
Ibtisam al-Hilali, a member of the Reform Front, told Al-Monitor that the government and executive authorities need to carry out the parliament’s reciprocal measures if the US ban resumes.
Asked whether Iraq could influence the US decision, Hilali said, “Adopting diplomatic approaches is the best means to force the American side to renounce this rushed decision; otherwise the government and the relevant authorities should implement the parliament’s action to maintain Iraq’s dignity.”
On Jan. 30, the US Department of Defense said it is cooperating with the White House and other institutions to put together a list of all Iraqi nationals who worked with the United States since its invasion of Iraq in 2003 to exclude them from the travel ban. These efforts, however, have not helped ease the issue in Iraq.
On Jan. 31, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that his government is discussing a set of options “in response” and expressed his hopes of getting Trump’s order changed; Abadi described it as an insult to Iraq and Iraqis. However, he said he has no intention of taking reciprocal measures.