Iraqi MPs call for reciprocal ban on US citizens

Members of parliament call on government to reply in kind to President Donald Trump’s ban on Iraqis entering the US.

Iraqi members of parliament have voted to call on the government to enact a reciprocal travel ban on US citizens, if Washington does not withdraw its decision to prohibit the entry of Iraqis.

The move is a response to US President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries – Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen – from entering the United States for at least 90 days.

The vote on Monday is not thought to be binding on the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government has made no official comment on the order.

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The parliament called on the Baghdad administration to “respond in kind to the American decision in the event that the American side does not to withdraw its decision”, a parliamentary official who was present for the vote told AFP news agency, quoting text of the decision that was read at the session.

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“Parliament voted by majority on calling on the Iraqi government and the foreign ministry to respond in kind,” MP Hakim al-Zamili said.

Sadiq al-Laban, another MP, confirmed that “the vote was for a call on the government” to enact reciprocal measures.

“We are against this stance from the new administration,” Laban said, adding: “We hope that the American administration will rethink … this decision.”

Also on Monday, Iraq’s foreign ministry urged the US to review the ban.

“We see it as necessary for the new American administration to review this wrong decision,” the ministry said in a statement.

It was not clear if the reciprocal move demanded by the parliament was intended to apply to US military advisers. Holders of visas for government and diplomatic business are exempt from the US ban.

The Pentagon says its advisers are embedded with Iraqi field commanders in the campaign to recapture Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

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Trump’s decision led to the detention of incoming refugees at US airports, sparking protests, legal challenges and widespread condemnation from international leaders, rights groups and activists.

It has also led to a growing backlash inside Iraq that could undermine relations between Baghdad and the US amid the battle for Mosul.

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The parliamentary vote came a day after its foreign affairs committee made a similar call for Iraq to respond in kind to the US measure.

US Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham said Trump’s ban would affect military cooperation and security in other ways.

“This executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies,” the two US politicians said in a joint statement.

“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” they said.

Trump’s travel restrictions drew condemnation from influential Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr.

“Get your nationals out before removing expatriates,” said Sadr.

Source: News Agencies