Iraqi parliamentary committee calls for ‘reciprocal’ travel ban measures for Americans

Foreign affairs committee as well as militia coalition fighting Isis call for travel restrictions in protest over new ‘unfair’ US immigration executive order

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The Independent Online

An Iraqi parliamentary panel has asked the Baghdad government to “reciprocate” US President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ with travel restrictions aimed at American citizens.

“We ask the Iraqi government to reciprocate to the decision taken by the U.S administration,“ the foreign affairs committee said in a statement on Sunday. 

“Iraq is in the frontline of the war of terrorism... and it is unfair that the Iraqis are treated in this way.”

The call was made after the panel met to discuss the fallout from the far-reaching new executive order on immigration signed into law by Mr Trump on Friday.

Among other things, the order temporarily suspends the US’ refugee resettlement programme, and bars even valid visa-holding citizens of seven Muslim countries, including Iraq, from entering the country. 

Several parts of the legislation have already been struck down by federal judges amid outrage worldwide and protests at all of the US’ major airports over the weekend. 

Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces, a government-allied Shia militia group coalition formed to fight Isis, was also critical of the US policy, calling for a ban on issuing visas to Americans visiting the country and for those already in Iraq to be expelled. 

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Government spokesperson Saad al-Hadithi was more cautious in conveying Baghdad’s criticism, saying that Iraq understood the US’ security needs but that the “special relationship” between the US and Iraq should be taken into consideration. 

Iraqis hoped the new legislation would “not affect the efforts of strengthening and developing the bilateral relations,” he said. Two parliament members speaking on background told Reuters that they planned to lobby the US to reverse the decision. 

Iraqi refugees and immigrants who settle in the US are already subject to extensive vetting and background checks. Many worked alongside the US army and government agencies during the US’ invasion of 2003 - 2011. 

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