Donald Trump's travel ban on Muslim countries is not the same as their bans on Israelis, says expert

'But we are not talking about these small warring states, we are talking about the leader of the free world, the defender of human rights'

Lucy Pasha-Robinson@lucypasha
Tuesday 31 January 2017 21:16
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US President Donald Trump reads an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017
US President Donald Trump reads an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership prior to signing it in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017

Citizens from Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya have been barred from the US for 90 days under controversial security measures implemented by Donald Trump.

However, six of the seven banned states also bar citizens by nationality, an argument often cited by Mr Trump's supporters in an attempt to normalise the unprecedented steps.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the banned countries of Syria, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Libya all block Israeli citizens from entering their own countries, and the measures are also enforced in Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

However, international politics professor Fawaz Gerges at London School of Economics said comparisons between America and Arab-Israeli relations “fly in the face of reality”.

“Trump’s ban is a Muslim ban, based on religious discrimination and racial discrimination. The relationship between Israel and its Arab neighbours is one of war since 1947 - for the last 70 years. By trying to force comparison, it just flies in the face of reality, it’s apples and oranges, sky and sea,” he told The Independent.

“The boycott of Israel by Arab nations is a completely different thing. The Arab world offered Israel a kind of a deal - a Palestinian state in return for normalised political relations. But we are not talking about these small warring states, we are talking about the leader of the free world, the defender of human rights. What Trump has done has undermined America as a moral voice in the world."

“We are talking about blocking poor countries, that are war torn, they don't have the means and the ability to retaliate - what kind of options do they have against the US? That’s why Trump has chosen these states - Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan aren’t on the list because they have options.”

The US citizen also discredited claims Barack Obama took a similar approach in 2011 when he temporarily increased vetting measures of Iraqi citizens travelling to the US.

“What we need to understand is there a qualitative difference between the measures put in place between the Obama administration and the blanket ban put in place by Trump,” he said.

“Obama’s measures were to protect the US against potential threats based on specific information gathered by national security forces in 2011 and 2015.”

Dr Gerges, who is a leading expert on Isis and Al Qaeda, said Mr Trump’s ban was ultimately counter intuitive as it would play into the hands of terrorist recruiters.

“It serves as massive propaganda for Al-Qaeda and ISIS, it shifts the debate between being a war within islam to being a war between the West and Islam,” he said.

He also accused Mr Trump of executing a “political, ideological decision” in order to play to his core base of alt-right supporters and tea party republicans.

“All the evidence we have is most of the attacks that take place on American soil are carried out by American citizens or residents,” he said.

“This is a political decision, an ideological decision, playing to his alt-right base and this is the beginning.”

Green card and visa holders were being blocked from boarding US-bound flights within hours of Mr Trump issuing the new order.

Refugee admissions to the country have also been suspended for 120 days as part of measures the Republican leader claimed would “keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the US”.

The executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States”, also bars Syrian refugees indefinitely until “significant changes” are made, and halved the annual cap on refugees to 50,000.

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