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Iraq’s Exclusion From US Ban Aimed at Dividing Region
National

Iraq’s Exclusion From US Ban Aimed at Dividing Region

Lawmakers believe the US administration's decision to drop Iraq from the list of Muslim-majority countries barred from the US under revisions to a legally challenged and blocked travel ban is aimed at creating division in the region and serve US oil interests.

"Trump's second order is not much different from the previous one, except that it has exempted Iraq. The exemption has evil purposes," MP Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told ICANA on Saturday.

"The US has removed Iraq from the list of banned countries to create a rift between regional countries."

Trump's initial executive order on Jan. 27 banned travelers from seven mainly Muslim nations—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—for 90 days and halted refugee admission for four months, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely.

But the order was hit with more than two dozen lawsuits, many of them claimed it discriminated against Muslims.

Its hasty implementation caused chaos and protests at airports.

In a legal challenge to the original order, the state of Washington was successful in preventing its implementation.

A federal judge in Seattle and then an appeals court in San Francisco ruled that Washington could claim standing, in part because the order adversely affected legal permanent residents, known as green card holders, in the state.

The new more narrowly tailored temporary travel ban, which was signed on Monday and goes into effect on March 16, removes Iraq and adds categories of people who would be exempt from the order.

It re-categorized Syrians as among other refugees that face a general ban for 120 days.

Jalil Rahimi, another member of parliament, cited US oil interests as the main motive for Iraq's removal.

"The decision to delist Iraq was made in line with the US oil-related goals in Iraq."

Lawmaker Qasem Jasemi said the United States aims to use the Iraqi situation to expand its sphere of influence in the Middle East.  

"Today the Americans intend to increase their regional clout through [their presence in] Iraq. So their decision was not out of compassion," he said.

After Trump signed the original order, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi refuted the ban and said he would consider reciprocal measures.  

Many Iraqi lawmakers urged the government to ban Americans from Iraq in response, despite the potential effects that might have on the fight against the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group.

Abadi then met US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Baghdad this month and underscored the US-Iraqi partnership.  

Mattis walked back comments made by Trump, suggesting that Americans could get another chance to seize Iraqi oil as compensation for its military efforts there.

"We're not in Iraq to seize anybody's oil," Mattis told reporters on that trip.  

Abadi also met Vice President Mike Pence in Munich last month, where the two publicly discussed ways of strengthening cooperation.

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