Iraq, Iran threaten to retaliate

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the country will not retaliate against US President Donald Trump's travel ban. Cooperation with Washington in the war on Islamic State is proving more important.VIDEO: REUTERS
Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari speaks during a press conference at the ministry headquarters in Baghdad on Dec 18, 2016.
Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari speaks during a press conference at the ministry headquarters in Baghdad on Dec 18, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BAGHDAD • Baghdad called on the United States on Monday to review its "wrong decision" to prevent Iraqis from entering the country as its Parliament backed reciprocal restrictions if Washington does not change course.

The responses from Baghdad are part of a growing backlash against President Donald Trump's executive order barring citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the US for at least 90 days, a decision he billed as an effort to make America safe from "radical Islamic terrorists".

The travel restrictions, which come on the heels of repeated assertions by Mr Trump that the US should have stolen Iraq's oil before leaving in 2011, risk alienating the citizens and government of a country fighting against militants the President has cast as a major threat to the US.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said: "We reject... the decision to prevent the reception of Iraqis in the United States of America, and call for its review."

The Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, saying: "It is very unfortunate that this decision was issued towards an allied state linked by strategic partnership with the United States."

Its Parliament, meanwhile, urged the government to take similar measures against Americans if Washington does not reconsider its position.

Iran last Saturday also condemned the visa ban against the seven Muslim-majority countries as an "affront to the Muslim world and the Iranian nation", and vowed to retaliate.

Israel said on Monday it was seeking clarification on whether the ban applies to tens of thousands of elderly Israeli Jews born in Middle-Eastern countries.

Israel is home to around 140,000 people born in the seven countries covered by the decree, including around 45,000 Iranians and 53,000 Iraqis, according to official statistics. The majority are over the age of 65, and many fled persecution.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2017, with the headline 'Iraq, Iran threaten to retaliate'. Print Edition | Subscribe