Ban could hurt U.S.-Iraqi ties, diplomats say

The Wall Street Journal reports: President Donald Trump’s inclusion of Iraq in the temporary ban on foreign nationals entering the U.S. has alarmed American diplomats who warn it risks upending delicate military, political and business ties at a time when Islamic State is on the cusp of defeat in the country.

The backlash over the executive order intensified on Sunday with Iraqi lawmakers calling on their own government to retaliate by banning U.S. citizens from entering Iraq. Influential Iran-backed Shiite militias, which are helping fight the Sunni extremists of Islamic State, went one step further by urging that Americans in the country now be expelled.

A memo sent by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the State Department and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal showed that diplomats appeared blindsided by the order issued on Friday and its breadth. They said it would be felt disproportionately in Iraq and urgently warned that it could have do lasting harm to bilateral relations in the one nation on the list that the U.S. considers a close ally.

The memo, dated Saturday, detailed a list of potential repercussions that could arise from Mr. Trump’s order. For example, it said, a top Iraqi general leading the fight against Islamic State would be unable to visit family in the U.S.

American-led airstrikes have been supporting an array of allied Iraqi forces in a critical battle to drive Islamic State out of the major city of Mosul. U.S. troops are closely advising Iraqi forces on the ground.

Also, General Electric Co. won’t be able to host Iraqi delegates in the U.S. as part of a recently expanded $2 billion energy deal, the memo said. General Electric didn’t immediately comment.

The memo also flagged the fate of some 62,000 Iraqi applicants for a special relocation program for aiding the U.S.; the perception that the U.S. is abandoning vulnerable minorities; and the safety and mobility of thousands of American diplomatic staff and private contractors in the country. [Continue reading…]

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