Anger across Iraqi is palpable today on a draft executive order to be signed by President Trump banning all Iraqis from visiting the United States. The ban includes seven Muslim countries, but nowhere is it hitting harder than Iraq, particularly Iraqi Kurdistan, which has been trying to forge business ties to the US.
Anger over the US ban is fueling calls for retaliation by the Iraqi government, with MPs saying that it is very likely the government will respond with a reciprocal ban on issuing visas to US citizens who want to visit Iraq, effectively blocking American businessmen from the country.
Some analysts are warning that such a retaliatory move could rile the Trump Administration into more hostile measures against Iraq, and that a mutual ban is likely to hurt Iraq a lot more than the United States in the long run.
In addition to Iraq, the visa ban will also bar citizens of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan from the United States. The Trump Administration is presenting the move as aimed at preventing terrorism, arguing that citizens of those nations tend to be hostile toward the US. That might not have been true for all Iraqis, particularly Kurds, but the ban is turning into sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy, with many Iraqi Kurds viewing the move as a betrayal of their years of support for the US in the region.