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Iraqi parliament votes to urge govt. to enact reciprocal travel ban on Americans

This file photo shows a view of the Iraqi Parliament in session. (Photo by AFP)

Iraqi legislators have voted to call on the government to enact a reciprocity measure to block American citizens from entering the country if the US does not withdraw President Donald Trump’s visa ban against Iraqi travelers.

Lawmakers Kamil al-Ghrairi and Mohammed Saadoun told The Associated Press  the decision was taken by a majority votes in favor during a Monday parliamentary session but did not offer specific numbers. They said the decision was binding for the government

Meanwhile, the Iraqi deputy parliament speaker, Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, said the parliament's decision was non-binding for the Iraqi government, adding that the measure approved in the Iraqi parliament was "a recommendation" and did not move as a "law."

It was not immediately clear who the restrictions will apply to since there are already American military personnel, non-government and aid workers, workers from energy companies and American businessmen present in Iraq.

On January 27, Trump signed a sweeping executive order to make good on his promise to ban Muslim immigrants.

The new Republican president’s order imposes a 90-day ban on the entry of citizens from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, blocks refugees from Syria indefinitely, and suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days.

This file photo shows a view of the Iraqi Foreign Ministry building in the capital, Baghdad.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry has described Trump’s travel ban as a "wrong" decision, calling on the US administration to mitigate the impact of restrictions on Iraqi travelers.

“It is necessary that the new American administration reconsider this wrong decision. We affirm Iraq's desire to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries,” read the ministry’s statement which was released on Sunday.

Also on Sunday, prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for the expulsion of American nationals from the Arab country in a tit-for-tat move following the US ban.

“It would be arrogance for you to enter freely Iraq and other countries while barring them the entrance to your country ... and therefore you should get your nationals out,” the cleric said in a statement published on his website. 

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order on January 27, 2017, which temporarily bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Additionally, the pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi, urged Iraqi authorities to ban Americans in response to Trump's order.

“After the decision of the American president to prohibit the entry of Iraqi citizens to the United States of America, we demand Americans be prevented from entering Iraq, and the removal of those of them who are present,” Hashd al-Sha’abi said in a statement.

The US visa ban has sparked huge international criticism from the UN chief and several countries, including European ones as well as Muslim nations. The measure has also led to demonstrations inside the US.

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