Trump’s executive order, a wake-up call for everyone

It is wrong for Arab countries to assume not being targeted by US now would mean not being targeted in the future.


2017/03/12 Issue: 97 Page: 6


The Arab Weekly
Burhan al-Chalabi



From the perspective of Muslims worldwide, it is heartening to witness the over­whelming anger and frustration from the international community and Americans against US President Donald Trump’s travel ban to the United States, which he initially sought to have imposed on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The Trump administration has since moved to exclude Iraq from the original list but Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Iran have remained.

Trump’s “Muslim ban” is short-sighted, ill-thought-out and poten­tially detrimental to US interests and national security. A federal ap­peals court upheld a lower court’s suspension of the original ban, which reinforced the perception that the United States hates Arabs and Muslims. The Trump adminis­tration did not appeal that ruling; instead the US president issued the new executive order, which targets the six predominantly Muslim countries, most of which are Arab.

Citizens of all faiths from these countries do not travel to the United States using religious iden­tification; they do so using their national passports.

The singling out of countries where the predominant religion is Islam only serves the interests and the propaganda of the ultra-right in the United States. It is obsessed with demonising the Islamic faith by constantly associating the reli­gion with terrorism.

The Cato Institute, a libertarian think-tank in Washington, in a re­port on terrorism and immigration in the United States, said the num­ber of deadly terrorism attacks committed in the United States by people from the countries tar­geted by the executive order was zero. The report shows there are no security concerns from these countries. Therefore, the motive of the ban is purely one of race and faith.

Although no longer on the list, Iraq stood out as an odd case, although banning the others is unjustifiable.

Iraq has paid the highest price for US policies. More than 1 million lives, as well as billions of dollars, were lost in the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, when Baghdad sought to defend its territorial integrity in the face of the threat of Ayatol­lah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution. The sacrifices made by Iraqis also helped protect the whole Gulf region, as well as the interests of the United States and the West, which were also targeted by the 1979 Iranian revolution.

The US reward for the Iraqi lives was to invade and destroy Iraq and hand it to Iran on a gold platter.

Iraq has a comprehensive defence treaty with the United States, which enjoys the benefits of comprehensive commercial and military deals with Iraq. There are thousands of US military person­nel and business people who live and work in Iraq, while Iraqi citi­zens were banned in Trump’s first order from travelling to the United States.

Therefore, the initial placing of a travel ban on Iraqis visiting the United States was at odds with the spirit and terms and conditions of these treaties.

Arab countries not targeted by the ban, in particular, the oil-producing countries and those that helped the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, have a moral duty to offer solidarity to those being targeted.

History would testify that it is wrong for Arab countries to assume not being targeted by Trump’s executive order now would mean not being targeted in the future.


Burhan al-Chalabi, former chairman of the British-Iraqi Foundation, is publisher of the London Magazine.


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