US President Donald Trump's first executive order had sparked a legal, political and logistical furore. There was chaos at major airports and mass protests while several district courts moved to block its implementation and lawmakers expressed opposition.
The troubled roll-out also dominated the first weeks of the new administration, leaving many with the impression that it was badly planned and badly implemented. Polls show American public opinion is deeply divided over the issue. Most indicate a slight majority of voters opposed, with strong support among Trump's political base. The Republican president criticised a court order suspending the ban as "a very bad decision, very bad for the safety and security of our country. The roll-out was perfect."
Iraq's inclusion in the first order prompted outrage in that country, including from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Trump signed a revised ban on refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority nations on Tuesday, scaling back the order to exempt Iraqis and permanent US residents.
The US and Iraqi militaries are currently fighting side-by-side in northern Iraq, trying to wrest the city of Mosul from Islamic State control. After the revised order, the Iraqi foreign ministry expressed its "deep satisfaction", and described it as an "important step" in strengthening relations between Baghdad and Washington.
According to CNN, Iraqi government lobbied "at the highest levels." US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Iraqi government members spoke about vetting measures that could prevent terrorists from leaving Iraq. "Iraq is an important ally in the fight to defeat Islamic State (IS), with their brave soldiers fighting in close coordination with America's men and women in uniform... This intense review over the past month identified multiple security measures that the State Department and the government of Iraq will be implementing to achieve our shared objective of preventing those with criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States," Tillerson is quoted as saying.
According to a White House press release, Iraq has been left out of the travel ban as it "presents a special case," and that "the close cooperative relationship between the United States and the democratically elected Iraqi government, the strong United States diplomatic presence in Iraq, the significant presence of United States forces in Iraq, and Iraq's commitment to combat IS justify different treatment for Iraq." Additionally, the press release states that "an application by any Iraqi national for a visa, admission, or other immigration benefit should be subjected to thorough review, including, as appropriate, consultation with a designee of the Secretary of Defence and use of the additional information that has been obtained in the context of the close US-Iraqi security partnership, since Executive Order 13769 was issued, concerning individuals suspected of ties to IS or other terrorist organisations and individuals coming from territories controlled or formerly controlled by IS."
With inputs from AFP
Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 12:35 PM