Washington DC (GPA) Donald Trump is expected to reveal his new executive order on immigration today. The birthplace of ISIS– Iraq– is expected to be removed from the list. This makes true intentions behind the travel ban ever more clear: it was never about religion or terrorism, it’s only about power.
All Countries on the List Have Muslim-Majority, But Not All Muslim-Majority Countries Made the List
Barely a week into his presidency, Trump quickly got to work with campaign promises. This of course included the infamous travel ban executive order. Which since has been put on hold thanks to the federal court system. But today the Trump administration will reveal a new executive order on immigration and it comes with some significant changes.
One of the most glaring changes proves what many assumed all along: the travel ban was never about keeping America safe from the ever-ambiguous terrorism. It’s for punishing countries the United States is at war with. The original travel ban included seven “Muslim majority” countries: Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan, and of course Iran. Which lead many critics to label it as a “Muslim ban” and yes, this is half true.
All the countries listed in the travel ban are Muslim-majority countries, but not all Muslim-majority countries (or even most) were banned. What about Morocco or Tunisia? Tunisia is no stranger to terrorist attacks. What about Afghanistan or Pakistan? Jordan? Lebanon? How about NATO-ally Turkey? And how could anyone forget the epicenter of terrorism: Saudi Arabia? Or any Gulf Kingdom for that matter. No, this ban was always about more than religion and terrorism. This is about alliances, punishment, and power.
The Travel Ban as a Major Geopolitical Threat
What was probably most blatant about the previous ban is that it only included countries the United States is at war with. And in all of these countries, the United States is either training or arming local armies or militias in order to carryout their own self-interests.
Iraqi Prime Minister Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressed almost personal offense over including Iraq in the original travel ban. Explaining how the Iraqi government and army have been extremely cooperative fighting ISIS along side the United States. As ISIS is pushed out of Mosul and ultimately Iraq, the government in Baghdad will be able to start rebuilding infrastructure and redevelopment.
The United States needs to know they are making a sound investment helping the Iraqi government eradicate ISIS. Will a redeveloped Iraq stay loyal to the United States and their Middle East allies? Or will they choose to strengthen ties with Iran?
As Trump tweeted last month: “Iran is rapidly taking over more and more of Iraq even after the US has squandered three trillion dollars there. Obvious long ago!”
Sure, we can pick apart his word choice and argue about whether or not this factual. But the point is Trump believes Iran’s influence in Iraq is growing and even seems to be at a tipping point. Either way, we cannot deny that this attitude is influencing the policy his administration is carrying out. The travel ban is not simply a domestic safety issue and it’s not only foolish but dangerous to look at it that way.
The travel ban executive order is a geopolitical move that sends a strong message: cooperate with the United States or you will suffer. Why else would Iran have been hit with the ban? ISIS has no presence in Iran. In fact Iran is an extremely secure country terrorism-wise. No, this has to do with Iranian-allied (not necessarily funded) anti-Israel resistance in each country the United States is at war with. Watch out Lebanon, don’t assume you aren’t “on notice” right there next to Iran.
It is foolish to keep assuming the Trump administration is full of bumbling bigoted buffoons. This travel ban is a very thought-out and calculated move. Trump has figured out a way to gang-up on Iran and other enemies geopolitically while capitalizing on xenophobia in the United States.
The updated travel ban includes some other changes too. It won’t ban Syrian refugees indefinitely (your move Assad) and it will also honor current visas and green cards. Everyone else wishing to enter the United States from the 6 listed countries will be subject to a travel ban lasting 90 days. Refugees are banned for 120 days.
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Also published on Medium.