Iraqi lawmakers voted Monday to enact a “reciprocity measure” that would bar Americans from traveling to the Middle Eastern country following President Donald Trump’s executive order halting entry into the U.S. from Iraq and six other predominantly Muslim nations, according to reports.
Though the measure is non-binding for the government, it is likely to strain relations between Baghdad and Washington, D.C., as the two countries work together to defeat the Islamic State terrorist group and retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, from radicals.
Should the government of Baghdad choose to implement Parliament’s call, it is unclear who exactly would be banned from travel, given U.S. military personnel, non-governmental aid workers and American businesspeople frequently travel to Iraq.
Deputy Parliament Speaker Sheik Humam Hamoudi said the lawmakers’ vote was a “recommendation” and urged the U.S. Congress to “pressure the American administration to reconsider” Trump’s executive order, according to The Associated Press.
The executive order, which Trump signed Friday, institutes a 120-day freeze on the U.S.’s refugee resettlement program and a 90-day ban on entry into the country from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Libya — as well as an indefinite suspension on refugees from Syria.
Iraq’s foreign ministry denounced the president’s order, saying in a statement Monday that it “regrets such a decision against … an ally and a strategic partner of the United States.”
“It is a surprise that Iraq is covered under this order because it is not among the countries that export terrorists,” the statement read. “The Iraqi community inside the U.S. enjoys a good reputation and its members have not been involved in any terrorist acts.”
That “good reputation,” however, isn’t all that good.
In 2011, two Iraqis living in Kentucky faced federal terrorism charges after it was discovered they had constructed improvised roadside bombs in Iraq. The arrests sparked outrage in Congress and led former President Barack Obama’s administration to re-examine the records of 58,000 Iraqis who had settled in the United States, according to the Washington Post.
The White House has not yet responded to the parliamentary vote, but the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said it was aware of the move.
“We have seen the reports of the Parliament vote and are reviewing its details,” the embassy told the AP. “We refer you to the Government of Iraq for further clarification.”