Trump Bars Refugees from Muslim-Majority Countries as America Bombs and Destabilizes Them

Civil rights organizations have loudly condemned the president's newest executive orders.

Photo Credit: Almigdad Mojalli/VOA

President Donald Trump is issuing executive orders that will bar refugees from the U.S. and suspend visas for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. Most of the countries targeted by the order are presently being bombed by the U.S., while, in the others, the U.S. has fueled political instability.

Congressional aides and immigration experts briefed on the issue told Reuters that Trump will be blocking visas issued to citizens of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iran, and Sudan. The U.S. is currently carrying out bombing campaigns in the first five of these countries.

Last year, the U.S. dropped more than 26,000 bombs on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Iraq

Iraq was destabilized through the U.S.'s 2003 invasion and subsequent decade of military occupation, which the United Nations has dubbed illegal and which led to more than one million deaths. The U.S.-led, U.K.-backed coalition systematically deconstructed the Iraqi government in the name of "de-Ba'athification," and dissolved its military.

The occupation of Iraq incited violent sectarianism in the country and provided the kindling for a wildfire of violent extremism. Al-Qaeda metastasized amid the bedlam, eventually leading to the rise of the self-declared Islamic State, a genocidal group that has been supported by close Western allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Millions have been displaced by ISIS-led terror campaigns. 

In 2016, the U.S. dropped more than 12,000 bombs on Iraq.

Syria

Syria has also seen U.S. military intervention for years. More than half of the population has been displaced and hundreds of thousands have been killed in a brutal war that has raged since 2011 amidst continuous foreign military intervention.

The U.S. and its allies Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have armed and supported Syrian rebels, including Islamist extremists, since early 2012 at the latest. At its peak, the CIA was spending nearly $1 billion per year to arm and train fighters in the country.

Al-Qaeda-linked militants who have received foreign military support to fight the Syrian government have terrorized, and in some cases, cleansed Syrians from ethnic and religious minority groups, killing, torturing and imposing fundamentalist religious law on others.

Heavy bombing by the Syrian military, backed by Russia, has also killed many civilians and further fueled the refugee crisis.

The U.S. dropped more than 12,000 bombs on Syria in 2016.

Libya

Libya was plunged into chaos after a 2011 NATO regime change operation that destroyed the government, led to the deaths of thousands of people and turned more than one-third of the population into refugees.

The oil-rich North African nation, which had one of the highest standards of living on the continent before the 2011 U.S.-backed bombing campaign, now has multiple competing governments, and large swaths of the country are controlled by extremist groups, including the Islamic State.

The U.S. dropped nearly 500 bombs on the country in 2016, several on the last day of the Obama administration. At least 80 people were killed in that final attack.

Yemen

Yemen has been plunged into one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in the world, thanks to U.S. military intervention. Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition strongly backed by the U.S. and U.K. has carried out thousands of airstrikes across the country, at least one-third of which have hit civilian areas. More than 10,000 civilians have been killed in the 22-month war, and another 40,000 Yemenis have been wounded, according to the U.N. Well over 2 million people have been displaced.

The U.S. has provided tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons and military equipment to Saudi Arabia, refueled Saudi warplanes in more than 1,000 sorties, provided the Saudi-led coalition with intelligence and a list of targets, and even directly advised Saudi forces in their command room.

Before the ongoing war began, Yemen had been targeted for 15 years by a covert U.S. drone program that has killed and terrorized civilians. Some experts argue the drone program has done more to fuel extremism than combat it.

Somalia

Somalia has been the site of a covert U.S. drone war for more than a decade. Hundreds of people have been killed in dozens of strikes, according to conservative estimates compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. In March 2016, at least 150 people were killed in a U.S.-led attack. The Obama administration claimed the victims were members of the extremist group al-Shabaab, but did not provide any supplementary evidence.

Iran

Iran has been a target of U.S. military aggression since its 1979 revolution. The U.S. backed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in his war against the country, which left more than one million dead on both sides, and has continued to support anti-government opposition groups ever since.

Unlike the other countries on the list, Iran is a net host for refugees, not a generator of them. The Middle Eastern country currently is home to some one million documented refugees, in addition to roughly two million undocumented refugees. Millions of Afghans who have been displaced by the 15-year U.S. war in their country have sought refuge in Iran.

A staggering 86 percent of refugees are hosted by developing countries that are often struggling to meet their people's needs, according to a study by Oxfam. At the same time, the five wealthiest countries, which make up half the global economy, are hosting less than five percent of refugees, many of whom were displaced in violent conflicts fueled by powerful industrialized nations.

Sudan

Sudan has been shaken by political instability for years. The repressive government has been accused of egregious human rights violations, and nearly 3 million people were displaced in a decades-long civil war.

In 2011, the U.S. strongly supported the partition of Sudan. Ethnic cleansing followed, and civil war erupted in the newly created South Sudan in late 2013, which continues to this day. South Sudanese forces have been accused of ghastly atrocities, and the U.N. has warned that the country, which is an ally of the U.S. and China alike, may be on the brink of genocide. More than 2 million people have been displaced and tens of thousands have been killed.

Condemnation

Civil rights groups condemned the Trump administration's harsh crackdown on refugees and migrants, emphasizing that they are frequently fleeing U.S.-fueled violence and instability.

"These new policies will build on existing infrastructure, primarily impacting people who have fled from countries that the United States has bombed or invaded, as well as those whose local economies have been destroyed by our military operations and trade policies," Jewish Voice for Peace's Network Against Islamophobia said in a statement harshly condemning the news of Trump's planned executive orders.

"Decades of racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic policies and discourses around national security, the War on Terror, and immigration have laid the groundwork for this nightmare set of policies designed to target, profile, surveil and ban people due to their religion, race, national origin or legal status," the statement added. "We cannot let this stand."

Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet's Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

 

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