Countries ban Iraqis from flying to Belarus in echo of 2017 “Muslim ban”

Bans are increasing across the Middle East to prevent Iraqis, Syrians and others from going to Belarus after a migrant border crisis developed between Belarus and Poland.

The Guardian reported last week that Turkey was preventing citizens of Syria, Yemen and Iraq from obtaining airline tickets to Belarus. The radical movement evokes memories of the “Muslim ban” of the Trump era.

In January 2017, the US banned people from seven Muslim-majority countries, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya from entering the US for 90 days.

For whatever reason, in 2017, the decision to block all people from these countries, regardless of their individual cases, was controversial, while calls to ban people from similar countries from going to Belarus have been greeted with support in Europe.

This illustrates how migrants and refugees seem to be supported and welcomed as long as they come from certain places or by certain methods and not by others. It also shows the hypocrisy that some countries, like Turkey, may abuse Syrians, but others are criticized for doing the same.

Migrants gather near a barbed wire fence in an attempt to cross the border into Poland in the Grodno region, Belarus, on November 8, 2021 (credit: LEONID SCHEGLOV / BELTA / HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

For example, Turkey used Syrians and other refugees as a threat against Greece for years, claiming that Turkey would open the border if it was not paid for not doing so. When Belarus welcomed Iraqis and Syrians and encouraged them to go to Poland, it was accused of using a “hybrid” war. It is not clear why a Syrian entering Greece from Turkey is a refugee, but a Syrian going through Belarus is a “hybrid war”.

Many of the people who went to Belarus are Kurdish and some Yazidis. As such, they are persecuted minorities in their countries of origin. Now Turkey has banned these Kurds from Iraq and Syria from traveling. According to The Guardian “Belavia, the state airline of Belarus, said it would no longer carry citizens of those countries to Belarus.”

In another development, the European Union was considering sanctioning a Syrian airline called Cham Wings and also a hotel in Minsk where the refugees had gone. Financial times He wrote that it was about “pressuring the authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko to stop the flow of migrants to the borders of Europe.” Reports say that Syrians are arriving on the Cham Wings flights. Now it appears that Cham Wings has suspended flights. Iraqi Airways also suspended flights to Minsk, according to reports. Suddenly, Syrians and Iraqis can no longer fly to Belarus. This is regardless of who they are or their job. The migrants who ended up in Belarus are now trapped at the border. Some have paid thousands of dollars to get to Belarus, thinking it might be an easy way to get to Europe.

It is a reminder that in 2015, Germany invited Syrians to come to Europe and more than a million people made their way, sometimes by boat, through Greece, Serbia and other states in 2015. People are also coming from the north of Africa. Last week, the UK said it had received the most migrants in a single day through the English Channel, with 1,000 people crossing illegally in one day.

It appears that the EU will pressure more countries to prevent Iraqis and Syrians from going to Belarus. It is not clear why some of the same critics who criticized the US for a “Muslim ban” in 2017 are, in fact, banning people from the same countries, and even banning them from flying from Iraq to Syria or from The middle east. East to Belarus.

It is also unclear why when Turkey encouraged immigrants to cross into Greece, the immigrants were seen as victims, but in this case the EU is working to keep immigrants as far away as possible. It raises questions about widespread discrimination by airlines and countries against specific people because of their national origin. It is also unclear why asylum seekers, such as Kurds and Yazidis, cannot be taken in for asylum, while in other cases people have been taken in at other borders.

Russia has been accused of exploiting the crisis, and accused Russia’s Tass media have published headlines blaming the West for the crisis. Meanwhile, Russia’s president has opposed Belarus cutting off energy and gas supplies to Europe in retaliation for sanctions. This shows that the migration crisis is simply a symbol of a broader struggle and complex ties between Moscow, Europe, Belarus and Turkey.

For the thousands of migrants now risking a cold winter trapped at the border with nowhere to fly or no way to cross the border, the tragedy is compounded by countries attempting to close doors in retaliation against each other.

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