Pause In U.S. Entry Policies Sensible

Posted on Wed 02/01/2017 by


Brookes_Peter_TDS_loBy Dr. Peter Brookes ~

Trump’s order targets countries with terror risks

People will spin it anyway they like – and they will – but President Trump’s decision to take a pause and review travel to the United States from seven Middle Eastern and North African countries is sound national security policy.

It’s also completely defensible in these troubled times.

trumpexecutiveorderrefugeesThe presidential executive order will temporarily alter visa issuance, immigration and refugee flows to America from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen while U.S. entry programs are examined.

All of these countries have one thing in common: terrorism.

They may have a terrorist group operating within their borders or may have been slapped with the U.S. State Department’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation as a country that uses terrorism or supports terrorist groups.

Of particular importance now is the Islamic State (aka ISIS) which, in my estimation, is in big trouble. The “caliphate” is under significant pressure in Syria and Iraq as forces close in on its key strongholds in Raqqa and Mosul.

For instance, Iraqi forces, with U.S. support, have made significant advances against ISIS since the battle for Mosul began last fall. The going is still tough, but Iraqi forces have reportedly taken back a good chunk of Iraq’s second largest city from ISIS fighters.

While Raqqa is still functioning as the Islamic State’s capital, tougher days are ahead for ISIS there. Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces, with U.S. help, are targeting the terrorist headquarters for a final assault.

But taking Raqqa won’t terminate ISIS.

Some of its fighters, unfortunately, will survive the engagement and disperse-if they don’t scoot before the battle for Raqqa even begins. The point will be to continue to resist in a less-organized Islamist insurgency in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere.

Their focus may also shift from holding large swaths of territory to finding ungoverned spaces to plan, train and operate for the purposes of not only carrying on the ISIS movement locally, but exporting terror overseas, including into Europe and the United States.

Battle-hardened foreign fighters or shadowy ISIS operatives could come our way.

Europe has already been stung by terrorists coming in with migrant flows. While the United States hasn’t been hit by an ISIS operative that came here from abroad, it’s something we need to guard against, especially as the Islamic State splinters.

We can’t dismiss the other countries named either.

Libya has both ISIS and al-Qaeda operating there. Iran and Sudan are State Sponsors of Terrorism. Somalia is the home of al-Shabaab – which has called for attacks in the United States. Yemen is the base of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

While almost all of the more than 90 plots and attacks here after 9/11 have been homegrown, Europe’s experience and the continuing turmoil and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa make getting movement into our country right.

Beyond that, it’s also possible that the situation in the Middle East and North Africa could get appreciably worse, meaning that we need to ensure that our policies, procedures and practices are up to speed for both the current and possible future threats.

This only makes sense considering the challenges we face. Contributing Editor Dr. Peter Brookes is a Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at  The Heritage Foundation .  and he is a member of the U.S. – China Economic and Security Review Commission.

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