The US Department of State expanded its security advisory for its employees and US citizens on Friday, December 8, to include a temporary movement restriction for the entirety of Baghdad, including the international zone, as security concerns mount following the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Anti-American protests throughout Iraq are likely in the coming days and weeks.
On December 5, US President Trump announced that the US officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a departure from the previous US and international position of neutrality on the status of the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians; no country currently has an embassy in Jerusalem. Many world leaders have strongly advised the US administration against the move, claiming it would render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state and would inflame tensions across the Muslim world. Protests against the move have broken out across the globe.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to monitor developments to the situation and to avoid all public demonstrations due to the risk of violence. A surge in anti-American and anti-Western sentiment is likely in some areas; all travelers, and Westerners in particular, are advised to maintain a low profile (do not discuss sensitive topics, do not stop to take photographs of demonstrations, etc.) and avoid unnecessary movements in the event of unrest.
More generally, the security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off-limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel. Due to the prevailing terrorist threat, individuals should remain vigilant and report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities. Always be on guard when visiting sites deemed particularly likely to be targeted in an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.).
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