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Iraq Water Protector Denied Visa Waiver to Attend U.S. Conference

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Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. with Enki, Iraq's Sumerian God of Water.

By Anna Bachmann

The 16' tall puppet Enki, Iraq's Sumerian God of Water, was forced to stand in for Iraq's Upper Tigris Waterkeeper, Nabil Musa at the Waterkeeper Alliance conference in Utah last week.

Musa, who was born and currently lives in Northern Iraq also carries a British passport and has attended several Waterkeeper conferences in the past under a U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program permits citizens of 38 countries (including the UK) to travel to the U.S. without a visa. Nabil was denied the visa waiver to attend the 2017 conference after the Department of Homeland Security changed the rules with the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.

This act states that nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, at any time on or after March 1, 2011 will be denied the visa waiver. As a result Nabil, who works to protect rivers in Iraq, missed an important opportunity to connect with this vital network of water advocates from around the world.

Anna Bachmann is the founder of Waterkeepers Iraq.

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