September 10, 1999
In light of Iraq's continuing challenges to the U.S./Coalition enforcement of the no-fly zones, and the potential for retaliatory action by the Government of Iraq against U.S. citizens, the U.S. government urges all U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Iraq, and those already in Iraq are advised to depart as soon as possible. Iraq is engaged in a persistent pattern of challenges to the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. These challenges include firing on the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones, illuminating them with surface-to-air missile radar, and placing bounties on coalition aircrews. Coalition aircraft respond in self-defense to Iraqi threats by striking Iraq's air-defense system. Therefore, conditions throughout the country remain unsettled and dangerous. Foreigners present in Iraq have in the past been used as "human shields" by the regime during periods of confrontation with the international community.
With the exception of the passports of American professional reporters or journalists on assignment in Iraq, and Americans residing in Iraq on or before February 8, 1991, U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they are validated by the Department of State.
The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and there is no U.S. Embassy in Iraq. While our interests in Iraq are represented by the Embassy of Poland in Baghdad, that embassy's ability to obtain consular access to detained U.S. citizens and to perform other emergency services is severely constrained by Iraq's unwillingness to cooperate. In addition, the United States as well as the United Nations imposed sanctions which severely restrict financial and economic activities with Iraq, including travel-related transactions.
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