Rabat - After toothpaste and nail clippers, it is now apparently “Muslim” electronic devices that terrorize the Department of Homeland Security.
Rabat – After toothpaste and nail clippers, it is now apparently “Muslim” electronic devices that terrorize the Department of Homeland Security.
This Tuesday, the US government began notifying nine airlines from the Middle East and Africa of a newly issued travel ban, stating that laptops, tablets and other large electronics devices will be banned indefinitely in the cabins of around 50 direct daily flights to the US.
The chronicles of the infamous US travel bans are not ending anytime soon. After banning travellers from six Muslim countries for alleged “security” reasons, the US government is now taking extra measures against electronic devices coming from 13 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries – Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.
What is so dangerous about laptops and tablets? According to John Kelly, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, “greater security was needed based on intelligence about airlines that fly non-stop from 10 airports to the US.”
What kind of intelligence? Well, according to a senior administration official who spoke to reporters on the background of this ban, “Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorists continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items.”
One question officials failed to answer however, is how it is any safer to have electronic devices in the cargo of the plane than in the cabin?
As for the nine affected airlines, they were quick to execute the US new travel ban decree, issuing communiques stating that all passengers flying to the US must place all electronics devices “larger than smartphones” in checked baggage. And as you might have guessed it, passengers were not happy.
Moroccan social media users had many questions to ask regarding this peculiar travel ban, and they didn’t shy away from expressing their displeasure at hearing the news.
Emirates airlines, one the of the world’s leading airlines and a major competitor to US Airlines, decided to react to this new travel ban with a touch of humor.
Let us entertain you. pic.twitter.com/FKqayqUdQ7
— Emirates airline (@emirates) March 21, 2017
Security of Business?
According to some aviation experts, this unusual travel ban has an ulterior motive. According to an article published by the Washington Post last November, US airlines believe they are in an unfair competition with heavily-subsidized Persian Gulf carriers.
“US airlines say they will ask the president-elect to intercede on their behalf,” reports the newspaper, who further explains how “three big U.S. international carriers — Delta, American and United — have unsuccessfully lobbied the Obama administration to take up their cause against a trio of Gulf airlines who have grown exponentially, making inroads in the global market. The U.S. airlines want Trump to hear their case for renegotiation of Open Skies Agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.”
The news site Bloomberg published a similar opinion yesterday, stating that “One motivation for the ban, might be to prompt business travelers to take alternative routes via European hubs to curb the growth of the big three Gulf carriers: Emirates, Etihad Airways PJSC and Qatar Airways Ltd. U.S. airlines have long complained that those three are unfairly subsidized by their governments and have lobbied to restrict their expansion.”
This motivation might not be so far fetched, as last February, President Donald Trump told US airlines he would help them compete with foreign carriers that are aided by their governments, a crucial signal of White House support for an industry campaign that began in 2015.
“A lot of that competition is subsidized by governments, big league,” Trump told representatives of the nation’s largest airlines, air freight companies, and airports at the White House in February. “I’ve heard that complaint from different people in this room. Probably about one hour after I got elected, I was inundated with calls from your industry and many other industries, because it’s a very unfair situation.”
True or not, there is still no explanation for why electronic devices in the cabin are a concern, and electronic devices in the baggage hold are not.