Electronic Travel Ban

Electronic Travel Ban

On the 21st of March 2017, The United States of America along with United Kingdom banned people carrying laptops and other electronic items on flights coming into the Middle East. The six countries affected by the UK’s ban on electronics are Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

ELECTRONIC TRAVEL BAN

What message does this send to the airlines involved?

On the 21st of March 2017, The United States of America along with United Kingdom banned people carrying laptops and other electronic items on flights coming into the Middle East. The six countries affected by the UK’s ban on electronics are Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The US announced late on the 20th that specific airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco and Qatar. Anything larger than a standard cell phone must be checked in and not carried in the cabin.

Why have both countries taken a definitive step against electronics on airplanes?

US officials have cited multiple attacks that have taken place due to ‘new age’ technology being developed and used by terrorist groups. The Department of Homeland Security brought up the examples of "the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt, the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul" as past examples that show electronics can affect airplane security.

They also pointed out to intel received that the main bombmaker for Al-Qaeda Ibrahim Hassan al- Asiri is supposedly involved with a new frontier for bombmaking that could lead to a more covert form of explosives. Coupled with the travel ban, this combines to form Trump’s plan against terrorism internally.

The UK has been embroiled in multiple radicalization cases over the past year and could seek to cut down the information coming into the country. However, the British government has yet to make a formal statement addressing the move.   

How will the nations react to the ban?

In relation to the USA’s foreign policy, they are directly targeting supposed allies. Jordan and Saudi Arabia have long standing friendships with the US but they have imposed the ban anyway. It remains to be seen how the nations will react. 

Crucially they name some of the main airports in the world on the list such as Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha and Dubai International Airport (DXB) in Dubai which could inconvenience people flying into the USA. 

Besides from the inconvenience faced by the nations under both the UK and US ban, it is unlikely to decrease or increase terrorist activity in both the nations as avenues to be exploited still exist in the hyperconnected world.

Assessment

A symbolic move like this to Middle Eastern countries continues the negative dialogue being portrayed by the Trump administration. This seems to be a direct reaction to the blocking of the Presidents travel ban being blocked for a second time by the US high courts. The ban in theory does nothing to help overall security as terrorists can still conceal ‘new age’ explosives in their baggage.

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