Tuesday, March 21, 2017

U.S., Britain Restrict Electronics On Flights From Mideast Countries

Airline passengers coming to the U.S. and Britain on direct flights from a number of majority-Muslim nations must now place most electronic devices, including laptops, tablets and cameras, in checked baggage under stepped-up security measures, the Trump administration and the British government said.

Passengers can still carry smartphones into the plane's cabin, but nothing larger, officials from the two countries added.

The measures took effect Tuesday morning, and in the U.S. they cover about 50 incoming flights a day from the eight countries on the list — Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

All are traditional U.S. allies and none is among the six majority-Muslim nations on President Trump's controversial executive order that seeks to temporarily suspend immigration. The president issued a revised executive order on March 6, and that one, like the original in January, has been halted by the courts.

The six countries cited in Trump's order all have fraught relations with the U.S., and several are plagued by unrest or civil war, including Syria, Libya and Yemen.

In contrast, the countries on the new U.S. airline list are mostly stable, have generally good relations with the U.S. and include four wealthy states in the Gulf.

Britain, meanwhile, has six countries on its list — Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The differences appear to be based on the different airlines that fly into Britain and the United States. The two countries held consultations before making their separate announcements.

"We have been in close tough with the Americans to fully understand their position," the British government said in a statement.

The U.S. officials said the airplane restrictions are based on intelligence indicating that terrorist groups are still plotting to blow up civilian planes. The officials stress that the latest measure is not related to the president's executive order, but it's certain to draw comparisons amid the ongoing political and legal battle over Trump's immigration order. 

The U.S. action covers 10 airports in the eight countries — Amman, Jordan; Cairo; Istanbul; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Jiddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. 

That list appears to include every airport in the region that offers direct flights to the U.S. except one — Israel's main airport just outside Tel Aviv. - More, NPR

U.S., Britain Restrict Electronics On Flights From Mideast Countries

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