Arab officials unite for aviation, maritime security
By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 15/06/12
Arab officials are calling for a regional approach to protecting civil aviation and maritime traffic from acts of terrorism.
Security chiefs from around the Arab world convened in Tunis for their 11th annual conference, devoted to the development of an agreement to combat terrorism against transport and to prevent the expansion of maritime piracy.
In the two-day meeting, which ended June 7th, security experts recommended the immediate exchange of information on aviation security to prevent and respond to terrorist acts in a co-ordinated manner.
Mohamed Ben Ali Koman, Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, said at the meeting that arms trafficking was the single biggest threat to the Arab region, particularly in light of fragile security situations in countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.
"There are signs of concern, as events in the Arab region since last year have placed increasing burdens on Arab security agencies tasked with border control," he said.
Border security, officials said, was essential to any efforts against maritime piracy. This includes the policing of port facilities and airports in the Red Sea and Mediterranean Sea.
A report released in May by the Gulf Union for Petrochemicals and Chemicals confirmed the growing risks affecting supply chains in the Middle East due to constricted travel lanes for ships carrying valuable cargo.
Despite a reported 50% decline in piracy this year compared to last year, conference participants continued to push for joint response procedures and for Arab states to join international conventions related to maritime security. In addition, the experts said, national laws should incorporate provisions that criminalise maritime piracy.
Also of concern at the conference was the security of parcel post; participants proposed that the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers track new developments in postal security technology, as well as in monitoring the security of airports and ports.
Ben Ali Koman said the Arab world often served as a transit region for drugs, illegal immigration and human trafficking, and that it was incumbent upon the region's security agencies to be more vigilant without impacting travel and tourism.
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