Marrakech – Top civilian aviation officials from more than 14 countries across the Middle East and Africa have gathered in Marrakech this week for a landmark conference on aviation security, organized by the Arab Civil Aviation Organization (ACAO), the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the government of Morocco.
Throughout the week, aviation officials will share best practices about how to protect civilian aviation from a range of threats, including cyberattacks, drones, chemical and biological attacks, and explosives, among others. The officials will work on developing effective plans for managing the risks from such threats.
“The global transportation security sector cannot function unless we emphasize the word ‘global,’” TSA Regional Director Jason Schwabel said in his opening remarks to kick of the conference today. “The threats we face do not respect borders or nationality. The world depends on us to work together make sure our transportation systems remain safe.”
Schwabel praised Morocco for hosting the conference, noting that the United States and Morocco have a mutual commitment to supporting regional peace and security. In May of last year, Morocco hosted the Defeat-ISIS Coalition ministerial, the first such gathering on the African continent, which also took place in Marrakech.
Mr. Abdennabi Manar, ACAO Director General, also gave opening remarks (ACAO, headquartered in Rabat, represents civil aviation authorities across the Middle East and Africa. It has 22 member states).
“The relationship between ACAO and the US TSA is strong. Our partnership contributes to strengthening aviation security in the Arab region and beyond. ACAO and the US TSA play complementary and reinforcing roles in supporting international Civil Aviation security. We will further mobilize the set of competencies at our disposal, to pursue our common objectives for the benefit of our community,” said Mr. Manar in his opening remarks.
Several U.S. government agencies supported the organizing of this week’s conference, including the Export Control and Border Security program at the U.S. Department of State, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
Morocco’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation also played a critical support role for the gathering.
The conference is the latest example of the strong U.S. partnership with ACAO. In December, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and ACAO came together in Rabat for a signing ceremony for a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at increasing aviation cooperation across the region.