by Kevin Stoda
I would like to inform readers that low levels of embargoes go on between the USA and other lands often--too often.
These embargoes are not as official as the one with Cuba has been for nigh 50+ years. The reasons for embargoes can include political as well as security or logistical matters. For example, the recent tit-for-tat between Venezuela and the USA has led both countries to expel and regulate official and unofficial visits between the USA and Venezuela. the next step could be related to goods, services or trade. The result is that American citizen services are effected--i.e. as security clouds are raised in concern globally/regionally or simply as part of a subtle tit-for-tat embargo of ideas, communications, and people.
I'll never forget that while living in Europe in the 1980s numerous French visitors and officials indicated they had felt mistreated by USA emigration authorities. The French leadership's response for several months was to force Americans, including American business travelers and tourists, to obtain a visa prior to enterng the country. After a few months of tit-for-tat responses between the French and American officials occurred , things eventually cooled down and eventually trade along with interpersonal or international exchanges went back to normal status on both sides of the Atlantic.
However, decades later, these sort of low-level embargoes or tit-for-tat infightings between various governmental authorities, bureaucrats, USA officials, and/or agencies goes on continually and effects correspondences, trade, and the lives of average Americans at home and abroad.
Why a USA Embargo on Omani mail?
For example, since the February 2015, I have not been permitted to mail directly a single letter to my friends, family, or financial advisers in America. I live in Oman-- a relatively neutral land in the Middle East--and no enemy of the USA.
Currently, it is not 100% clear as to what is actually going on between the USA and the Omani Post Office--or USA officials and Omani officials at some level or the other. A cursory search on the internet shows no clear statement of an embargo in existence. Nonetheless, one exists.
I was made aware of this during the last weeks of February 2015 as I entered the Salalah, Oman Post Office to mail letters. The postal master, who normally is quite friendly and takes my letters with a great smile, instead looked at me and my communications with a frown.
As this aging Omani rifled through my letters and post cards to the USA, he shook his head. Then the Oman Post Official obtained (and shared with me) a print-out of a chain of emails in Arabic and in English from the head office in Muscat to American officials. In one of these posts it was stated:
"STATION : JFK
VALID FROM : 05/FEB/15 VALID TO : UFN
FLTS AFFECTED : ALL
DESCRIPTION : IMPORT EMBARGO FOR MAIL
REASON : EXTREME CONGESTION AT POST OFFICE
EXCEPTIONS : NONE
SOURCE : NYC FG/H"
The EMBARGO date was set as 08 February 2015.
In my nearly 30 years of living outside the USA, I have never heard of an embargo of mail from the USA from or to any other country's mail (from me) before. As far as I know, this has not even ever been the case with Cuba or Venezuela.
NOTE: Nor was I aware before reviewing that official Oman post e-mail, that all Middle Eastern entered the USA at a single airport.
At the time, I could only imagine that this was just a temporary security issue, whereby the USA Post Office was overwhelmed for a few weeks and while Homeland Security was failing to do its job to get the backlog on mail from abroad cleared in a timely manner
It is Almost April? Still No Mail
Now, it is almost April 2015 and I received today the following email from family in the USA: