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November 30, 2020


Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): During the evening of 28 November 2020, riot police deployed tear gas to disperse anti-government demonstrators outside the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City’s historic district in central Zone 1. Hundreds of anti-government demonstrators had peacefully gathered in the Plaza de la Constitución adjacent to the National Palace during the day and tensions escalated as the evening progressed. Sporadic clashes occurred as demonstrators threw stones and other objects at security personnel and vandalized buildings and nearby vehicles, including setting fire to a public bus. At least two people suffered minor injuries. Protesters are demanding that the government resign over a controversial budget for 2021, which was annulled on 25 November after initial protests.


Cyprus (Security threat level – 2): On 30 November 2020, additional nationwide coronavirus-related restrictions imposed in response to a rising number of COVID-19 cases took effect; the new restrictions will remain in place until at least 13 December. While movement restrictions in the districts of Limassol and Paphos have been lifted, an island-wide nightly curfew is in effect from 2100 to 0500 local time (1900 to 0300 UTC) with exemptions in place for emergency personnel and for those who have a letter from their employer explaining the need for their movement. Face masks remain mandatory for individuals ages 12 or older until at least 15 January. Violators of coronavirus-related restrictions are subject to fines.

Italy (Security threat level – 3): During 28-29 November 2020, a heavy rainstorm caused flooding and mudslides on the eastern side of the island of Sardinia. The storm caused significant damage to the town of Bitti, located in the province of Nuoro. The mudslides, which hardened in the streets and reached the second level of many buildings in Bitti, damaged infrastructure and multiple vehicles. At least three people were killed, with several others reported missing.


Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 28 November 2020, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani promised that Iran will retaliate following the assassination of a prominent Iranian scientist on 27 November. The scientist was killed in a coordinated ambush in Tehran’s Absard neighborhood, when unspecified militants detonated a car bomb to stop his vehicle and five gunmen targeted his sedan, shooting and killing the scientist and wounding several of his bodyguards. Iran’s foreign minister referred to the incident as an act of “state terror,” and other top Iranian officials blamed Israel for the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Analyst Comment: While it is unknown whether or how the Iranian government will retaliate for the killing of the scientist, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force (IRGC-QF) maintains significant ties with regional proxy groups — including Kataib Hizballah in Iraq, Hizballah in Lebanon, Ansar Allah in Yemen (also known as the Houthis) — and the IRGC-QF itself maintains a significant presence in Syria. Iranian retaliation may also involve attacks in the maritime domain — such as against oil tankers — in the Persian Gulf or involve cyberattacks, given Iran’s recent pattern of behavior. Businesses with operations in Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon and Iraq should also monitor the situation closely due to Iran’s extensive capabilities. Reports indicate that the government of Israel placed its embassies around the world on high alert as of 28 November, suggesting that officials judge that a potential attack from Iranian forces or their proxies is likely.

Qatar (Security threat level – 2): As of 30 November 2020, the government of Qatar has amended its entry requirements for eligible travelers, which remain restricted to citizens and residents, travelers from countries designated as low risk for COVID-19 infection and third-country nationals under limited exemptions. All travelers must undergo COVID-19 testing on arrival followed by a 14-day quarantine — the first seven days in a government-approved hotel (booked here ) followed by a second COVID-19 test and seven additional days in the home or place of residence if the result is negative. Arriving travelers must also download the government’s Ehteraz track and trace mobile application. In addition, third-country nationals permitted to enter must also show proof of a negative result on a COVID-19 test taken within 48 hours of arrival. Additional details are available here.

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 25 November 2020, a naval mine exploded and damaged an oil tanker in the southern Red Sea off the coast of Shuqaiq, Saudi Arabia. The Maltese-flagged oil tanker, managed by Greek TMS Tankers Ltd, suffered a breach in the hull; however, there were no reports of casualties. The explosion occurred as the oil tanker was berthed at the Shuqaiq Steam Power Plant. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen stated that the oil tanker was damaged by shrapnel from an explosives-laden vessel launched by the Houthis, which coalition forces intercepted and destroyed.


Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): As of 30 November 2020, uncorroborated reports indicate that fighting is ongoing between Ethiopian government forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) throughout the Tigray region, despite earlier claims by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed that the military had taken full control of the situation and that fighting had largely ceased. TPLF leader Debretsion Gebremichael claimed that his forces have captured an unspecified number of Ethiopian forces and possess several missiles. Debretsion further alleged that civilian casualties are high due to government forces looting and indiscriminately attacking civilians, although some international media outlets report that TPLF forces have also attacked civilians — primarily those who are ethnic Amharans.

Meanwhile, Abiy maintains that the central government now controls the regional capital Mekele, marking the “completion” of the military offensive in Tigray. Government forces shelled the city with artillery and heavy weapons on 28 November. Abiy further stated that authorities seek the arrest of TPLF leaders, while rebuilding the region and providing humanitarian assistance. According to Abiy, thousands of officers of the Northern Command captured by the TPLF have been released.

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 30 November 2020, the cities of Gao, Kidal and Menaka were targeted by simultaneous mortar and rocket attacks launched by unidentified jihadi forces. According to a U.N. official, military camps housing international forces — including U.N. peacekeepers and soldiers for the French Operation Barkhane — were struck by at least 10 explosives. No confirmed details were immediately available regarding damage or casualties, although a source within the U.N. mission stated that there was significant damage but no casualties in Kidal.

Analyst Comment: Attacks frequently target international forces in the region, although the events on 30 November mark an increased level of coordination and capabilities among jihadi militants.

Somalia (Security threat level – 5): On 27 November 2020, a suspected suicide bomber attacked an ice cream parlor located in the K-4 junction area of Mogadishu, located near the main security checkpoint to Aden Adde International Airport (HCMM/MGQ). Seven people were killed, and 10 others were injured. Operations at the airport were not affected. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the al-Shabab militant group routinely carries out similar attacks in Mogadishu.


Eritrea (Security threat level – 3): On 30 November 2020, the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) issued updated travel advice regarding recent explosions in Asmara, which reads in part as follows:

“Explosions were reported in Asmara after dark on 14, 26, 27 and 28 November, as a result of rockets launched from the military conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia. Further attacks cannot be ruled out. You should exercise extreme caution; stay away from government and military sites and airports wherever possible; avoid moving around at night and follow local advice.”