Worldview Security Report – January 14, 2019
14-Jan-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 14 January 2019, a powerful winter storm is affecting the East Coast region of the United States. In Washington, D.C., the national capital, the inclement weather has forced federal officials to shut down government offices that had remained open despite the ongoing partial government shutdown. A state of emergency is in effect in Washington, D.C., and the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia; most schools in the region suspended classes for the day. The area has received up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow so far and additional snowfall is forecast for the morning hours. The latest reports indicate that approximately 155 flights have been canceled and an additional 205 flights have been delayed at airports in the region. Most of the disruptions have occurred at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA/DCA) and Washington Dulles International Airport (KIAD/IAD), where operations were suspended for several hours the previous day.

On 11-12 January, icy weather conditions affected several states in the Midwest region and contributed to at least two aircraft incidents. On 11 January, American Airlines Flight 5766, with 80 passengers on board, skidded off the runway at Missouri’s Columbia Regional Airport (KCOU/COU); no one was injured in the incident. Meanwhile on 12 January, Delta Airlines Flight 1708, with approximately 120 passengers on board, slid off the taxiway at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (KCVG/CVG). There were no reports of injuries in either accident.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 12 January 2019, thousands of people participated in “yellow vest” protests across France. The French interior minister reported that approximately 84,000 people protested nationwide, more than the estimated 50,000 people who participated in demonstrations on 5 January. In Paris, approximately 8,000 people protested, twice the number of protesters from the previous week. Paris police officers fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters who threw projectiles near the Arc de Triomphe. Authorities then set up police armored vehicles in the area to prevent further marches on the nearby Champs-Elysees Avenue.

In Bourges, approximately 5,000 people participated in a demonstration outside the city center. Authorities stated that around 500 protesters entered the city center, where demonstrations had been banned by city officials, and clashed with police officers near Place Seraucourt. In Strasbourg, approximately 2,000 people protested in front of the European Parliament then marched to the city center. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters who set trash cans on fire. In Chantilly, around 1,000 people marched through the city center and disrupted horse races at the Hippodrome. Protests also occurred in Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Lille and Lyon, among other cities. At least 115 people were arrested across France, including 74 in Paris. It is currently unknown how many people were injured during the 12 January protests; however, at several of the demonstrations, including in Rouen, Pau, Toulon and Paris, protesters targeted journalists and media outlets in violent attacks, and several injuries were reported.

France (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0900 local time (0800 UTC) on 12 January 2019, a suspected gas leak caused a large explosion at a bakery on Rue de Trevise, located in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. The blast and resulting fire destroyed several nearby vehicles and damaged surrounding buildings within a radius of 100 m (330 ft). At least 200 firefighters and police officers were deployed to the scene. Four people were killed — including two firefighters — and at least 47 others were injured, including 10 critically. The Spanish foreign minister reported that at least one of those killed was a Spanish national. The Paris prosecutor stated that although the blast was thought to be accidental, authorities have not yet ruled out other explanations.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 13 January 2019, security staff at eight German airports announced a strike set to occur during most of the day on 15 January. The strikes, which were called by labor union Verdi, will occur at varying times. The strikes will affect Frankfurt Airport (EDDF/FRA), Munich Airport (EDDM/MUC), Hamburg Airport (EDDH/HAM), Bremen Airport (EDDWBRE), Hannover Airport (EDDV/HAJ), Leipzig/Halle Airport (EDDP/LEJ), Dresden Airport (EDDC/DRS) and Erfurt-Weimar Airport (EDDE/ERF). Verdi stated that it is possible that workers at additional airports will also go on strike. Affected airports and airlines are warning passengers that the strike will have a significant impact on travel. Frankfurt Airport warned travelers that the airport would not be staffed for 18 hours and that flights out of the airport during the strike would be canceled. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the largest airline in Germany and one of the largest in Europe, has canceled at least 414 flights, including both intercontinental services and flights between European countries. In addition, the strikes will also affect connecting operations at other German airports. Previous Verdi strikes at Berlin’s Tegel Airport (EDDT/TXL) and Schönefeld Airport (EDDB/SXF) on 7 January, and at Düsseldorf International Airport (EDDL/DUS), Cologne-Bonn Airport (EDDK/CGN) and Stuttgart Airport (EDDS/STR) on 10 January, resulted in more than 800 flights being canceled.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 12 January 2019, hundreds of people participated in “yellow vest” protests in London. In one demonstration, hundreds of people took part in an anti-austerity march and rally in Trafalgar Square. The demonstration was organized by members of the left-wing “People’s Assembly,” who were calling for a general election. In the second demonstration, approximately 200 to 300 people took part in a pro-Brexit demonstration near the St James’s Park tube station. Protesters then marched to the Palace of Westminster, which houses the U.K. parliament, and blocked Westminster Bridge. There were reports of isolated clashes between rival yellow vest protesters and both demonstrations caused traffic disruptions in central London; however, there were no reports of arrests or injuries.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iran (Security threat level – 3): On 14 January 2019, a Boeing 707 cargo aircraft crashed at Fath Airport (OIFF airport), located on the outskirts of Tehran. The aircraft overshot the runway and crashed into a wall, exploding upon impact. The aircraft was carrying 16 people at the time of the crash; preliminary reports indicate that only one person survived the crash. The cause of the crash remains unknown. The aircraft was reportedly carrying a cargo of meat from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): On 12 January 2019, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu filed a motion with the Constitutional Court in Kinshasa for a manual recount of votes in the 30 December general elections. Fayulu claims to have won the election in a landslide and has accused winning candidate Félix Tshisekedi of striking a power-sharing arrangement with outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Fayulu supporters rallied outside his residence prior to his filing the motion; police officers surrounded the residence and dispersed the gathering. The demonstrators then followed Fayulu to the courthouse and began a demonstration at that location; riot police officers also dispersed that gathering.

Fayulu’s appeal also inspired pro-Fayulu demonstrations in Kasenga (Haut-Katanga province) and in Kolwezi (Lualaba province). Police officers in Kasenga arrested 120 Fayulu supporters, but no violence was reported. There were reports of clashes between Fayulu and Tshisekedi supporters in Kolwezi, resulting in a number of injuries and arrests.
Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): On 14 January 2019, dozens of people took to the streets in Harare and Bulawayo to protest against a recently announced fuel price hike. In both Harare and Bulawayo, protesters burned tires and blocked roads; police officers responded by firing tear gas and water cannons in both cities. Some businesses and schools have closed early in Harare, and riot police officers have been deployed to conduct patrols. Soldiers were also deployed in Bulwayo after there were reports of looting. There have been no reports of injuries. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s main labor federation has also called for a three-day national strike beginning on 14 January to protest against the fuel hike. There have been reports of strike-related protests in Epworth, located approximately 36 km (22 mi) south of Harare, with protesters blocking roads and disrupting public transportation.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Guatemala (Security threat level – 4): On 11 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Guatemala
  • “Event: Various organizations announced today, January 11, that demonstrations and roadblocks will occur throughout Guatemala over the coming days. Expect heavy traffic and blocked roads throughout Guatemala City and in other areas in the country resulting in multiple hour delays. We do not have specific information relating to start or end times for these blockades. U.S. Embassy operations are normal unless otherwise announced.
  • “There is an announced march that will start at the Obelisco toward the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City on Saturday, January 12. On Monday, January 14, a march will start from the end of Reforma Avenue in zona 10 (Calle Mariscal Cruz) in Guatemala City toward downtown, ending at the Constitutional Court.”

  • Security threat levels range from 1 (Very Low) to 5 (Very High) and are determined using a comprehensive system that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. The primary factors used to determine a location’s security threat level are Armed Conflict, Crime, Demonstrations/Strikes, Ethnic/Sectarian Tensions, Graft/Corruption, Kidnapping, Political Instability, Government Restriction and Terrorism.