Worldview Security Report – January 9, 2019
9-Jan-19

AMERICAS

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): As of 9 January 2019, gasoline shortages are affecting at least six states in central and western Mexico. The affected states include Guanajuato, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Jalisco, Oaxaca and Querétaro. There are also reports that some gas stations in the capital Mexico City are closed. In Guanajuato, nearly 85 percent of gas stations are reportedly out of fuel. In Michoacán, only 10 percent of stations are supplying gas and only 60 percent of public transportation services are operating. Gas stations in the affected states are now limiting purchases to 10-20 liters (2.5-5 gallons) per vehicle. The shortages come as authorities have instituted measures to thwart oil theft from state-owned pipelines, including closing a supply pipeline from the Salamanca refinery in Guanajuato and shifting the transport of fuel to tanker trucks and rail cars from pipelines.

ASIA

Bangladesh (Security threat level – 4): On 9 January 2019, thousands of striking garment factory workers took to the streets of Dhaka for a fourth consecutive day to demand higher wages. The protesters blocked roads and burned tires in the Savar industrial district, located north of Dhaka. Participants threw stones and bricks at police officers, who used water cannons, tear gas and batons to disperse protesters. Clashes also occurred in the Nawjor area of Gazipur, located north of Dhaka. More than two dozen people were injured in the clashes across the city, including several police officers. The strikes and related protests occurred despite the fact that the Bangladesh government announced that it had formed a panel to review pay demands on 8 January.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 9 January 2019, suspicious packages were sent to more than a dozen foreign consulates and embassies in Melbourne and Canberra. The full list of affected foreign offices in Melbourne is unclear, although local media stated that emergency workers were seen at consulates belonging to the U.S., U.K., India, Pakistan, Greece, South Korea, New Zealand, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and France. It is unclear which embassies in Canberra received packages; preliminary reports indicate that the Israeli Embassy in Canberra received a package, but it was unknown if other embassies did as well. Authorities have not confirmed the contents of the packages, but preliminary reports indicate that they contained asbestos, a hazardous mineral that can cause cancer and other diseases when inhaled in large amounts. Authorities stated they believe “the matter is targeted” and did not pose a broader public threat. A motive for the mailing of the suspicious packages is unknown.

EUROPE

Germany (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 9 January 2019, security workers at three German airports plan to hold all-day strikes on 10 January over a pay dispute. The strikes, which were called by labor union Verdi, will begin at 0000 local time (2300 UTC on 9 January) at Düsseldorf International Airport (EDDL/DUS) and Cologne-Bonn Airport (EDDK/CGN) and at 0300 local time at Stuttgart Airport (EDDS/STR); the labor actions will last until midnight on 10 January at all three airports. Dusseldorf Airport issued a statement warning passengers that the strike will affect operations and that severe delays at security controls are expected. The airport advised passengers to check the status of their flight before traveling to the airport and to arrive early in order to pass through security checkpoints before their flight. A Verdi negotiator stated that further strikes are possible if employers do not sufficiently increase wages.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): As of 9 January 2019, security personnel in armored vehicles have been deployed to guard the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) located in Kinshasa on Boulevard 30 du juin. Security officers have also closed the Boulevard 30 du juin from Avenue Lwambo Makiabi to the Gare Centrale, the central train station, located on Avenue des Senegalais. Kinshasa residents have continued normal activities despite the heightened security.

The heightened security comes as CENI officials are preparing to announce the provisional election results. It is currently unclear when the announcement will take place; however, a CENI official stated that the discussions would take between 24-48 hours, meaning the announcement should be between 9 and 10 January.

Gabon (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 8 January 2019, Gabon’s border crossing with Cameroon has remained closed since the attempted coup in Cameroon on 7 January. Gabonese officials reportedly closed the border to “protect citizens” during a period of political unrest. It is unclear when the border will reopen. The border closure has halted trade and left a number of people stranded. Some Gabonese claim that the border closure is already affecting the availability of food within Gabon.

Madagascar (Security threat level – 3): On 8 January 2019, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) confirmed former President Andry Rajoelina’s victory in the contested 2018 presidential elections. The HCC reported that Rajoelina had secured 55.66 percent of the votes, while Marc Ravalomanana had won 44.34 percent.

Analyst Comment: Previous reports of Ravalomanana’s loss in the runoff election have triggered protests in the past. For instance, on 5 January, Ravalomanana’s supporters clashed with police officers outside City Hall in Antananarivo over the election outcome. Similar events may occur in response to the HCC’s confirmation of Ravalomanana’s loss.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Eswatini (Security threat level – 3): On 8 January 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ezulwini issued a Weather Alert regarding flash flooding, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Parliament Road near the MR-3.
  • “Event: The Embassy has received a report of flash flooding on Parliament Road near the MR-3. Embassy staff has been warned that flooding has occurred in the low lying area where the river goes under Parliament Road.”

  • Gabon (Security threat level – 3): On 9 January 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Gabon regarding the failed coup, which reads in part as follows:

  • “On 7 January there was a failed coup attempt by a small group of military officers. Following a few hours of sporadic gunfire in Libreville, the situation was brought back under control. Political stability in Gabon remains uncertain following the result of the 2016 presidential election, with violent clashes occurring between demonstrators and security forces at that time. Further protests may quickly turn violent without warning. You should avoid all demonstrations and rallies and remain vigilant during periods of unrest.”

  • Switzerland / Liechtenstein (Security threat levels – 2 / 1): On 9 January 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued a Weather Alert for Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Switzerland and Liechtenstein Alpine Regions
  • “Event: The Swiss Weather Service and the European Avalanche Warning System report a significant increase in avalanche danger as a consequence of fresh snow and strong wind. In the late morning danger level 4 (high) will be reached in some regions, particularly in Western Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Avalanches can be released very easily. Large and occasionally very large natural avalanches are to be expected. Exposed parts of transportation routes can be endangered in some cases. The conditions are very critical for snow sport activities outside marked and open pistes.
  • “Actions to take:
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities and guides.
  • Avoid back country skiing (“off piste”) or other winter sports in affected areas.
  • Stay on marked and open pistes for snow sport activities.
  • Monitor local media for updates before and during your travel.
  • Monitor websites of the European Avalanche Warning system and the Swiss Avalanche Report website.”

  • 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.