Worldview Security Report – March 12, 2019
12-Mar-19

AMERICAS

Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 11 March 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced via social media that the U.S. Embassy in Caracas will be withdrawing all of its remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela by 16 March, citing the “deteriorating situation.” As of this writing, the U.S. Department of State’s Travel Advisory for Venezuela, which remains unchanged at a Level 4, advises U.S. citizens against all travel to the country.

ASIA

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 12 March 2019, the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan issued a revised Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) in which it advised that the country’s airspace will remain closed to transit flights until 1500 local time (1000 UTC) on 13 March. Authorities did not give an explanation for the extension of the country’s airspace closure.

EUROPE

Sweden (Security threat level – 2): Early on 12 March 2019, a power outage forced the delay and cancellation of several trains out of Stockholm. The outage is affecting several long-distance and inter-city trains; it is not affecting the main rail line or commuter trains. Affected services include trains from Stockholm to Gothenburg, Malmö, Uppsala, Karlstad, Norrköping and Falun. Disruptions are ongoing, and a spokesperson for the Swedish National Transport Administration stated that it could take until 1900 local time (1800 UTC) on 12 March for the problem to be resolved. The outage occurred after an electricity wire was torn down; it is currently unknown what caused this to occur.

United Kingdom / Ireland (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): As of 12 March 2019, high winds and heavy rains from Storm Gareth are affecting the United Kingdom and Ireland. In the U.K., authorities have issued several “yellow” warnings — the lowest on the three-tier scale — for strong winds across all of Northern Ireland from 1500 local time/UTC on 12 March to 1200 local time on 13 March; for strong winds in southern and western Scotland and all of England and Wales from 1200 local time on 12 March until 1500 local time on 13 March; and for heavy rain in northern England from 0015 to 1500 local time on 14 March. Meteorologists forecast that areas along the western coasts could experience winds of up to 65 mph (105 kph) with higher gusts possible, while inland areas could face winds of 50 to 55 mph. Authorities have issued six flood warnings, indicating that flooding is expected, and 37 flood alerts, indicating that flooding is possible, for areas across England on 12 March. The storm has already disrupted transportation, resulting in the cancellation of a number of ferry services, speed restrictions on several rail services, restrictions on roads and bridges, and the closure of the B712, the M6 and the M48 Severn Bridge. In addition, disruptions have been reported at London’s Heathrow Airport (EGLL/LHR), London City Airport (EGLC/LCY) and Cardiff Airport (EGFF/CWL) due to strong winds. The Met Office warned that disruptions to bus and train services, as well as loss of power, remain possible from 12 to 14 March.

In Ireland, Met Éireann issued an “orange” wind warning — the second level on the three-tier scale — for Donegal, Leitrim, Mayo and Sligo from 1200 local time on 12 March to 0900 local time on 13 March. Winds of up to 75 kph with higher gusts of up to 130 kph are expected. Authorities also issued a “yellow” wind warning for the rest of the country from 1200 local time on 12 March to 1200 local time on 13 March, with winds of up to 65 kph and gusts of up to 110 kph possible. Power outages, downed trees and hazardous road conditions are expected throughout the day on 12 March.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 11 March 2019, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika withdrew his candidacy for re-election for a fifth term amid protests against his possible re-election. Algerian authorities announced that elections — originally scheduled for 18 April — will be postponed pending a transition period. The transition period will include the formation of a National Transition Conference and the drafting of a new constitution. Following the announcement, Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia announced his resignation and the country’s Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui assumed the post on an interim basis.

In response to the announcement, hundreds of people gathered in Algiers’ Audin Square in celebration of President Bouteflika’s decision. Demonstrators, however, also criticized Bouteflika’s decision to postpone the 18 April presidential elections, and called for a new election date to be set. They also questioned whether the president intends to step down before the rescheduled election occurs.

Analyst Comment: In light of President Bouteflika’s decision, it is likely that the frequency of demonstrations will decrease in the short term; however, significant uncertainty remains regarding the transition and protests will likely resume if it becomes apparent that Bouteflika is using the transition as cover to extend his term in office.

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 12 March 2019, Israeli police officers closed down Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary after clashes broke out between police officers and Palestinian worshipers. Unidentified assailants threw a Molotov cocktail at a police checkpoint outside the holy site, which caused a small fire; there were no reports of casualties. Israeli police officers evacuated and closed all entrances to the holy site and have also blocked entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City. Police officers have arrested at least three worshipers. Palestinian officials claim that several officials from the Palestinian Ministry of Religious Endowments were among those arrested.




GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Mozambique (Security threat level – 3): On 11 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique issued a Weather Alert regarding Cyclone Idai, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Sofala, Zambezia, Manica, and Tete
  • “Event: Cyclone Idai is developing in the Mozambique Channel. The storm is expected to make landfall in northern Sofala and southern Zambezia provinces between Thursday, March 14 and Friday, March 15, 2019. Forecasters expect extremely high winds, dangerous storm tides, heavy rainfall, and flooding in the provinces of: Sofala, Zambezia, Manica, and Tete.
  • “Actions to Take:
  • “Reconsider travel to Sofala, Zambezia, Manica, and Tete provinces until the storm has dissipated.”

  • Spain (Security threat level – 3): On 12 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Madrid issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Spain
  • “Event: The U.S. Embassy in Madrid has become aware of a public criminal investigation against Manuel Blanco Vela, an operator of several small tour companies based in Seville, Spain, who is alleged to have targeted U.S. citizen visitors for sexual assault. Media reports indicate that numerous American students have filed complaints with the Spanish authorities stating that Blanco has sexually assaulted them during trips that his company has organized for U.S. citizens during their study abroad programs in Spain, or during other activities that he has organized in the Seville area since 2013.
  • “Actions to Take:
  • Conduct research online to determine who owns and operates tour companies to make informed
  • Make sure the tour company you engage is a legitimate business. When in doubt, you may wish to consult with your study abroad program. Do not accept free trips from local tour
  • Review your personal security
  • Be cautious in situations involving alcohol. Do not consume food or beverages that someone may have tampered with – particularly drinks that have been out of your
  • If you find yourself in an emergency, call 112 immediately.”

  • Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 11 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Venezuela
  • “Event: Demonstrations are scheduled to take place throughout Venezuela on March 12 and may continue in the following days. The movement of U.S. government personnel will be restricted to the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy.”

  • 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.