Worldview Security Report – March 29, 2019
29-Mar-19

AMERICAS

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): The main opposition coalition has called for renewed nationwide anti-government protests beginning on 29 March 2019. Opposition leaders have urged their supporters to continue protesting until current President Jovenel Moise steps down from office. While newly appointed Prime Minister Jean Michel Lapin has stated that the government will only allow peaceful demonstrations to take place, travelers in Haiti should be aware that most protests turn violent and should avoid all large gatherings as a precaution.

Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2019, American Airlines suspended flights to Venezuela indefinitely due to low demand. The airline had been planning to resume flights to Venezuela on 1 April, after temporarily halting flights on 15 March due to safety concerns. American Airlines had been operating three daily flights from the U.S. city of Miami to the Venezuelan cities of Caracas and Maracaibo prior to its suspension of service. The airline is one of a number of carriers that have halted flights to Venezuela in recent years due to the country’s political and economic crises.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1140 local time (0040 UTC) on 29 March 2019, officials at Sydney Airport (YSSY/SYD) briefly grounded all flights after smoke was detected in the air traffic control tower. Flights resumed approximately 80 minutes later after firefighters cleared employees to return to the tower. Several flights were delayed or diverted during the incident. There have been reports of flights being delayed for up to two hours after operations resumed. A malfunctioning battery backup attached to the control tower’s computer system reportedly caused the fire. There were no reports of injuries.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): As of 29 March 2019, the French government will be implementing increased security measures ahead of the 20th consecutive weekend of “yellow vest” protests. As they did last week, authorities will continue to ban demonstrations on Paris’ Champs-Elysées and the Place de l’Etoile; however, the government has now extended the ban to the Élysée Palace and the National Assembly. Officials have also banned protests in other parts of France, including the Capitole de Toulouse and the city centers of Rouen and Avignon.

Despite the bans, protests are likely to occur at these locations. In Paris, protesters have petitioned for the right to hold demonstrations along the Champs-Elysées, as well as near the Place de la Bastille and Place du Trocadéro. Protesters are also planning to march from Gare de l’Est in the 10th arrondissement to Place du Trocadéro in the 16th arrondissement. Demonstrations are also scheduled to take place in Bordeaux, Lyon, Nice, Saint-Etienne and Toulouse.

Germany (Security threat level – 3): On 29 March 2019, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) and Ver.di unions announced that they are planning to launch a 24-hour strike on 1 April to protest against low wages and poor working conditions. The strike is expected to cause significant disruptions to tram, bus and subway train services in Germany. The S-Bahn — the above ground railway — is expected to remain operational, but will likely be crowded due to disruptions to all other forms of public transportation.
Spain (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 29 March 2019, the far-right Vox party intends to hold a large demonstration in central Barcelona on 30 March. The protest will be held at the Plaza de España and on the nearby Reina María Cristina Avenue, after the government withdrew its permission for the group to gather at the Palau Sant Jordi stadium. Arran — the pro-independence youth organization – plans to hold a counterprotest at Plaza de España and nearby Tarragona Street. Traffic disruptions should be anticipated in the vicinity of Plaza de España. Furthermore, the possibility of violence between Vox supporters and counterprotesters remains a concern.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3) : On 29 March 2019, several demonstrations are expected to be held in central London to mark the original Brexit date when the U.K. was slated to leave the European Union. The pro-Brexit U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) is expected to hold a demonstration at Whitehall starting at 1630 local time/UTC. The far-right Democratic Football Lads Alliance is also expected to hold a demonstration with the Nigel Farage-led “Leave Means Leave” campaign at Parliament Square starting at 1600 local time. Counterprotesters have already started to gather outside Parliament as the government meets to hold a third Brexit vote. Police officers have been deployed to monitor the protests. Traffic disruptions should be anticipated in and around the planned gathering sites.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Comoros (Security threat level – 3): As of 29 March 2019, additional details have emerged regarding the political unrest that broke out in Comoros the previous day. Comoros’ interior minister confirmed that a gunfight between a group of renegade soldiers and security forces broke out near Moroni’s main military base on 28 March. The renegade soldiers — whom officials had incarcerated on charges of having attempted to stage a coup in Comoros in 2018 — had escaped from prison and traveled to the military base in an unsuccessful attempt to rally troops to join them. At least three people, including two of the gunmen, were killed in the clash.

The incident occurred after several opposition presidential candidates announced earlier on 28 March that they were forming the National Transition Council in an effort to “preserve peace, stability and national cohesion” following the 24 March election in which President Azali Assoumani retained power. Security personnel subsequently arrested opposition leader Mohamed Soilihi. Opposition leaders have called for further civil unrest across the islands if the Supreme Court upholds the election results.

In response to these developments, on 28 March, the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar, issued a Security Alert in which it ordered the departure of U.S. government personnel in Comoros, citing political unrest, infrastructure disruptions and gunfire. The full text of the Security Alert is available in the Government Warnings section below. Meanwhile, the French government issued updated travel advice for Comoros in which it noted that further disturbances to public order are possible nationwide in the post-election period and recommended that its citizens postpone travel to Comoros until further notice. Moreover, it counseled those in country to shelter in place and keep informed of developments.

Analyst Comment: Further unrest is possible throughout Comoros in the lead-up to the Supreme Court’s 3 April deadline to confirm the results of the election. As the political situation in Comoros remains unpredictable, the overall security environment could further deteriorate with little notice. Travelers and expatriates in Comoros should stockpile food, water and other necessities so as to be prepared for any travel restrictions that may occur as the security situation deteriorates further. They should also avoid all large-scale gatherings and demonstrations, as security forces frequently use tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Algeria (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Algeria issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Throughout Algeria
  • “Event: Demonstrations continue to take place throughout the country. At previous demonstrations, there have been isolated reports of clashes between police and small groups of protestors, and reports of property damage and injuries. U.S. government personnel are advised to limit non-essential movements during and immediately after large demonstrations and to not participate, watch, or remain near demonstrations or areas where they observe acts of criminality.”
  • Comoros (Security threat level – 3): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar, issued a Security Alert for Comoros, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Throughout the three islands of the Union of the Comoros
  • “Event: The Union of the Comoros is experiencing gunfire, political unrest, and infrastructure disruptions. US Government personnel have been ordered to depart the country.”
  • Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Quito issued a Natural Disaster Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Sangay Volcano, Morona Santiago Province, Ecuador.
  • “Event: According to the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School, there is increased volcanic activity at Sangay volcano. The Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism recommends that visitors do not hike up to the crater or approach the high areas of the volcano.”
  • Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Announced gathering points include, but are not limited to, Gaza and city centers in the West Bank. Locations throughout Israel and the West Bank could also be settings for demonstrations, protests, and police, military, and/or civilian response. Security incidents, including rocket fire, can occur well beyond Gaza and its periphery and at any time, as demonstrated by the March 14 and March 25 rocket attacks in Central Israel.
  • “Event: Demonstrations are expected to take place March 29-30 on the anniversaries of the March of Return and Land Day. Previous demonstrations have sometimes encountered a strong security force presence and response.
  • “In the event of mortar and/or rocket fire, a Red Alert siren may be activated. Treat all such alerts as real; follow the instructions from local authorities and seek shelter immediately. For additional information on appropriate action to take upon hearing a siren or explosion, see the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command website. Know the location of your closest shelter or protected space.”
  • Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 29 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Mexico, which reads in part as follows: “There has been a recent increase in violence in the State of Veracruz, including the city of Veracruz; illegal roadblocks have been reported more frequently.”

    South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: City of Pretoria – the Union Building and the University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • “Event: A large number of demonstrators are expected to protest against load shedding on Friday, March 29, 2019, in Pretoria. The protests will take place at both the Union Building and the University of South Africa (UNISA) between 8:00 A.M and 2:00 P.M. Disruptions to motor vehicle traffic are likely in the vicinity of the protests.”
  • Turkey (Security threat level – 4): On 29 March 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Turkey, which reads in part as follows:

  • “All commercial passenger flights operating to and from Istanbul Ataturk Airport are due to be transferred to the new Istanbul Airport between 5-7 April 2019. During the transition period there will be a short period of time where no flights will operate from either airport, and thereafter restrictions of the frequency airlines can operate at, until the transfer is completed. Passengers may be affected by delays and cancellations during the transition period and for a limited period after the transfer, and should contact their airline for further information. If you’re travelling from Istanbul Airport, we recommend that you plan to arrive well in advance of your flight’s scheduled departure time, in case of possible delays reaching the airport. Once the transfer is completed, the IATA airport code IST will apply to Istanbul Airport and Istanbul Ataturk will acquire IATA airport code ISL.”
  • Venezuela (Security threat level – 4): On 28 March 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Nationwide
  • “Event: Demonstrations are scheduled to take place throughout Venezuela on March 30 and may continue in the following days. Due to the failure of the national electricity grid, much of Venezuela lost electricity on March 26, and it is not known when power will be fully restored. Public water supplies, cell phone networks, and the internet are affected. Additionally, many hospitals are unable to provide emergency services due to current conditions.”

  • 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.