Worldview Security Report – May 13, 2019
13-May-19

ASIA

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): At approximately 1650 local time (1150 UTC) on 11 May 2019, three gunmen stormed the upscale Pearl Continental Hotel, located in the Koh-e-Batil area of Gwadar in Balochistan province. Police officers exchanged gunfire with the attackers for several hours, eventually shooting and killing all three. Four security officers and one hotel employee were also killed, while six other people were injured during the attack. Authorities stated that there were no guests and few staff members in the hotel at the time of the attack due to Ramadan. The Balochistan Liberation Army — an active secessionist militant group in the province — claimed responsibility for the attack and stated that it was directed at “Chinese and other foreign investors.”

AUSTRALASIA

Australia (Security threat level – 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 13 May 2019, Tropical Cyclone Ann was located approximately 770 km (480 mi) east-northeast of Cairns, Queensland. At that time, the storm was moving west at a speed of 26 kph (16 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 83 kph, with gusts of up to 102 kph. The storm is expected to make landfall on the Cape York Peninsula and then rapidly dissipate; heavy rainfall is possible in Far North Queensland beginning on 14 May.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 11 May 2019, approximately 18,600 people participated in “yellow vest” demonstrations across France. The number of attendees was even lower than the 18,900 who participated in the demonstrations on 4 May. In Paris, approximately 1,200 people held a march near Jussieu University in the 5th arrondissement, but there were no reports of violence.

Clashes between police officers and protesters were reported in the cities of Lyon, Nantes and Le Boulou. In Lyon, police officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters near the Place Bellecour. In Nantes, police officers fired tear gas after a small group of protesters threw projectiles, smashed windows and erected barricades. Outside the city of Le Boulou, police officers fired tear gas to prevent protesters from blocking access to a highway. At least 11 people were injured and 12 people were arrested nationwide.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia / United Arab Emirates (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 13 May 2019, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister stated that two of the nation’s oil tankers were attacked off the coast of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 12 May. The UAE Foreign Ministry confirmed that the two Saudi commercial vessels were sabotaged, but also reported that two other commercial vessels (one Emirati and one Norwegian) were sabotaged near UAE territorial waters on 12 May. There were no reports of injuries. While two of the Saudi vessels reportedly sustained significant damage, there were no reports of oil spills.

Meanwhile, in a separate incident on 13 May, an unidentified object damaged a Norwegian-registered oil tanker off the coast of Fujairah. Reports indicate that the object left a hole in the hull of the vessel, but reports indicate it remains seaworthy. It is unclear if the incident is related to the alleged sabotage attacks.

In response to the incidents, the U.S. Maritime Administration issued an updated Maritime Security Communication to Industry, in which it stated that while it had received reports of the “attacks or sabotage on one or more vessels,” it had no information regarding ”the precise means of attack or sabotage.” It advised vessels in the area to “exercise caution when transiting this area.”

Analyst Comment: The Saudi government claims that there is possible Iranian involvement in the sabotage incidents. Commercial maritime operators in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz should monitor developments closely.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Peru (Security threat level – 3):
On 10 May 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Locations: Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Puno.
  • “Event: Two agricultural unions announced a national strike on Monday, May 13. To ensure the safety of its passengers, PeruRail will temporarily suspend service from Cusco to Machu Picchu and on PeruRail Titicaca, which connects Cusco with Puno.”
  • 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.