Worldview Security Update – August 15, 2019
15-Aug-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3) : A number of anti-government protests are planned throughout Hong Kong from 16-18 August 2019. On 16 August the Hong Kong Higher Institutions International Affairs Delegation (HIIAD) is expected to hold a demonstration at Chater Garden in Central between 2000 and 2200 local time (1200 and 1400 UTC). Authorities have approved the gathering. In addition, organizers have encouraged supporters to make mass withdrawals from ATMs in order to put pressure on banks that have supported the government.

On 17 August teachers plan to march from Chater Garden to Government House, which is also located in Central, beginning at 1100 local time. An additional protest is scheduled to begin in Hung Hom, which is located in Kowloon, at 1530. Whether authorities have approved these demonstrations remains unknown.

On 18 August the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) plans to rally in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. The protesters initially planned to march from Victoria Park to Chater Road in Central, but authorities denied that plan. At present, the CHRF has the permit to organize the protest at Victoria Park from 1000 to 2300 local time and have launched an appeal to reinstate the originally planned march from the park to Chater road. Previous demonstrations organized by the CHRF have recorded over 2 million attendees and turnout for the upcoming protest will likely be high as well. An unrelated protest march is also reportedly scheduled to begin at 1400 in Tsing Yi and end at Tsuen Wan. However, it remains unknown whether authorities have approved the latter protest.

Analyst Comment: In addition to the aforementioned protests, other impromptu protests are also likely to occur in other areas of Hong Kong, and can result in violence. Clashes between protesters and police officers are more likely at spontaneous protests as well as after planned protests conclude at night. Authorities have increasingly shown a willingness to use force, such as firing tear gas, with very little warning. Travelers should avoid all gatherings in Hong Kong as a precaution, and should avoid wearing dark clothing so as not to be confused with protesters.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 1800 local time (0900 UTC) on 15 August 2019, Tropical Storm Krosa was located approximately 65 km (40 mi) southeast of the city of Iwakuni, and was moving north at 28 kph (17 mph). At that time, Krosa was generating maximum sustained winds of 83 kph with gusts of up to 102 kph. Current forecasts indicate that Krosa will continue into the Sea of Japan until 16 August before making a turn toward the northeast. Krosa made landfall near the city of Kure, which is located approximately 20 km southeast of Hiroshima, at approximately 1500 local time on 15 August. At least one person was killed, and 23 others were injured due to the storm. Approximately 700 flights were also canceled throughout the Kyushu, Shikoku and Kansai regions on 15 August. West Japan Railway announced that all Shinkansen rail services and normal rail services between Shin-Osaka and Kokura were canceled. Authorities also warned that landslides were possible due to the high levels of rain, which exceeded 730 mm (29 inches) in some areas.

EUROPE

Ireland (Security threat level – 2): At approximately 1100 local time (1000 UTC) on 15 August 2019, authorities at Shannon International Airport (EINN/SNN) announced the resumption of flight operations at the facility following the temporary suspension of flights. Officials had suspended operations at the airport at about 0600 local time following an incident in which a Boeing 767-300 aircraft caught fire on the runway. According to reports, the landing gear of an Omni Air chartered flight that was carrying U.S. military personnel caught fire and the pilot had to abort takeoff. At least 145 passengers and 14 crew members on board evacuated the aircraft. There were no reports of injuries. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and airport officials had the aircraft removed from the runway before resuming operations.

Following the resumption of flight operations, authorities warned that flight delays are expected to continue throughout the day and advised passengers to check the status of their flights with the airlines. Six flights scheduled to operate through the airport were canceled during the episode.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): At approximately 0630 local time (0330 UTC) on 15 August 2019, Ural Airlines flight U6178 with at least 230 individuals on board performed an emergency landing in a field, located approximately 1 km (0.6 mi) from Moscow’s Zhukovsky International Airport (UUBW/ZIA) shortly after takeoff. The Airbus A321 aircraft experienced an engine failure caused by a birdstrike during takeoff. At least 23 passengers were injured. The aircraft was scheduled to travel to Simferopol.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Libya (Security threat level – 5): Early on 15 August 2019, an airstrike targeted Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport (HLLM/MJI). The strike reportedly caused a large fire inside the airport and forced authorities to suspend air traffic at the facility. Flights have been redirected to Mistrata Airport (HLMS/MRA). At least one person was killed and several others were injured in the attack. Attacks targeting HLLM are frequent and often result in the suspension of flight operations, but casualties and large-scale damage are rare.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Zimbabwe (Security threat level – 4): Beginning on 16 August 2019, several civil society groups and supporters of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance party are expected to gather in the capital Harare and elsewhere in the country to protest against the policies of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe’s deteriorating economic situation. The MDC has stated that the protests will continue indefinitely, and additional demonstrations are scheduled to take place in the cities of Bulawayo, Gweru, Masvingo and Mutare through at least 22 August. As of 15 August, there is a notable presence of riot police officers and military vehicles throughout Harare, including along major roads, in the central business district and in the city’s suburbs, in preparation for the anticipated protests.

Protest organizers have stated that participants would engage in peaceful protests to increase political pressure on Mnangagwa to address issues such as rising costs and nationwide shortages of food, fuel, water and other basic commodities. Mnangagwa, meanwhile, has called on the MDC to cancel the upcoming protests. The government has not sanctioned any of the gatherings; as such, these demonstrations will likely turn violent, as authorities often use heavy-handed tactics to forcibly disperse protesters.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burundi (Security threat level – 5): On 14 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Bujumbura, from the CNDD-FDD headquarters to Place de l ’Indépendance

“Event: A planned march will be held in downtown Bujumbura on Saturday, August 17 in celebration of Imbonerakure Day. The march is expected to start around 9:00 a.m. at the CNDD-FDD headquarters off of Route-1 and end at Place de l’Indépendance at approximately noon. The size of the march is unknown, but similar events in the past have been over 1,000 people.”

China (Security threat level – 3): On 14 August 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Hong Kong, which reads in part as follows: “Exercise increased caution in Hong Kong due to civil unrest.

“Since June 2019, several large scale and smaller political demonstrations have taken place in various areas of Hong Kong, including at Hong Kong International Airport. Most have been peaceful, but some have turned confrontational or resulted in violent clashes. Police have used a variety of crowd control measures, including the deployment of tear gas. The protests and confrontations have spilled over into neighborhoods other than those where the police have permitted marches or rallies. These demonstrations, which can take place with little or no notice, are likely to continue.”

The full text of the advisory can be read here .

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 15 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Koy Tash and Central Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

"Event: U.S. Embassy Bishkek has lifted restrictions of travel in and around the village of Koy Tash and throughout the downtown area of Bishkek for U.S. citizens and government personnel, following the arrest of former President Atambaev and the end to demonstrations by his supporters. U.S. citizens should continue to take all normal precautions when traveling in the Kyrgyz Republic."

Myanmar (Security threat level – 4): On 15 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yangon issued a Security Alert that reads in part as follows:

"Location: Eastern Mandalay Division and Northern Shan State, Burma

“Event: There are reports of ongoing armed engagements between the Burmese military and ethnic armed organizations in the area between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio. As of the afternoon of August 15, 2019, roads and railways between these townships are closed. U.S. Embassy staff members are not permitted to travel between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio at this time.

“Actions to Take:

  • Avoid the area between Pyin Oo Lwin and Nawnghkio at this time.
  • Monitor local media for updates.
  • Notify friends and family of your safety.
  • If you are northeast of Nawnghkio (Hsipaw or Lashio), check with local authorities for travel options. Travel toward Mandalay by land might not be possible at this time."