Worldview Security Update – August 23, 2019
23-Aug-19

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Protesters reportedly plan to conduct a “stress test” at Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) between 0700 and 1100 local time on 24 August 2019 (2300 UTC on 23 August and 0300 UTC on 24 August) by using both public and private transportation in order to bring more traffic to the airport and subsequently cause flight delays. The number of attendees for the “stress test” remains unknown, but it could cause significant delays in the event of a high turnout.

In a related development, a Hong Kong court has extended an interim injunction against unlawful assemblies at Hong Kong International Airport. The court initially issued the injunction following disruptive, large-scale protests at the airport on 12-13 August. Authorities have warned that obstructing roads could constitute a violation of the injunction. Since 14 August, airport officials have maintained access controls, which only allow passengers with valid travel documents — including boarding passes for flights departing within 24 hours — to enter terminals.

China / Taiwan (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC on 23 August 2019, Tropical Storm Bailu was located approximately 770 km (480 mi) south-southeast of Taipei, Taiwan. At that time, Bailu was moving northwest at 19 kph (12 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 83 kph with gusts of up to 102 kph. Current forecasts predict that Bailu will make landfall in Taitung County, located along the southeastern coast of Taiwan, by 24 August. The storm will then cross the Taiwan Strait and make a second landfall near the southeastern Chinese port city of Xiamen, located in Fujian province, by 25 August. Taiwanese authorities issued sea and land warnings on 23 August due to expected rough sea conditions, as well as severe rainfall throughout the island. Moreover, officials relocated thousands of tourists off islands on the east coast and canceled several domestic flights and ferry services. In addition, authorities have deployed at least 34,000 soldiers across the south in anticipation of flooding.

EUROPE

Spain (Security threat level – 3): Iberia Airlines ground workers at Barcelona El Prat Airport (LEBL/BCN) are expected to observe a strike on 24-25 and 30-31 August 2019. The strike is expected to affect 27 airlines that operate through the airport, as Iberia Airlines ground workers service other airlines as well. The work stoppage will reportedly impact approximately 18,000 passengers. Meanwhile, Vueling Airlines preemptively canceled 112 flights in preparation for the strike. Government officials have a minimum services guarantee of 53% of international flights and 32% of domestic peninsular flights. Travelers should consult with their airlines to determine the status of their flights.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 23 August 2019, unidentified militants detonated an explosive device near the Ein Bovin spring, in the West Bank settlement of Dolev. Reports indicate that the bombing targeted a group of hikers. One hiker was killed and two others were injured in the attack. Authorities are investigating the bombing and a search operation to locate the perpetrators is underway. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Such bombings are rare in the West Bank.

Jordan (Security threat level – 3): On 22 August 2019, Jordanian authorities announced that several cities in Jordan will experience water service disruptions from 25-29 August. The disruptions will affect water service for thousands of subscribers in Amman, Ajloun, Irbid, Jerash, Mafraq and Zarqa. Officials stated that authorities are working to repair damage to a water pumping station at the Disi Water Conveyance Project, which was allegedly sabotaged. Officials are investigating the incident.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Malawi (Security threat level – 3): As of 23 August 2019, the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) is expected to move forward with plans to stage protests at all ports of entry in Malawi from 26-30 August. According to organizers, demonstrations will take place on the roads near Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (FWKI /LLW) and Blantyre’s Chileka International Airport (FWCL/BLZ), as well as near the Karonga, Mchinji, Mwanza and Netcheu border crossings. In a press conference on the morning of 23 August, officials with the Ministry of Homeland Security stated that all of Malawi’s airports and land borders will remain open and operational despite the anticipated HRDC demonstrations.

In response to the upcoming protest actions, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe issued a Demonstration Alert on 22 August noting that traffic delays and disruptions along roads leading to airports and border posts should be expected during the demonstrations. In the alert, the embassy urges the “U.S. citizen community to avoid travel in and out of Malawi throughout the week of August 26 – August 30, 2019.” The embassy further recommends that individuals “strongly consider” re-scheduling flights in and out of the country from 26-30 August. The full text of the Demonstration Alert can be viewed here .
Meanwhile, on 21 August President Mutharika ordered security personnel to crack down on protesters and warned that attempts to close borders would be met with “necessary force.” The Malawi Defense Force (MDF) and the Malawi Police Service (MPS) will deploy additional personnel to all protest sites to prevent disruptions during the scheduled protests. The HRDC has organized the demonstrations as part of ongoing protests against the management and results of the May 2019 general election, during which Mutharika was reelected to a second term.

Analyst Comment: Past HRDC protests have escalated into violence, including vandalism and looting by protesters and the use of tear gas and rubber bullets by police officers. Mutharika’s directive to security personnel indicates a higher likelihood of clashes during the upcoming protest actions.

Mali (Security threat level – 5): On 23 August 2019, activists in the Koulikoro and Kayes regions launched a large-scale protest action. During a series of protests, demonstrators in several towns — including Kati, Kolokani, Diedieni, Diema, Sandaré and Kayes — plan to block traffic on the RN1 highway from Kati, located about 15 km (9 mi) northwest of Bamako, to the village of Diboli, west of Kayes on the border with Senegal. As of last report, protesters in Kayes have blocked access roads to the city, including the N1; ambulances and motorcycles are allowed through the roadblocks. Civil society groups organized the large-scale protest — called “Mouvement 23” — to increase pressure on the government to make urgent repairs along the roadway to ensure road safety and facilitate economic development. Protesters are also demanding the restoration of train services in the Kayes and Koulikoro regions, as well as the reopening of Kayes Airport (GAKY/KYS).