Worldview Security Update – August 9, 2019
9-Aug-19

ASIA

India (Security threat level – 3): As of 9 August 2019, heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding across Kerala state has caused significant disruptions to transportation — including aviation — and damage. Shortly before 0800 local time on 9 August (0230 UTC), officials at Kerala’s Cochin International Airport (VOCI/COK), located in the city of Kochi, announced the suspension of all flight operations until 1500 local time on 11 August. Heavy rains caused Chengal Thodu canal — located adjacent to the airport — to overflow and enter parts of the facility, forcing officials to suspend airport operations. Additionally, authorities have suspended rail services on the Alappuzha coastal route until further notice and a number of inundated roadways in the area have been closed. On the same day, authorities issued a red alert — which indicates a high likelihood of very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall — for the districts of Ernakulam, Idukki, Kannur, Kasargod, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur and Wayanad. According to the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KDSMA), at least 22,165 people have been evacuated from their homes and are taking shelter at 315 temporary camps in the state in the aftermath of widespread flooding. There have also been reports of landslides in the Kozhikode and Wayanad districts. At least 22 weather-related fatalities have been reported since heavy rain and subsequent floods began affecting the state on 9 August. Heavy rainfall in parts of the state is forecast to temporarily subside on 10 August before resuming on 15 August.

Taiwan / China (Security threat levels – 2 / 3): On 9 August 2019, Super Typhoon Lekima weakened to become a typhoon and was located approximately 235 km (145 mi) north-northeast of Taipei, Taiwan, as of 0900 UTC, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). At that time, the storm was moving northwest at 19 kph (12 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 195 kph with gusts of up to 240 kph as well as waves of up to 13 m (42 ft) in height. The storm is projected to make landfall near Taizhou in China’s Zhejiang province on 10 August. Meteorologists forecast that Lekima will then slowly weaken as it travels up China’s eastern coast toward Shanghai. Affected areas are likely to face strong winds, and could receive up to 200 mm (8 inches) of rain. Flood warnings are in place for the eastern portion of the Yellow River as well as for the Yangtze River. Chinese authorities have issued a red alert, the highest level of alert on a four-tier scale, advising schools and businesses to close. Local officials are also preparing for possible evacuations. Train services between Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as between Chengdu and Chongqing will be suspended over the weekend of 10-11 August.

Lekima affected Taiwan on 9 August and caused significant flight disruptions; at least 300 flights to and from the island have been canceled thus far. Power outages affected approximately 40,000 homes and rail services were suspended in areas north of Taichung. Rail services have since resumed and authorities have largely restored power in the area.

EUROPE

Portugal (Security threat level – 2): Portugal’s National Union of Drivers of Hazardous Material (SNMMP) and freight drivers plan to launch an indefinite strike action beginning at 0000 local time on 12 August (2300 UTC on 11 August) 2019. Government officials have guaranteed fuel to critical sectors — including hospitals, seaports, airports, military bases, and emergency responders — but warned that the strike could cause disruptions to non-essential services. A previous strike by the union in April 2019 resulted in the declaration of an energy crisis and caused significant disruptions to operations at Lisbon Airport (LPPT/LIS) and Faro International Airport (LPFR/FAO) due to a nationwide fuel shortage. Union leaders and government officials are expected to continue negotiations through the weekend of 10-11 August in order to annul the labor action.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): According to reports on 9 August 2019, Russian opposition candidates barred from participating in local elections in Moscow have called for protesters to stage another round of nationwide demonstrations on 10 August. Currently, an unsanctioned protest is planned to take place in Moscow beginning at 1400 local time (1100 UTC); demonstrators initially plan to gather on Sakharov Prospect near the Garden Ring Road. Additionally, a sanctioned protest will take place in Yekaterinburg; demonstrators will gather in a park near 8 March and Bolshakova streets. A number of additional concurrent government-sanctioned protests are planned in the cities of Krasnodar, Tyumen and Rostov-on-Don. Meanwhile, an unsanctioned protest is scheduled in Belgorod, with plans to initially gather at the city’s central Sobornaya Square. In most cases, protesters plan to congregate at a meeting location and then march into the nearest city center.

Analyst Comment: In the past, these demonstrations — especially those that take place at unsanctioned locations — have turned violent, as authorities forcibly disperse protesters. During previous demonstrations, authorities have detained hundreds of protesters; reports indicate that several bystanders may have also been temporarily detained. Additionally, nearly all the opposition activists who previously coordinated such demonstrations have been detained ahead of planned 10 August protests, raising the likelihood that the upcoming round of protests will be less coordinated. Travelers should avoid all demonstrations, as violence is an ever-present concern during such gatherings.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): On 8 August 2019, police officers clashed with demonstrators over an illegal bonfire in northern Belfast’s New Lodge neighborhood. At least 150 police officers deployed to the area to support workers who were working to contain an anti-internment bonfire that was blocking the Queens Fire road. A group of youth then started throwing stones, bottles, wood pieces and other projectiles at the officers, forcing them to retreat from the site. Three police officers were injured in the clashes. Bonfires are set alight in Northern Ireland on 9 August to mark the passing of a U.K. internment law and the mass arrests of republican suspects on the same day in 1971.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 8 August 2019, Yemen-based Houthi militants claimed responsibility for two armed drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport (OEAB/AHB), located approximately 110 km (68 mi) from the Yemeni border. The rebels claim that they disrupted air traffic at the facility. Saudi officials, however, stated that Saudi forces intercepted both drones. There were no independent reports of causalities, damage on the ground or flight disruptions.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Chad (Security threat level – 5): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in N’Djamena issued an Alert regarding safety around the National Day and Tabaski holidays, which reads in part as follows:

"Alert: Safety Around August 11 National Day and Tabaski (Eid al-Adha)

"The U.S. Embassy ‎in Chad reminds U.S. citizens that national days and religious holidays have historically provided symbolic opportunity for terrorist attacks. The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling around Chad, especially in regards to travel in the Lake Chad Region. Refer to the Safety and Security page of the State Department’s Country Information page . "

India (Security threat level – 3): On 8 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi issued a Security Alert for Hyderabad, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Hyderabad

“Event: Local media in Hyderabad have reported a significant increase in police presence throughout the city. This weekend will coincide with the Varalakshmi Vratam and Bakrid holidays. Given the likelihood of large crowds, U.S. government personnel are being advised to avoid the Old City section of Hyderabad throughout the holiday weekend. Expect heightened police presence, additional traffic checks, and road closures.
"Actions to Take:

  • Avoid the Old City section of Hyderabad throughout the holiday weekend.
  • Avoid areas with demonstrations and civil disturbances."

Kyrgyzstan (Security threat level – 4): On 9 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Central Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

“Event: There is a likelihood that demonstrations that began overnight on August 8 may continue over the weekend. Groups protesting the arrest of former president Atambayev, independent citizen groups protecting residences and businesses, as well as law enforcement troops were involved in clashes in downtown Bishkek overnight from August 8 – 9. Press reports that more demonstrators may be arriving in Bishkek and the chance of unrest and further violence remains high.

“U.S. citizens are advised to avoid central Bishkek, including government buildings and main arteries leading to the center. U.S. government personnel have been advised to avoid downtown Bishkek from the evening of Friday August 9 until Monday August 12.”

Romania (Security threat level – 2): On 9 August 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Romania to include the following: “Large scale planned political demonstrations are expected on Saturday 10 August. Over 250,000 people are expected in Bucharest, with other cities around Romania announcing similar demonstrations. If you are in the area you should follow local police instructions.”

South Pacific Islands (Security threat level – 1): On 8 August 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Majuro issued a Health Alert regarding dengue fever in the Marshall Islands, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Marshall Islands, Ebeye

“Event: Dengue fever epidemic

“On August 7, 2019, the Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (GRMI) issued a State of Health Emergency due to a dengue fever outbreak on Ebeye island. Ebeye is conducting an island-wide clean-up of potential mosquito breeding areas. U.S. citizens should also note that the GRMI issued a travel advisory, effective immediately, that restricts travel from Ebeye to outer atolls and islands that are not equipped to manage severe dengue cases.”