Worldview Security Update – July 11, 2019
11-Jul-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 0700 local time (1200 UTC) on 11 July 2019, “Potential Tropical Cyclone Two” — which is forecast to become Tropical Storm Barry — was located approximately 225 mi (360 km) southeast of Morgan City, Louisiana, and about 115 mi south-southeast of the entrance of the Mississippi River, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC). At that point, the disturbance was moving in a westerly direction at a speed of 5 mph (7 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph with higher gusts. On the current forecast track, the disturbance will turn to the west-northwest on 12 July before moving in a northwesterly direction by the early hours of 13 July. The disturbance is expected to further strengthen over the next 48 hours and develop into a tropical depression or a tropical storm, which could then become a hurricane by the late hours of 12 July and approach the coastal areas of Louisiana state on 13-14 July.

The storm is expected to produce an additional 10-15 inches (24-40 cm) of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 20 inches, near and inland of the central Gulf Coast by early next week. Parts of Louisiana’s New Orleans metropolitan area have already received 6-9 inches of rain, which caused severe flash floods in the area the previous day. Routine daily activities in the city, including in the popular French Quarter and nearby areas, were disrupted. However, there were no reports of significant injuries or fatalities. The governor of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency and mobilized National Guard troops in anticipation of disruptions associated with the potential hurricane approaching the state’s coastal areas over the forthcoming weekend.

At present, a Storm Surge Watch is in effect from the entrance of the Pearl River to Intracoastal City, Louisiana; surges of 3-6 ft (1-2 m) are possible in these areas. A Hurricane Watch is in effect from the entrance of the Mississippi River to Cameron, Louisiana. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the entrance of the Mississippi River northward to the Mouth of the Pearl. Additionally, tornadoes are possible across the southern parts of Louisiana and Mississippi states on 11-12 July.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Beginning on 13 July 2019, a number of demonstrations are scheduled to take place in Hong Kong as part of the ongoing protests against a now-suspended controversial bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. A protest organized by the North District Parallel Imports Concern Group against the extradition bill as well as against traders catering the mainland tourists is expected to begin at 1530 local time (0730 UTC) on 13 July in the Sheung Shui area of New Territories. Although the exact protest route is currently unknown, the rally is scheduled to begin at the North District Sports Ground.

Separately, a protest march organized by Shatin Commons is expected to take place in the Sha Tin district in the New Territories at 1530 local time on 14 July. Organizers expect approximately 10,000 attendees, and the march will begin at the Chui Tin Street Soccer Pitch in Tai Wai before moving to the Sha Tin Government Offices, which are located approximately 2 km (1 mi) away.

Other proposed protests are currently being planned for 21 and 28 July, but these still require approval from authorities. The 21 July rally proposed by the Concerned Group for Tseung Kwan O People’s Livelihood and Community Alliance is being discussed to take place in the Tseung Kwan O area of the Sai Kung District in New Territories. It would include a march to the offices of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) to protest against perceived negative media coverage of the protests by the news outlet. On 28 July, a group plans to march from Tseung Kwan O’s Po Tsui Park to the Velodrome Park approximately 1.5 km to the south.

Demonstrations are also possible in areas where protests have previously taken place, such as the Central District, and near government offices. Despite the expansion of the protests, there are no indications that operations or transportation from and to Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG) are likely to be affected.

Meanwhile, on 10 July, minor clashes broke out at Yau Tong MTR station, located in the Kowloon area, between supporters and opponents of the controversial extradition bill. The clashes occurred as protesters attempted to erect a “Lennon Wall” (location for citizens to post messages supporting the protests) at the station, and counter-protesters attempted to remove the messages. At least two people were arrested at the station, and the situation resolved by 0000 local time on 11 July. Furthermore, later at approximately 0100 local time, a counter-protester attempting to remove messages at a Lennon Wall in Kowloon Bay assaulted a protester. The attacker was later arrested.

EUROPE

Greece (Security threat level – 3): On 10 July 2019, a severe storm struck the Hakdidi region in northern Greece, located near Thessaloniki city, and brought heavy rainfall, gale-force winds, and hailstorms to the area. The storm — which lasted for approximately 20 minutes — uprooted trees, caused power outages and damaged buildings and vehicles in the area. A total of six foreign tourists were killed and at least 30 others were injured. In response, authorities have declared a state of emergency and deployed at least 140 emergency personnel to conduct relief efforts.

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 July 2019, a large-scale fire broke out at a power station in the town of Mytishchi, located approximately 20 km (12 mi) northeast of Moscow. Approximately 150 firefighters and several helicopters responded to the scene and extinguished the fire. There were no reports of power outages and interruptions to power in Moscow are not expected. At least one person was killed and 13 others were injured in the fire. A gas leak at the facility may have sparked the blaze.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iran / United Kingdom (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): On 11 July 2019, U.K. officials stated that three Iranian paramilitary vessels attempted to impede the passage of the U.K.-flagged oil tanker Heritage which was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. A U.K. warship accompanying the commercial vessel reportedly issued several verbal warnings to the Iranian vessels, prompting them to retreat. However, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard denied that such incident had occurred. This development follows the Iranian government’s warning that the U.K. would face “repercussions” for seizing an Iranian supertanker off Gibraltar, a U.K. overseas territory, on 4 July. The Iranian vessel was captured on a suspicion that it was breaching European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.
Analyst Comment: U.K. officials suspect the three paramilitary craft likely belonged to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Maritime operators in the Persian Gulf should monitor the situation closely and report suspicious activity to relevant authorities.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Nigeria (Security threat level – 5): A clash between hundreds of protesters and police officers is ongoing in Eagle Square in downtown Abuja, as of the afternoon hours of 11 July 2019. Anti-riot police officers deployed tear gas and live ammunition to disperse members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) who are protesting for the third consecutive day against the detention of IMN leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky. Protesters threw stones at police officers in retaliation. Several demonstrators were injured and police officers arrested at least five demonstrators, including two senior leaders. Elsewhere in Nigeria, IMN members gathered in the Ikeja area of Lagos to demand el-Zakzaky’s release. The latter demonstration has remained peaceful thus far, with police officers closely monitoring the demonstration.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

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

  • “Location: Nationwide
  • “Event: The U.S. Embassy Lilongwe has received reports of potential vigils in vicinity of Area 3 Police Station and Maula Prison in Area 6. U.S. Embassy personnel are being advised to avoid these areas. Embassy travel outside of Lilongwe is permitted with security office approval through Friday, July 12.
  • “Past protests have been predominantly peaceful, opportunistic actors have used the demonstrations as cover to engage in acts of vandalism and looting.
  • “Peace Corps Volunteers have been temporarily relocated within Malawi out of an abundance of caution.”
  • Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 10 July 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lima issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Nauta, a town in the eastern part of Loreto Province in the Peruvian Amazon, roughly 100 km south of Iquitos. Nauta is a staging area for several ecotourism lodges and boats on the Marañón River, and is adjacent to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve.
  • “Event: Indigenous and civil groups are blocking road and river transit in and around Nauta to protest delayed efforts to remediate an oil spill that occurred in June. Fifty-four indigenous federations are also participating in a strike throughout Loreto Province.”
    Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 July 2019, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued an updated advisory for the Jeddah Flight Information Region (FIR). The advisory notes that the Federal Republic of Germany has prohibited German carriers from operating flights in the southwestern sector of the Jeddah FIR, effective on 8 July 2019.
  • 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.