Worldview Security Update – June 13, 2019
13-Jun-19

AMERICAS

United States (Security threat level – 2): On the night of 12 June 2019, several dozen local residents clashed with armed police officers in the city of Memphis, located in southwestern Tennessee state. The clashes occurred after U.S. marshals shot and killed an African American suspect — who had outstanding arrest warrants — outside the latter’s residence in the city’s northern Frayser neighborhood. Residents subsequently gathered to protest the killing and police officers were deployed in the area. Protesters threw rocks and other projectiles at the responding officers, prompting them to fire tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd. At least 24 police officers were injured and several police cars as well as a nearby fire station were damaged during the episode. Racial issues remain an incendiary topic across the U.S., and such shooting incidents that involve members of a minority group occasionally spark violent protests.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 13 June 2019, approximately 1,000 demonstrators gathered outside the Legislative Council building in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong’s Central district to protest against a proposed extradition bill. A few minor confrontations between protesters and police officers occurred in some areas, but the demonstration was largely peaceful. A large deployment of police officers remained throughout the area to block walkways and check identity cards. Government offices and several businesses in the vicinity of the protests announced closures through the end of the week. The Legislative Council also postponed planned debates on the bill scheduled for 13 and 14 June, but did not announce a new date for the debates. Approximately 80 people were injured during clashes between protesters and police officers on 12 June, and at least 11 people were arrested.

Roads around the Legislative Council complex were largely open for motorists. However, minor protest-related incidents affected some rail services at MTR stations after demonstrators deliberately attempted to prevent trains from leaving by obstructing doors when trains stopped at stations. A rail official stated that at least 20 incidents were recorded, which resulted in delays of 20 minutes. The Civil Human Rights Front, which organized a large-scale rally on 9 June, announced that it plans to hold another protest on 16 June.

India / Pakistan (Security threat levels – 3 / 5): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 13 June 2019, Tropical Cylcone Vayu was located approximately 530 km (329 mi) south-southeast of Karachi, Pakistan. At that time, the storm was tracking north-northwest at 6 kph (4 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 167 kph, with gusts of up to 204 kph. Vayu is forecast to pass near the coast of India’s Gujarat state on 13 June, and may generate a storm surge of up to 2 m (7 ft). Authorities have evacuated more than 300,000 people from Gujarat’s coastal districts and have deployed disaster response personnel ahead of the storm’s passage. Heavy rains are likely in parts of Gujarat state as well as in Pakistan’s Sindh province. Vayu is then forecast to trek westward toward the Arabian Sea by 14 June.

EUROPE

Switzerland (Security threat level – 2): As of 13 June 2019, various unions and rights groups plan to embark on a nationwide strike and stage demonstrations on 14 June to advocate for women’s rights. Union leaders stated that women plan to go on strike in order to demand equal pay and equal rights in the workplace. A previous labor action by women took place in 1991, during which approximately 500,000 women participated in associated demonstrations. The largest protests are expected in Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich. The demonstrations are expected to remain nonviolent, but transportation disruptions are possible in the vicinity of the protests.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

United Arab Emirates / Oman / Iran (Security threat levels – 2 / 2 / 3): On 13 June 2019, two suspected attacks targeted two oil tankers while they were transiting the Gulf of Oman. One of the tankers — a Panamanian-flagged vessel — was carrying methanol from a port in Saudi Arabia to Singapore. The other tanker — a Marshall Islands-flagged vessel — was carrying naptha from a port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Taiwan. The vessels sustained significant damage but did not sink. All 44 crew members onboard the vessels were safely evacuated; reports indicate Iranian search and rescue crews transported the crew members to the Iranian port of Jask. The perpetrator of the suspected attacks remains unknown and maritime officials are investigating the incidents. In response to the suspected attacks, Norwegian authorities warned commercial carriers to maintain a safe distance from the Iranian coast

Analyst Comment: Initial reporting on the suspected attacks indicates they are consistent with earlier maritime attacks off the coast of Fujairah, UAE, which occurred on 12 May 2019, and involved magnetic mines. Maritime operators in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman should monitor the situation closely and report suspicious activity to authorities.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 12 June 2019, authorities reported that at least 300 suspected Islamist militants attacked several Cameroonian military outposts on the island of Darak, located on Lake Chad in northern Cameroon, on 9 June. Security forces and militants exchanged gunfire for several hours; at least 88 people were killed during the exchange, including eight civilians, 16 Cameroonian soldiers and at least 64 suspected militants. Security forces detained at least eight militants and are working to locate other suspects. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Boko Haram militants based in northeast Nigeria have conducted numerous cross-border raids into Chad and Cameroon in the past. Military sources stated that the latest attack is one of Boko Haram’s most deadly attacks in Cameroon in recent years.

Democratic Republic Of The Congo (Security threat level – 5): Emerging reports on 13 June 2019 indicate that two separate ongoing protests — one in the capital Kinshasa and the other in Kisangani, located in the northeastern Tshopo province — have turned violent. In Kinshasa, anti-government demonstrators burned tires and blocked roads near the constitutional court building, which is situated in the Gombe district. The latest reports indicate that the number of protesters is growing. On the previous day, the opposition Lamuka coalition called for peaceful demonstrations to protest against a constitutional court decision to invalidate the mandates of several opposition parliament members.

Separately, another protest is currently underway in Kisangani. Demonstrators have blocked major thoroughfares in the city. Security personnel are at the scene but have been unable to disperse the crowd, as of last report. At least four people in Kisangani have been killed and two others suffered gunshot wounds during the ongoing unrest. Demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the killing of a local civilian by a soldier.

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 12 June 2019, Ethiopian authorities shut down SMS messaging services across the country. The block on access to social media platforms — which authorities imposed on the previous day — remains in effect nationwide. Officials have not given an official explanation for the communications and social media shutdowns; however the actions are likely to prevent cheating during the second day of national secondary school final exams. The government implemented similar measures during national exams in 2016 and 2017.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Pakistan (Security threat level – 5): On 13 June 2019, the U.S. Consulate in Karachi issued a Weather Alert that reads in part as follows:

  • “Event: Cyclone Vayu, currently categorized as a tropical cyclone, is expected to impact Sindh Province beginning Thursday, June 13. Widespread dust and thundershowers with scattered heavy to very heavy rainfalls are expected in the Badin, Thatta, and Tharparkar districts of Sindh. Sea breeze is likely to remain cut off, resulting in heatwave-like conditions in coastal areas of Sindh, including Karachi, where the ‘feels like’ temperature could reach 50 degrees Celsius.”
  • Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 12 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Abha International Airport, Asir Province
  • “Event: Media report a missile hit Abha International Airport. The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran are monitoring the situation.
  • “Actions to Take: Monitor local news and review safety procedures in case of missile or drone engagements: https://sa.usembassy.gov/security-alert-u-s-mission-saudi-arabia-safety-procedures-case-missile-strikes/
  • “During an Incident

  • Immediately seek shelter or some form of protective cover.
  • Go to the most secure area on the lowest level of your current location with the fewest exterior walls, windows, and openings.
  • Close the door of the room.
  • Sit on the floor near an interior wall, away from any windows.
  • If you do not have time to take shelter in a building or find protective cover: Lie down and cover your head with your hands to provide some protection from debris.
  • After the Incident:

  • If you are in need of urgent medical care and/or an immediate police response, call the appropriate emergency number for Saudi Arabia: Police – 999, Civil Defense/Fire – 998, Ambulance – 997.
  • Account for the whereabouts and safety of family members and inform loved ones that you are safe.
  • Do not approach missile debris or fragments under any circumstances. Instead, immediately move away from the object(s) to a safe location. Fumes from hot or burning missiles can be harmful. Some missile debris may include unexploded ordnance or corrosive fuel.
    Monitor major news outlets, official information sources such as the Saudi Press Agency and the Saudi Civil Defense Directorate (in Arabic), as well as the Mission’s American Citizen Services (ACS) Twitter feed and website. Keep in mind that initial media reporting, and especially social media commentary, may be inaccurate.”
  • 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.