Worldview Security Update – June 17, 2019
17-Jun-19

AMERICAS

Argentina / Uruguay (Security threat levels – 3 / 2): According to reports on 17 June 2019, electricity was restored to Argentina and Uruguay by the end of 16 June after a massive power outage occurred earlier in the day at approximately 0705 (1005) local time. The blackout — which also affected parts of Brazil, Chile and Paraguay — caused disruptions to local transportation and forced some businesses to close; however, there were no disruptions to major airports or hospitals, as they were able to operate on backup generators. The cause of the blackout remains unclear; preliminary reports indicate that it was due to a “massive failure in the electrical interconnection system.” Argentine authorities have opened an investigation into the cause of the blackout, with results expected to be released in 10 to 15 days.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 15 June 2019, United Airlines Flight 627 partially skidded off the runway while landing at Newark Liberty Airport (KEWR/EWR) in New Jersey, causing the airport to temporarily halt all flight operations. Passengers and crew members safely disembarked the aircraft after it skidded to the left of the runway, leaving its main landing gear stuck in a grassy area; there were no reports of injuries. The airport resumed normal operations shortly after the incident, but knock-on delays continued thereafter.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Early on 17 June 2019, several hundred protesters in Hong Kong’s Central District dispersed after blocking access to several major roads overnight — including the Hartcourt, Queensway and Lung Wo roads — as part of a mass protest march against the proposed extradition bill. Protest organizers stated that at least 2 million people attended the march on 16 June, with police officers stating that an estimated 338,000 people were present at the height of the event. After clearing the roads, the protesters gathered at Tamar Park and marched to the office of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, where they called for her resignation; there have been no reports of disruptions related to this march. Meanwhile, while the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF) — the main group behind the protests — had also previously indicated plans to launch a citywide general strike beginning on 17 June, it appears that the strike call is being largely ignored and there have been no disruptions to transportation or other services. The demonstration over 16 and 17 June occurred even after the Hong Kong government announced that it was indefinitely suspending the extradition bill.

India (Security threat level – 3): As of 0300 UTC on 17 June 2019, Tropical Cyclone Vayu was located approximately 330 km (205 mi) south of Karachi, Pakistan. At that time, the storm was moving northeast at a speed of 22 kph (14 mph) and was generating maximum sustained winds of 65 kph with gusts of up to 83 kph. Vayu will bring isolated heavy rain to India’s Gujarat state as it passes over the area in the early hours of 18 June.

EUROPE

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): On 16 June 2019, climate activists affiliated with “Extinction Rebellion” postponed their plan to disrupt operations at London Heathrow International Airport (EGLL/LHR) on 18 June. The group did not announce a date for the postponed protest action, but stated that it would give notice at least two months ahead of any drone activity. The group has also canceled its planned demonstration for 18 June and those planned for 1 through 11 July.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): As of 17 June 2019, the U.K.’s Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union is expected to launch a five-day strike to demand improved safety standards beginning on 18 June. Union leaders claim South Western Railway (SWR) has failed to fulfill its promise to staff each train with a security guard. SWR stated that the strike will disrupt services, but that trains will still be running. It has advised passengers planning to attend the Royal Ascot horse race over 18-22 June to check details of trains online. The SWR also stated it will continue negotiations with RMT union leaders despite the forthcoming labor action.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Benin (Security threat level – 3): As of 17 June 2019, tensions remain high in Savè and Tchaourou following several days of clashes between security forces and protesters over a series of arbitrary arrests allegedly linked to the April parliamentary elections. The most recent incident of violence occurred in Savè on 15 June, when security forces opened fire on protesters who have been blocking the Cotonou-Parakou road since 11 June. At least two civilians were killed and seven others were injured. It is unclear if roadblocks in Savè have been cleared. There have been no reports of violence in Tchaourou since 14 June. Currently, there are three mediators in Tchaourou seeking to negotiate with protesters, but clashes may still occur without notice.

Analyst comment: Savè and Tchaourou are strongholds of former President Boni Yayi, who remains under house arrest due to his call to boycott the April parliamentary elections.

Central African Republic (Security threat level – 5): On 15 June 2019, security personnel used force to disperse an unauthorized rally organized by the United Front for the Defense of the Nation and held in Bangui’s 8ème arrondissement. Security forces prevented event organizers from accessing the planned event venue and allegedly fired warning shots to disperse approximately 100 demonstrators who gathered at an alternate venue for the rally located about 1 km (0.6 mi) from the original rally site. In addition, security personnel briefly assaulted and arrested two foreign journalists present at the scene, destroying their cameras and mobile phones. Officials had banned the rally due to the prevailing security situation.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 16 June 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Georgia, which reads in part as follows:

  • “There is a planned gathering in central Tbilisi for Sunday 16 June, likely to affect the area around Vera Park related to opposition to the forthcoming Tbilisi Pride events planned for 18 – 23 June. There is the possibility of further unplanned demonstrations and counter-demonstrations over the next week in central Tbilisi, including near parliament, the State Chancellery, Freedom Square and Vera Park. Demonstrations in Tbilisi are usually well policed, but you should avoid large gatherings or demonstrations and follow the instructions of local authorities.”
  • Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 14 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Demonstration Alert that reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Honduras, countrywide
  • “Event: Ongoing demonstrations by multiple sectors of Honduran society including workers from various economic sectors, activists, students, and others.
  • “Although recent protests have been largely peaceful, unannounced and spontaneous protests may continue and lead to the closure of businesses as well as roadblocks in major cities and along the CA-5 highway connecting Comayagua and Puerto Cortes, along the CA-13 highway connecting San Pedro Sula and Trujillo, and in and around Choluteca.”
  • Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 14 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Michoacán, Mexico
  • “Event: Change in Travel Policy for U.S. Government Employees in Michoacán State “The U.S. Embassy has updated its travel restrictions for U.S. personnel visiting Michoacán state for official business. Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:
  • U.S. government employees may travel on Federal Toll Highway (cuota) 15D to transit the state between Mexico City and Guadalajara.
  • U.S. government employees may travel to Morelia by air or by land using highways 43 or 48D from Highway 15D.
  • U.S. personnel must travel to Lázaro Cárdenas by air only and must stay within the city center and port areas.”
  • 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.