Worldview Security Update – June 24, 2019
24-Jun-19

ASIA

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 3): On 22 June 2019, President Maithripala Sirisena extended Sri Lanka’s nationwide state of emergency for one month despite previously stating that he would allow the decree to expire on 22 June. Sirisena did not provide further details regarding his decision to extend the decree. Authorities initially imposed the state of emergency in the wake of the 21 April terrorist attacks, which killed more than 250 people in the cities of Colombo, Negombo and Batticaloa.

Taiwan (Security threat level – 2): As of 24 June 2019, the ongoing Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union labor strike at Eva Airways — which commenced on 20 June — has affected approximately 25,300 passengers. According to airline officials, the carrier will only be able to operate at 40% capacity from 24-28 June, resulting in the cancellation of 911 flights and impacting at least 100,000 passengers with previous bookings. Routes affected include those between Taipei and Hong Kong, Japan, London, New York and Singapore. The airline is working to re-book some of the affected passengers. The expected duration of the flight attendant strike remains unclear. However, the union is scheduled to vote on whether to continue the work stoppage on 29 June. Union and airline management have been at an impasse on several issues, including overseas allowances and working hours.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 23 June 2019, Houthi forces carried out an armed drone attack on Abha International Airport (OEAB/AHB), located approximately 830 km (515 mi) southwest of Riyadh and about 100 km north of the Yemeni border. Reports indicate that the drone struck the parking area of the facility and prompted authorities to halt flight operations for approximately one hour. The attack killed one person — a Syrian national — and injured 21 others, including 13 Saudi nationals and eight expatriate workers from India, Egypt and Bangladesh.

Analyst Comment: Houthi militia forces have frequently targeted aviation facilities in Saudi Arabia in

recent weeks. For example, on 20 June, Saudi authorities stated that the country’s air defense systems intercepted a Houthi drone headed for Jizan Regional Airport (OEGN/GIZ). Abha International Airport, which serves both domestic and regional flights, was previously targeted on 12 June by a Houthi missile attack.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 23 June 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced that the situation in Amhara regional state is under control following a failed regional coup attempt in Amhara on the previous evening. During the failed coup attempt, attackers targeted senior government officials in two separate — but related — attacks in the capital Addis Ababa and Bahir Dar, the capital of Amhara regional state. In Bahir Dar, attackers shot and killed the regional state president and his adviser and wounded a senior state government official. Heavy gunfire was reported near the Amhara regional government building in the city for at least four hours and several roads were blocked during the event.

Meanwhile in Addis Ababa, the army chief of staff’s bodyguard shot and killed a retired army general and Ethiopia’s army chief of staff in his residence. Gunfire was reported in the capital during the evening. No civilian casualties were reported in either Addis Ababa or Bahir Dar. As of last report, a heavy security presence remains in place throughout the two cities, and authorities have suspended access to the internet and social media.

Abiy’s government named the Amhara regional state security head General Asamnew Tsige as the person responsible for the foiled coup attempt. Security personnel reportedly killed Tsige and have arrested several suspects. Tsige was previously imprisoned for a similar coup attempt, but was granted amnesty and released from prison in 2018.

Mauritania (Security threat level – 4): On 23 June 2019, supporters of several opposition candidates protested in Nouakchott after the National Election Commission (CENI) declared Mohamed Ould Ghazouani the winner in Mauritania’s presidential election held on the previous day. The protesters burned tires and chanted anti-government slogans. The situation escalated when police officers deployed tear gas against demonstrators near the U.S. Embassy, and demonstrators responded by throwing stones. Demonstrators initially overwhelmed police officers, but security personnel were able to disperse the protesters. No casualties were reported.

According to the CENI’s results, Ghazouani secured an outright majority, with approximately 51.5% of the vote. The next two leading candidates in the poll, including former Prime Minister Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, each received less than 20% of the vote. Several opposition candidates stated that they would contest the election results should the Constitutional Council confirm Ghazouani’s victory by outright majority. Ghazouani is aligned with the administration of current President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, who came to power following a 2008 coup d’état.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Bahrain (Security threat level – 3): On 24 June 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an update to its travel advice for Bahrain, which reads in part as follows: “There have been calls for unauthorised protests on 25 to 26 June. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities.”

Israel / Palestinian Territories (Security threat levels – 3 / 4): On 21 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Anti-American demonstrations may take place in city centers in the West Bank and Gaza. Demonstrations may also occur in other locations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
  • “Event: Anti-American demonstrations are expected to take place on June 24, 25, and 26, 2019. Previous demonstrations have sometimes encountered a strong security force presence and response. On those dates, U.S. government employees and family members are prohibited from official and personal travel to the West Bank. This includes travel along Route 1 and Route 90 through the West Bank.”
  • Nepal (Security threat level – 3): On 24 June 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu issued a Protest Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Nepal
  • “Event: Nationwide political protests are planned from Tuesday, June 25, 2019. This could result in possible disturbances, demonstrations, and actions that result in violence or other disruptions across Nepal. On May 26, 2019, a Biplav initiated bandh resulted in numerous incidents of arson and explosions, some of which detonated in Kathmandu resulting in fatalities. The number of events was an increase over previous Biplav bandhs, and it is possible that explosives could be used to support the bandh on June 25 and potentially target Government of Nepal buildings. It is unknown at this time how effective the bandh will be in Kathmandu. Even if the bandh is not effective within the Kathmandu Valley, it could still be enforced outside of the Valley. The Embassy encourages American citizens to avoid areas of demonstrations, avoid unnecessary visits to government buildings, and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and quickly escalate into violence.
  • “The Embassy is expected to conduct normal operations on June 25.”
  • Peru (Security threat level – 3): On 24 June 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued updated travel advice for Peru, which reads in part as follows: “On 9 June 2019, the Peruvian government declared a 90-day health emergency over an outbreak of Guillain-Barre syndrome in Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, Junin and Lima regions. See the National Travel Health Network and Centre website for further information.”

    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.