Worldview Security Update – May 31, 2019
31-May-19

AMERICAS

Honduras (Security threat level – 4) : As of 31 May 2019, the second day of a 48-hour countrywide general strike organized by teachers and healthcare workers is ongoing in Honduras. Protests and gatherings are expected to accompany the strike for a second consecutive day; daily routine activities, including transportation services, are likely to be significantly disrupted, particularly in the capital Tegucigalpa. The latest reports indicate that protesters are blocking the highway that connects the northern city of San Pedro Sula to Villanueva, Cortés. Additional roadblocks and clashes between protesters and police officers are possible in the capital and elsewhere in the country throughout the day.
During the first day of the labor action on 30 May, police officers clashed with protesters who were blocking major thoroughfares in Tegucigalpa. Police officers also deployed tear gas canisters to disperse protesters outside the terminal at Toncontin International Airport (MHTG/TGU). The clashes outside the airport terminal forced the temporary suspension of flight operations after officials evacuated airport employees and travelers to the tarmac. At least 25 people were injured during the protests. The national strike is being organized to protest the government decrees that allegedly privatize healthcare and the education system in the country.

ASIA

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 31 May 2019, a suicide car bomb struck a U.S. military convoy in Kabul’s eastern Yakatot neighborhood. At least four Afghan civilians were killed and four U.S. military members were injured in the bombing. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

South Korea (Security threat level – 2): On 1 June 2019, tens of thousands of demonstrators are expected to join the annual Pride parade in central Seoul. A counterdemonstration will be held at Seoul Plaza. A large police presence is also expected to maintain order.

Analyst Comment: The event is expected to remain peaceful. However, violence has occurred at past Pride events in other cities. As a precaution, travelers in the area should avoid any large gatherings.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): As of 31 May 2019, “yellow vest” demonstrations are expected to occur nationwide on 1 June for the 29th consecutive weekend. Protest organizers have called on supporters to gather in Lyon and Paris. Turnout is expected to be lower than the 15,500 people who attended the previous weekend’s demonstrations. French authorities have announced continued bans on demonstrations on Paris’ Champs-Elysées, at Place de l’Etoile and near the Élysée Palace, the National Assembly and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Officials have also banned protests in other parts of France, including in the city centers of Caen, Épinal, Le Puy-en-Velay, Lyon and Rouen.
Despite the bans, protests are likely to occur in the aforementioned cities. Demonstrations have currently been announced in Dunkirk, Épinal, Lyon and Toulouse, but protests are also expected to take place on roundabouts and roads countrywide. In Paris, demonstrators intend to march from the Place Denfert-Rochereau in the 14th arrondissement to the Place de la Nation between the 11th and 12th arrondissements.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 30 May 2019, unidentified militants detonated six improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in downtown Kirkuk city, located approximately 300 km (200 mi) north of the capital Baghdad. The attacks occurred along Quds Street near the Peace Mall, killing three people and injuring 20 others. Security forces defused two other devices that they discovered near the site of the explosions.

Analyst Comment: While no group has claimed responsibility for the bombings, they are consistent with similar attacks by the Islamic State (IS). The attacks occurred following Iftar, when markets and central areas are usually crowded, likely in an effort to inflict a high number of casualties.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Albania (Security threat level – 3): On 31 May 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tirana issued a Demonstration Alert regarding anti-government demonstrations planned on 2 June, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Gathering points include, but are not limited to, the following areas in Albania:
  • Parliament Building (Tirana)
  • Prime Minister’s Office (Tirana)
  • Other government buildings (Tirana)
  • “Event: A large demonstration is expected to take place near the Prime Minister’s Office on June 2, 2019, beginning around 7:00 p.m. The group intends to demonstrate against the Albanian government and may move to different locations in Tirana. The duration of the expected demonstration is unknown. Recent demonstrations have included violence. Security forces have used water cannons and tear gas to disperse crowds.
  • “U.S. Embassy personnel and family members have been directed to avoid all gathering points and locations where demonstrations are imminent or ongoing.”

    Eritrea (Security threat level – 3): On 31 May 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Eritrea, which reads in part as follows:

  • “The FCO advise against all travel within 25km of Eritrea’s border with Ethiopia, with the exception of the town of Senafe, the border crossings at Debay Sima – Burre, Serha – Zalambessa and Kesadika (Adi Kuala) – Rama, plus the main paved roads leading to those crossings. All border crossings between Ethiopia and Eritrea are currently closed – travellers should check local advice before proceeding to the border. A further crossing at Omhager ER – Humera ETH was opened on 7 January, but is now also closed.”
  • Malawi (Security threat level – 3): On 30 May 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Malawi
  • “Event: In the days since Malawi’s May 21 national elections, the U.S. Embassy has seen a rise in reporting of security-related incidents. While the vast majority of protests, demonstrations, and marches have been peaceful, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of opportunistic criminal actors using the large crowds to rob personnel and vehicles. In addition, there have been incidents of direct confrontation between police and crowds. Most recently, clashes between the Malawi Congress Party and Malawi Police Service during the afternoon of May 28 resulted in the use of tear gas that disrupted U.S. Embassy operations.
  • “On May 31 at 1000 hours, Malawi will inaugurate the newly-elected President in Blantyre. While the Malawi Police are unaware of any planned demonstrations in or around Lilongwe at this time, recent events indicate a high potential for such incidents to occur.
  • “The U.S. Embassy will be open during normal operating hours tomorrow.”
  • Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 31 May 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

  • “Location: Yekaterinburg, Russia – in front of U.S. Consulate, Yekaterinburg, Gogolya 15A
  • “Event: Over the past week, several individuals have been demonstrating against the U.S. Consulate General on the public sidewalk in front of the Consulate’s entrance. The Russian police remain committed to controlling the situation and continually monitor each demonstration.”
  • 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.