Worldview Security Update – November 12, 2019
12-Nov-19

AMERICAS

Chile (Security threat level – 2): State workers launched a 24-hour nationwide general strike on the morning of 12 November 2019. Associated demonstrations are ongoing in the capital Santiago and elsewhere in the country and are expected to continue throughout the day. Protesters, including truck drivers, have established a number of burning roadblocks across the country, including on at least two major highways leading to and from Santiago. Although a number of workers at Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCEL/SCL) have participated in the strike, there have been no reports of significant disruptions to airport operations. Businesses and schools in Santiago have largely closed due to the strike and anticipated demonstrations, and officials have restricted public transportation services. 

Isolated clashes broke out in several Chilean cities during the evening of 11 November. In Santiago, police officers clashed with protesters at Plaza Italia and fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. In another incident, police officers entered the Catholic University of San Joaquín campus and fired tear gas at students after clashes broke out between protesters and security forces. Isolated incidents of looting also occurred in Santiago and Valparaíso. Meanwhile, the Valparaíso Metro announced that all operations would be suspended on 12 November due to damage caused by ongoing protests.

United States (Security threat level – 2): As of 12 November 2019, severe winter weather and freezing conditions associated with a cold front are affecting approximately 70% of the United States. More than 240 million residents across the country, especially in the eastern states — as well as in the central and southern states — could be under winter watches, warnings or advisories through 14 November, according to the National Weather Service. Icy conditions have caused severe flight disruptions at airports across the country; as of last report, at least 227 flights to or from U.S. airports have been canceled and approximately 670 others have been delayed so far on 12 November. On the previous day, more than 1,800 flights were canceled countrywide, approximately 1,200 of which were scheduled to operate through Chicago O’Hare International Airport (KORD/ORD). Additionally, American Eagle flight 4125 — operated by Envoy Air — skidded off an icy runway after landing at the Chicago facility on the morning of 11 November. However, there were no injuries and all 38 passengers and three crew members on board safely disembarked the aircraft. The nearby Chicago Midway International Airport (KMDW/MDW) also experienced significant disruptions, with nearly 100 flight cancellations. Further flight delays and cancellations at airports in the Chicago area and elsewhere in the country from Mid-South to parts of the northeastern region are likely, as the cold front brings heavy snowfall to those areas.

On 11 November at least four weather-related fatalities were reported in the Midwest region. At least one motorist was killed after losing control of their vehicle on an icy highway in an area located south of Kansas City; three others were injured in the accident. Meanwhile, three people were killed in a crash near the city of Lansing, Michigan’s state capital. Authorities believe that poor road conditions associated with winter weather likely caused the accidents. 

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, protesters clashed with police officers at several universities in Hong Kong. Police officers fired multiple rounds of tear gas at protesters near the City University of Hong Kong in Kowloon Tong. Protesters set up barricades along the roads surrounding the university before police officers deployed to the area. Separately, police officers fired tear gas at protesters at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Officials eventually positioned security forces at the main entrances of the campus to verify student and staff information. 

Elsewhere, clashes broke out between protesters and police officers at The University of Hong Kong and at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Police officers fired tear gas at protesters near both campuses. At CUHK, police officers fired tear gas at approximately 1930 local time (1130 UTC) and continued to engage in skirmishes with students — who were throwing projectiles and Molotov cocktails — along the Number 2 Bridge which leads to the campus. As of the latest reports, clashes are ongoing at CUHK, while university and police officials attempt to negotiate a de-escalation of violence.

In addition, police officers fired tear gas in Central and on Tai Po Tai Wo Road after protesters gathered on the streets and attempted to enter Mass Transit Railway (MTR) stations. Protesters also vandalized several MTR stations as well as traffic lights. Protesters returned to Central during the evening and blocked traffic along Peddar Street, Des Voeux Road and Connaught Road for approximately one hour before dispersing.

In response to the unrest, MTR officials closed Che Kung Temple, Sha Tin Wai, City One, Heng On, Tseung Kwan O, Hang Hau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Kwai Fong, Sai Wan Ho and Ma On Shan stations early in the day.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 12 November 2019, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least 160 rockets into central and southern Israel following an Israeli operation that killed Baha Abu Al-Atta, a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad Movement of Palestine militant group. Several cities near the Gaza border — including Rishon Lezion, Gedera and Ashdod — sounded warning sirens amid the rocket attacks. In addition to southern Israel, warning sirens were also set off as far north as Tel Aviv. Israeli Defense Forces intercepted approximately 60 missiles. According to reports, at least 29 people were injured. In response to the attacks, schools across Israel are closed and non-essential employees have been ordered to remain inside their homes throughout the country. Authorities also canceled rails services in the border area and closed main roads along the border.  Additionally, the U.S. Embassy Branch Office in Tel Aviv suspended non-essential services and sent non-essential personnel home earlier than usual. The embassy also cautioned U.S. nationals to remain vigilant, and monitor the Israel military Homefront Command website .

Saudi Arabia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, a Yemeni expatriate stabbed three performers during the presentation of a play at King Abdullah Park in the capital Riyadh. Security forces arrested the suspect at the scene; the motive for the attack remains unclear. Although a theater group from the Netherlands was performing the show and unconfirmed reports indicate that the victims — two men and a woman — were foreign nationals, their nationalities are unknown.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Kenya (Security threat level – 4): On 12 November 2019, officials with the privately owned airline Silverstone Air announced that the carrier has suspended all flight operations until further notice effective immediately. The announcement followed an order by the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) issued that same day to ground the airline’s entire fleet of Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft for a one-week period. Silverstone Air had offered daily domestic services across Kenya.

Analyst Comment: The KCAA launched an audit into Silverstone Air following two safety incidents that occurred in October 2019. In the first incident, a Fokker 50 aircraft skidded off the runway during takeoff from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport (HKNW/WIL); at least seven of the 55 individuals on board were injured. Separately, on 28 October, a Bombardier Dash 8-300 aircraft performed an emergency landing at Eldoret International Airport (HKEL/EDL) after reportedly losing a tire shortly after takeoff; there were no reports of injuries among the four passengers and five crew members on board.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Australia (Security threat level – 2): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney issued a Weather Alert that reads in part as follows: “Location: Australia: New South Wales, Queensland

“Event: Local authorities have declared states of emergency across most of Australia’s east coast, urging residents in high risk areas to evacuate in the face of dangerous fire conditions. Expect high winds, high temperatures, and dry conditions, which will raise the risk of wildfires. Total fire bans are in effect in some places.”

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): On 11 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) upgraded its travel advisory for Bolivia to recommend against non-essential travel to the country. The updated travel advisory reads in part as follows: "The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against all but essential travel to Bolivia. If you’re in Bolivia, you should keep your departure options under review.

"If you need urgent consular assistance, contact the British Embassy La Paz on (591 2) 2433424. The British Embassy’s ability to travel to deliver consular services is very limited at this time.

"The political and security situation is very uncertain across Bolivia following the resignation of the President and senior public officials on 10 November, following an extended and ongoing period of wide-scale political demonstrations and civil unrest across the country since disputed elections in October 2019. Many demonstrations have resulted in violence, including in La Paz city centre and other major towns and cities. Further protests are likely to occur at short notice and may turn violent without warning. You should continue to avoid large crowds and public demonstrations, don’t attempt to cross blockades, and pay close attention to developments via local media and this travel advice . "

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Yaoundé

“Event: The Embassy informs U.S. citizens of the potential for demonstrations and unrest related to a reported ban on motorcycle taxis in certain areas within Yaoundé. There is currently a heightened law enforcement presence at roundabouts and other intersections throughout the city.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 12 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Port-Au-Prince issued two Security Alerts regarding ongoing protest action. The first advisory reads in part as follows:

"Location: Boulevard 15 Octobre at multiple points.

"Events: Roadblocks at Torcel, barricades in front of Aristide residence to Carrefour Fleuriot, and rock throwing at Carrefour Fleurio.”

The second advisory counseled travelers to avoid Boulevard 15 Octobre near the Total Gas Station due to “reports of individuals throwing rocks on Boulevard 15 Octobre near Total Gas Station” and “reports of a chain blocking the road in the same area.”