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Worldview Security Update – October 10, 2019
10-Oct-19

AMERICAS

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 10 October 2019, the president of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) stated that demonstrations by indigenous groups will continue indefinitely in Quito until the Ecuadorian government repeals a decree that eliminated fuel subsidies. Meanwhile, President Lenín Moreno stated that he will attempt to resume dialogue with indigenous groups to end the protests and claimed that he was optimistic that a resolution would be reached “very soon.”

On the previous day, thousands of demonstrators held rallies and marches across Ecuador to protest against the government’s elimination of fuel subsidies. Clashes occurred in downtown Quito as thousands of indigenous people and labor union members marched toward the government’s headquarters in Carondelet Palace. Police officers closed off the streets surrounding the palace and deployed tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, who threw stones at police officers. Meanwhile, in Guayaquil, thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters demonstrated downtown; security personnel kept the two groups separated and there were no reports of clashes between them. In addition, police officers deployed tear gas to disperse hundreds members of the Unity Front of Workers (FUT) union who were protesting on Blvd. 9 de Octubre. Ecuador’s interior minister has stated that many of Ecuador’s main roads remain closed due to protests.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 9 October 2019, opposition leaders called for a national day of mobilization on 11 October to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse. Demonstrators plan to gather at Place Saint-Pierre in the Petion-Ville area of Port-au-Prince and march south to the president’s residence in Pélerin 5. Major disruptions to daily activities and clashes with security officials are probable throughout Port-au-Prince.

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): During the evening on 9 October 2019, police officers clashed with protesters demanding the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez at the central park in Tegucigalpa. Police officers deployed tear gas to disperse the protesters, several of whom threw stones at the officers. Approximately 1,000 protesters participated in the demonstration, which occurred several hours after the conclusion of a pro-Hernandez rally; at least 6,000 demonstrators participated in the earlier event. There were no reports of arrests or injuries.

The demonstrations follow the recent testimony of a former Honduran mayor and drug trafficker in a United States court. In his testimony, the mayor claimed that Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán gave President Hernández’s brother 24,251,300 Honduran lempiras (1 million U.S. dollars) to finance Hernandez’s presidential campaign in 2013.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 10 October 2019, a vast planned power outage entered its second day in various counties of the north and central regions of California state. The second wave of outages planned for 10 October will affect the counties of Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Tuolumne and Calaveras, but may also affect the counties of Mendocino, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, San Mateo, Mariposa, Contra Costa, Alpine and Alameda. A potential third wave of outages would affect the counties of Santa Barbara and Kern, if deemed necessary. The first wave of outages on 9 October affected around 513,000 customers in 22 counties beginning in the early morning.

The utility company behind the outage, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), stated that the decision to turn off power was due to the potential risk of fire brought on by forecasts of windy, hot and dry weather. In total, the outage is expected to affect approximately 800,000 customers in 34 counties, 274,000 of which are located in the Bay area, and last until weather conditions improve, which is projected to occur on the afternoon of 10 October. The outage is the largest shutoff in California’s history.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): Multiple demonstrations are planned in Hong Kong between 10 and 14 October 2019. During the evening of 10 October demonstrators gathered outside the Tsim Sha Tsui police station to protest in support of a demonstrator who suffered an eye injury as a result of protest violence on 11 August. Additionally, Mass Transit Railway (MTR) officials suspended all operations at 2100 local time (1300 UTC) in order to conduct repairs and avoid unrest. MTR operations have closed early since 7 October, and are expected to continue to close early throughout the weekend.

Between 2000 and 2100 local time on 12 October demonstrators plan to protest at the New Town Plaza shopping mall in Sha Tin. On 13 October a rally to thank international supporters of the protests is scheduled to begin at 1900 local time at Victoria Park and Edinburgh Place. On 14 October protests are planned for Edinburgh Place in Central and Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to thank healthcare workers for assisting demonstrators injured in the ongoing protests. Expected turnouts for the aforementioned demonstrations remains unknown. Whether organizers applied for Letters of No Objection from authorities also remains unknown. Additionally, spontaneous protests are expected to continue as well.
In a related development, the Hong Kong Police Force announced that under a recent ban on facial covering that went into effect on 5 October, police officers have the authority to remove masks of journalists or medical patients during protests if they suspect the individuals are attempting to obscure their identities. 

Japan (Security threat level – 1): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as of 0900 UTC on 10 October 2019, Super Typhoon Hagibis was located approximately 1,210 km (755 mi) north-northwest of Yokosuka, Japan, and was moving north-northwest at 24 kph (15 mph). At that time, Hagibis was generating maximum sustained winds of 259 kph with gusts of up to 314 kph. On its current track, Hagibis is forecast to make landfall near Tokyo by 12 October. The storm is projected to produce heavy rainfall on 11 October and high waves and tides on 12 October. Extreme waves have the potential to cause deadly flooding.

EUROPE

Russia (Security threat level – 3): On 10 October 2019, officials suspended operations at Yekaterinburg’s Koltsovo International Airport (USSS/SVX) after an An-12 military aircraft experienced landing gear failure and conducted an emergency belly landing. Emergency crews reportedly removed the aircraft from the runway at approximately 1600 local time (1100 UTC); however, continued delays are expected. There were no reports of injuries resulting from the incident.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 3): On 10 October 2019, Extinction Rebellion climate activists began the first day of demonstrations at London City Airport (EGLC/LCY). Hundreds of protesters arrived at the airport as part of a three-day protest intended to shut down the airport. At least one flight was forced to return to the terminal after a protester boarded the aircraft and caused a disruption. The protesters have also attempted to block the airport’s access road and the Dockland’s Light Railway (DLR) station. While no other significant disruptions have been reported, airport officials have warned travelers to monitor the status of their flights before travelling to the airport. In addition, airport authorities have implemented boarding pass checks at the entrance to prevent protesters from entering the facility.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Syria / Turkey (Security threat levels – 5 / 4): On 10 October 2019, Turkish military forces continued operation "Peace Spring" in areas of northeastern Syria along the Syrian-Turkish border. Reports indicate that the Turkish military has been primarily targeting Kurdish forces in the northern cities of Ras al-Ayn — located in the al-Hasakah governorate — and Tal Abyad — located in the Raqqa governorate — and that the second day of airstrikes has resulted in further civilian casualties. An exact casualty count is currently unavailable, however, as military activities are ongoing. As a result of the military operation and associated periodic airstrikes, the Turkish government announced on the previous day that the country would be closing its airspace along the Turkish-Syrian border indefinitely.

On October 9 — the first day of the operation — Turkish forces struck at least 181 targets in northeastern Syria. The Turkish military launched air and artillery strikes on several border towns, including Tal Abyad and Kobani; the first day of strikes killed at least 10 people and injured dozens more, including civilians. Turkish forces also launched a raid on the city of Ras al-Ayn and captured the villages of Tabatin and Mesrefe. Unconfirmed reports also indicate that Turkish airstrikes may have struck the al-Chirkin prison — which currently holds a number of Islamic State (IS) prisoners — in northeastern Syria. Turkey’s Defense Ministry announced that the military had seized “designated targets” in northeastern Syria, although officials did not specify what those designated targets were.

Meanwhile, reports from officials with the heretofore U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) — which the Turkish government accuses of being affiliated with the Kurdish militant Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) — indicate that the fighting has displaced approximately 60,000 civilians. Several foreign governments have released statements condemning the Turkish operation, including France, Germany, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Egypt and Lebanon.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Burkina Faso (Security threat level – 4): On 9 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a Labor Strike Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Ouagadougou International Airport

“U.S. Embassy Ouagadougou informs all American citizens of a potential airport labor strike at the Ouagadougou International Airport from midnight on Oct 11 to midnight on Oct 12. We have been notified that some of the airlines have preemptively canceled their flights. Other airlines may also choose to cancel their flights. If you have flight plans, we encourage you to contact the airline directly.

“U.S. Embassy staff will monitor the situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.”

Ecuador (Security threat level – 3): On 9 October 2019, the U.S. Department of State issued an updated Travel Advisory for Ecuador, which reads in part as follows:

"Exercise increased caution in Ecuador due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

"Demonstrations and road blockades continue throughout the country and are expected to continue in the coming weeks. There are reports of associated pockets of violence. Police have responded with tear gas. Travel, including flights, may be seriously disrupted. 

"The U.S. Embassy has restricted its personnel from traveling within and between cities and provinces until further notice, except for travel to the Galapagos Islands and domestic airline connections that are part of an international itinerary. This includes both travel by air and road. For Embassy Quito personnel, travel is restricted to within the greater Quito metropolitan area. For U.S. Consulate General Guayaquil personnel, travel is restricted to within the city of Guayaquil.

"Do not travel to:

  • Azuay, Bolívar, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Guayas (including Guayaquil), Imbabura, Loja, Los Ríos, Manabí, Pichincha (including Quito), and Tungurahua provinces due to civil unrest.
  • Within and between cities and provinces due to civil unrest.
  • Carchi, Sucumbíos, and the northern part of Esmeraldas provinces, including Esmeraldas city, due to crime.”

The full text of the advisory can be read here

Finland (Security threat level – 2): On 10 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Helsinki, Finland

“Event: The Embassy is aware of a demonstration planned for 4:00 p.m. this afternoon in the vicinity of the Parliament House in Helsinki, Finland. The U.S. Embassy has advised its personnel to avoid the demonstration area and exercise caution if near a large public gathering or protest.”

Honduras (Security threat level – 4): On 9 October 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa issued a Demonstration Alert regarding the nationwide taxi strike, which reads in part as follows:

"Location: Honduras, countrywide

"Event: Strikes are expected to take place on October 10, 2019 beginning at 6:00 am.

"The U.S. Embassy has received information that the Taxi Cab Driver Association of Honduras is calling for a countrywide strike tomorrow, starting at 6:00 am. Negotiations between the taxi association and the Honduran Government are still ongoing. If no agreement is reached tonight, the taxi drivers may block major roads and intersections in the major cities of the country, as they’ve done in the past. This would cause serious traffic issues throughout the major cities in the country, to include Tegucigalpa. Stay tuned to local media for updates to this developing situation."

Turkey (Security threat level – 4): On 9 October 2019, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs issued updated travel advice for Turkey regarding an ongoing Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria. The notice states that on 9 October the Turkish military launched an operation in northeastern Syria, with much of the activity occurring along the border near the Turkish city of Sanliurfa. The advisory notes that the operation involves troop movements through regions in southeastern Turkey, and advises travelers to avoid areas south of Sanliurfa and Mardin due to the operation.

United States (Security threat level – 2): On 10 October 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for the United States, which reads in part as follows: "The National Weather Service have said strong and damaging winds coupled with relatively low humidity have created the potential of rapid spread of fire in California. Local power companies have begun cutting power to 800,000 homes, businesses and other locations in Northern California, in an attempt to prevent wildfires. If you are in this area you should check for updates on the National Weather Service website and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities."

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