Worldview Security Update – September 28, 2020
28-Sep-20

AMERICAS

British Virgin Islands / Peru (Security threat levels – 1 / 3): On 25 September 2020, officials in the British Virgin Islands revised restrictions regarding gathering size limitations following a decline in cases of COVID-19. All public gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people at a time. However, funerals, graduation ceremonies, religious services and wedding ceremonies are permitted to host a maximum of 100 attendees.

In Peru, President Martín Vizcarra announced on 25 September that international flights will resume to and from neighboring countries as of 5 October. Travelers will be required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR-RT test taken no more than 48 hours prior to arrival. International rail and maritime travel will also resume on 5 October.

AUSTRALASIA

Australia / Japan / Myanmar (Security threat levels – 2 / 1 / 4): On 28 September 2020, authorities in the Australian city of Melbourne rescinded the city’s nightly 2100-0500 local time (1200-2000 UTC) curfew following a decline in cases of COVID-19. Residents will be permitted to leave their homes for work, exercise, or to procure essential goods, 24 hours a day. However, individuals must remain confined to within 5 km (3 mi) of their homes and public gatherings of more than five people remain prohibited.

In Japan, on 25 September Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide announced that foreign nationals will be allowed to enter the country for education, sports and medical purposes as of 1 October. However, the government will only issue permits for travelers to stay three months or longer. Business travelers will be permitted to enter Japan with entry permits for less than three months. Furthermore, international arrivals will be limited to 1,000 travelers per day. Those allowed to enter will be subject to a COVID-19 test and a 14-day self-isolation.

In Myanmar, on 25 September authorities announced that they have extended the ongoing ban on international commercial flights through 31 October. The government first imposed the ban on international flights on 30 March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Cargo and repatriation flights are exempt from the order.

EUROPE

Azerbaijan / Armenia (Security threat levels – 3 / 3) : As of 28 September 2020, fighting between the Armenian and Azerbaijani military forces is ongoing in the disputed separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The intense fighting broke out the previous day, prompting the Azerbaijani government to declare countrywide martial law as of 0000 local time on 28 September (2000 UTC on 27 September) and a nightly curfew during 2100-0600 local time in the capital Baku and the following districts: Ganja, Sumgayit, Yevlakh, Mingachevir, Naftalan, Absheron, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Agjabadi, Beylagan, Agdam, Barda, Tartar, Goranboy, Goygol, Dashkasan, Gadabay, Tovuz, Shamkir, Gazakh and Agstafa. Commercial flights scheduled to operate through Baku’s Heydar Aliyev International Airport (UBBB/GYD) have been suspended until at least 30 September. Meanwhile, the Armenian government has declared a countrywide state of emergency; officials in Nagorno-Karabakh have also declared a state of emergency. At least one international airline has suspended flights to Armenia’s Zvartnots International Airport (UDYZ/EVN), which serves the capital Yerevan. Conflicting reports have emerged regarding casualties from the ongoing fighting in the disputed region; officials in Nagorno-Karabakh reported that at least 59 of their soldiers have been killed thus far. The Armenian Defense Ministry stated that as many as 200 people have been wounded, while Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry stated that 26 Azerbaijani civilians have been wounded. The latest round of fighting initially started near the Tavush region in northeastern Armenia — located approximately 300 km (190 mi) north of the Nagorno-Karabakh region — in July. The disputed region has been under the control of ethnic Armenians supported by the Armenian government since the end of a war in 1994, although the area is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 27 September 2020, U.S. officials reportedly informed the Iraqi government that the U.S. will shut down its embassy in the capital Baghdad and relocate personnel to the consulate in Erbil unless the Iraqi government takes more steps to prevent Iran-linked attacks on U.S. personnel and facilities in Baghdad. Iran-linked militant groups routinely conduct rocket attacks targeting the International Zone in Baghdad (where the U.S. Embassy is located) as well as roadside bomb attacks on convoys carrying supplies for U.S. troops.

Analyst Comment: The proposed closure of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad appears be a retaliatory measure for the inaction of the Iraqi government against Iran-linked militias, as there are no indications that the threat to U.S. diplomatic personnel in Baghdad has recently increased. That being said, organizations with assets and personnel in Iraq should monitor the situation closely and U.S. nationals in particular should keep as low a profile as possible.