Worldview Security Update – September 4, 2019
4-Sep-19

AMERICAS

Mexico / United States (Security threat levels – 4 / 2): As of 0700 local time (1200 UTC) on 4 September 2019, Tropical Storm Fernand was located approximately 70 km (45 mi) southeast of La Pesca, Mexico, and about 160 km north-northeast of the city of Tampico, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. As of that time, Fernand was moving west at a speed of about 9 kph (6 mph) and had maximum sustained winds of 85 kph with higher gusts. Fernand strengthened to become a tropical storm on 3 September and may gain additional strength before making landfall along the coastal areas of northeastern Mexican states later on 4 September. Fernand is expected to quickly weaken after coming onshore and is likely to dissipate on 5 September.

A Tropical Storm Warning is currently in effect for areas from Puerto Altamira to the entrance of the Rio Grande River. Fernand is expected to produce 150-305 mm (6-12 in) of rain, with isolated maximums of up to 460 mm, in Tamaulipas and in central and southern areas of Nuevo Leon. The heavy rainfall may cause hazardous flash floods and mudslides. Approximately 75-150 mm of rainfall is in the forecast for northern Nuevo Leon and southern Coahuila. Additionally, at least 50-100 mm of rain is expected in southern areas of the U.S. state of Texas, and along the lower Texas coast, with isolated maximums of up to 150 mm. Tornadoes are possible in the far southern areas of Texas through the evening hours of 4 September. 

Entities with interests along the eastern coast of Mexico and the lower coast of Texas state should closely monitor the progression of this storm.

United States / Bahamas (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 0800 local time (1200 UTC) on 4 September 2019, Hurricane Dorian was located approximately 95 mi (155 km) east of Daytona Beach, Florida, and about 135 mi east-southeast of the city of Jacksonville, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. As of that time, the hurricane was moving north-northwest at a speed of 8 mph (13 kph) and had maximum sustained winds of 105 mph with higher gusts. On the current forecast track, the center of the hurricane will move very close to the coastal areas of Florida and Georgia through the night of 4 September before moving near or over the coast of North and South Carolina between 5 September and the morning of 6 September.

Meanwhile, in northwestern Bahamas — where Dorian came to a virtual standstill on 2-3 September — rescue and relief efforts are underway. Infrastructure on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama has been largely destroyed and floodwaters on those islands are impeding the relief efforts. Thus far, at least seven people have been reported killed; however, authorities expect the death toll to increase notably. Freeport’s Grand Bahama international Airport (MYGF/FPO) and Leonard M. Thompson International Airport (MYAM/MHH) — located in Abaco Islands’ Marsh Harbour — remain closed due to flood-related damage. Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN/NAS) is open for commercial operations; however, airport authorities are urging passengers to contact their airlines regarding the status of their flights.

In the U.S., Florida’s Fort Lauderdale International Airport (KFLL/FLL) resumed flight operations at 1200 local time (1600 UTC) on 3 September and Orlando International Airport (KMCO/MCO) plans to resume operations at 1200 local time on 4 September. In South Carolina, Charleston International Airport (KCHS/CHS) plans to cease operations beginning at 1500 local time on 4 September, with anticipated resumption on the morning of 6 September. As of last report, more than 2 million people in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina have been warned to evacuate their homes ahead of the hurricane’s approach.

At present, a Hurricane Warning remains in effect from the border of Brevard andVolusia counties to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, and in areas north of Georgia’s Savannah River to Surf City, North Carolina. Meanwhile, a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Sebastian Inlet, Florida, to the border of Brevard and Volusia counties as well as in areas north of Ponte Vedra Beach to the Savannah River. A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Sebastian Inlet to Surf City. A Hurricane Watch is in effect north of Ponte Vedra Beach to the Savannah River; north of Surf City to the border of North Carolina and Virginia states; and in North Carolina’s Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds. A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect from the North Carolina and Virginia border-line to Chincoteague and in areas south of  Smith Point to Chesapeake Bay.A Storm Surge Watch is in effect for areas north of Surf City to Poquoson, Virginia; Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds; and the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers.

Storm surges of up to 5-8 ft (1.5-2.5 meters) are possible from the Isle of Palms to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and approximately 4-7 ft from the Savannah River to the Isle of Palms and Myrtle Beach to Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Storm surges of up to 4-6 ft are possible from Cape Lookout to Duck, including the Albemarle and Pamlico Sounds as well as the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. Storm surges are possible from the border of Brevard andVolusia countiesto the Savannah River (3-5 ft), Sebastian Inlet to the Brevard/Volusia county line (2-4 ft) and Duck to Poquoson (2-4 ft). Dorian is forecast to produce 5-10 inches (125-250 mm) of rain over the coastal areas of North and South Carolina and 3-6 inches of rain in southeastern Virginia.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On the evening of 4 September 2019, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced that she would formally withdraw a controversial extradition bill when the Legislative Council resumes in October. Lam first made the announcement in an internal meeting with pro-Beijing lawmakers and Hong Kong delegates of China’s National People’s Congress and later in a televised address to the general populace. In response to other demands of the ongoing protest movement, Lam stated that the government would support the work of the Independent Police Complaints Council (IPCC) in investigating allegations of excessive use of force by the police against protesters, and would act on any of the IPCC’s recommendations. However, Lam refused to withdraw the government’s classification of the protests as “riots” and does not plan to push for the release of demonstrators arrested during the protests, claiming it would infringe on the sovereignty of the Department of Justice. Lam also pledged to open dialogue with larger segments of society to address social and economic concerns such as housing and income distribution.

Protests over the controversial extradition bill — which would have allowed crime suspects to face trial in mainland China — began in April, but became relatively more frequent and violent in June and broadened into a larger anti-government movement.. The complete withdrawal of the bill has been one of five core demands of the protesters who are also demanding the independent investigations into alleged police brutality, the release of demonstrators arrested at protests, retracting characterization of the protests as riots and universal suffrage in Hong Kong. In response to the announcements, pro-democracy lawmakers, activists and protest organizers largely stated that anti-government protests will continue until authorities fulfill the remaining four demands.

Analyst comment: While the decision to withdraw the bill is a positive step in an effort to curb the ongoing unrest, it is unlikely to fully resolve the situation. Demonstrations are likely to continue for the foreseeable future, but it remains unknown if the decision to withdraw the bill will significantly reduce the intensity of the protests. Following the high-profile instances of alleged police violence toward protesters, the anti-government movement will likely now focus its efforts on gaining concessions toward accountability of police officers involved in repressing the protests.

Taiwan / Japan / South Korea / North Korea / China (Security threat levels – 2 / 1 / 2 / 3 / 3): Tropical Storm Lingling strengthened to become a typhoon on 4 September 2019. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 0900 UTC, Lingling was located approximately 525 km (325 mi) south-southwest of Japan’s Kadena Air Base and was moving east-northeastward at 11 kph (7 mph). At that point, the typhoon had maximum sustained winds of 139 kph with gusts of up to 167 kph. Lingling is currently forecast to continue on its northern track, and make landfall in North Korea’s South Hwanghae province, which partially borders South Korea, by 7 September. The storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall and strong winds to parts of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, the eastern portion of Taiwan and parts of eastern China, including Shanghai. Rainfall between 75-150 mm (3-6 in), with isolated maximums of 300 mm, is in the forecast for the affected areas, especially over the Korean Peninsula.

Vietnam / China (Security threat levels – 3 / 3): According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), as of 2100 UTC on 3 September 2019, Tropical Depression Kajiki was located approximately 145 km (90 mi) northwest of Da Nang, Vietnam, and was moving northward at 13 kph (8 mph). At that time, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 46 kph with gusts of up to 65 kph. Kajiki is producing heavy rains in China’s Hainan Island and additional rainfall is in the forecast for the island until 6 September. On 3 September local authorities halted ferry services in the Qiongzhou strait, which separates the island from neighboring Guangdong province, and high-speed train services on Hainan. Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities maintain warnings of additional heavy rainfall in coastal areas from Nghe An province to Quang Ngai province and in the Central Highlands region through 5 September. The heavy rainfall could cause hazardous flash floods and mudslides in those areas.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa / Zambia / Nigeria (Security threat levels – 4 / 3 / 5): As of 4 September 2019, unrest in South Africa’s Gauteng province has reportedly quelled following several days of violence and riots across Gauteng, including in various areas of Johannesburg and Pretoria since 1 September. Sporadic clashes occurred throughout the day on 3 September in several townships in Gauteng province, as well as in the central business districts (CBD) of Johannesburg and Pretoria. Police officers deployed tear gas at protesters, some of whom were reportedly armed with axes and machetes. Protesters were also engaged in widespread looting and vandalism targeting foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg’s CBD. Police officers have arrested more than 180 people involved in riots in Gauteng province thus far. Additionally, at least five people have been killed in related violence that occurred in Johannesburg’s Corronationville, Jeppestown and Hillbrow townships on 1-3 September. A significant number of security personnel have deployed throughout the province, including in Johannesburg and Pretoria, in response to the protests, which were initially triggered by the killing of a taxi driver — allegedly by foreign nationals involved in drug-related activity — in Pretoria on 27 August.

Meanwhile, the recent xenophobic violence has prompted protests and episodes of violence in several cities across Nigeria. A number of South African-owned businesses in Nigeria are closed — including all Nigerian locations of Shoprite Supermarket, as well as offices of MTN, a South African telecommunications provider — following violence targeting these businesses. In the capital Abuja, protesters reportedly attempted to storm the Shoprite Abuja Gateway location and blocked portions of Airport Road. Violence was also reported on the previous night at Shoprite locations in Ibadan, Oyo state, and in Lekki, Lagos state. In Lagos state, police officers reportedly shot and killed at least one person during a protest at a Shoprite in Lekki off the Lekki-Epe Expressway.

Additionally, related protests are also ongoing in the Zambian capital Lusaka on 4 September. A number of South-African owned commercial establishments in the city are closed. Meanwhile, police officers fired tear gas toward protesters and warning shots into the air in an attempt to disperse protesters who had gathered in Lusaka during the morning. Incidents of looting targeting South African businesses were also reported during the protest.There were no reports of injuries during the unrest. The U.S. Embassy in Lusaka has issued a Demonstration Alert, which details areas where the demonstrations are ongoing. Please see the Government Warnings section below.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Zambia (Security threat level – 3): On 4 September 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Lusaka issued a Demonstration Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Areas include, but are not limited to, Kabulonga, Woodlands, Crossroads, Manda Hill, Long Acres, Lusaka

“Event: Demonstrations are ongoing in several areas of Lusaka in response to recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Thousands of youth are protesting and the Embassy has received reports of looting, particularly targeting South African chain stores. Protesters do not have permission to protest and we anticipate a heavy police presence and response, including lethal and non-lethal means. We have received reports of police firing warning shots into the air and using tear gas on protesters.”