Worldview Security Update – September 9, 2019
9-Sep-19

AMERICAS

Bahamas (Security threat level – 2): On 8 September 2019, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) to prevent unauthorized U.S. aircraft from entering Bahamian airspace. Sanctioned humanitarian and search and rescue flights are still authorized to operate in Bahamian airspace. The Bahamian government requested the restriction in order to ensure adequate airspace for humanitarian assistance and search and rescue flights over areas of the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian. It is currently unknown how long the restriction will remain in effect.

Meanwhile, recovery efforts on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama remain underway as of 9 September. Power and telecommunications outages continue to be widespread on both islands. Food, fuel and other essential items also remain in short supply on both islands. Approximately 70,000 people on the islands have lost their homes and are in need of shelter and other basic supplies. Authorities put the latest death count at 45 fatalities; however, the death toll is expected to rise notably in the coming days, as hundreds of people have been reported missing. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the affected islands as search and rescue operations continue.

Canada / United States (Security threat levels – 2 / 2): As of 9 September 2019, emergency crews are conducting recovery efforts in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia after Hurricane Dorian struck near Halifax, the provincial capital, with winds of 160 kph (100 mph) on 7 September. Dorian, which has since weakened into a post-tropical storm, caused flooding and damage along its path in the maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador before moving over the waters off Labrador Sea overnight on 7-8 September. In Halifax, the storm uprooted trees and caused damage to infrastructure; however, there were no reports of casualties in the city or elsewhere in the region. Authorities have deployed armed forces to carry out recovery efforts; as of last report, emergency crews were working to restore electricity to more than 200,000 homes and businesses in the region.

Meanwhile, in the United States, recovery efforts remain underway in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, specifically on Ocracoke Island. The storm caused significant damage to infrastructure on the island, which experienced the worst effects of Dorian in the country.

ASIA

China (Security threat level – 3): On 8 September 2019, an estimated 10,000 people participated in an authorized anti-government march from Chater Garden to the U.S. Consulate building, located in Hong Kong’s Central district. The protesters marched to the consulate along Lower Albert and Garden roads to lobby U.S. officials to pass legislation supporting the protesters and their five demands, known as the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act. The majority of participants dispersed shortly after 1830 local time (1030 UTC); however, clashes occurred in several areas of the city, as smaller numbers of anti-government protesters continued to assemble later in the evening hours. In Central, protesters set fires, smashed windows and vandalized the Central MTR station. Protesters then fled toward Causeway Bay, where police officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters who had gathered near Exit D2 of the Causeway Bay MTR station. At least 10 protesters were hospitalized with injuries during the clashes, which prompted officials to suspend all Mass Transit Railway (MTR) services to Central, Prince Edward, Mong Kok and Wan Chai stations. A significant number of riot police officers were deployed to these areas through the evening hours on 8 September. MTR services appeared to be operating normally on 9 September.

On 7 September protesters and riot police officers clashed near the Prince Edward MTR station in Mong Kok. Protesters gathered outside Mong Kok police station, jeered at the officers and set fire to debris. Riot police deployed pepper spray to disperse the crowd, and there were intermittent confrontations along nearby Nathan Road. The MTR closed the Prince Edward MTR station due to a “public event,” as well as Mong Kok station due to the presence of protesters. On the same day, a number of demonstrators also gathered at Tung Chung MTR station, and the MTR reduced services to 15-minute intervals as a result. At approximately 1650 local time (0850 UTC), riot police at Tung Chung advanced on Fu Tung Plaza footbridge to disperse protesters. Minor altercations between police officers and protesters occurred at the site. Protesters also gathered at Telford Mall in Kowloon Bay, but no clashes were reported at the mall.

Meanwhile, on the morning of 7 September protesters staged another “stress test” at Hong Kong International Airport (VHHH/HKG). The protest action garnered little support and did not result in notable disruptions. The MTR shut down Airport Express stops except for direct services from Hong Kong station to the airport in preparation for the protest. The free shuttle bus from Kowloon station to the airport suspended services as well. Authorities also established checkpoints at bus stops en route to the airport and checked passenger IDs in an effort to prevent protesters from traveling to the airport. In addition, riot police deployed to the airport in anticipation of the protest. Police officers also patrolled several routes to Lantau Island — including the Central ferry pier — in an attempt to prevent demonstrators from traveling to the airport. Meanwhile, airport authorities announced that the injunction against unauthorized demonstrations remains in effect, and that loitering at the facility is prohibited.

Japan (Security threat level – 1): In the early hours of 9 September 2019, Typhoon Faxai made landfall in Chiba prefecture, located approximately 60 km (35 mi) southeast of Tokyo. Faxai, which brought heavy rainfall and winds of up to 207 kph (128 mph), caused significant transportation disruptions in Tokyo. East Japan Railway Co. suspended all rail services in Tokyo prior to the storm’s arrival. Services resumed in the afternoon after Faxai departed, but delays continued throughout the day. Additionally, Shinkansen bullet train services were temporarily suspended, but resumed at 0740 local time (2240 UTC on 8 September) with continued delays. Approximately 160 flights scheduled to operate through airports in the Tokyo area were canceled. Although inbound flights continued to operate to Narita International Airport (RJAA/NRT), rail and bus services from and to the airport experienced significant delays. Arrival and departure flights at Haneda Airport (RJTT/HND) were suspended during the evening of 8 September, but resumed by the morning of 9 September. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center’s most recent update, as of 0900 UTC on 9 September, Faxai was located approximately 335 km northeast of Yokosuka in the Pacific Ocean, and was moving northeast at 30 kph. Faxai is currently expected to continue moving farther into the ocean where it will eventually dissipate.

EUROPE

France (Security threat level – 3): On 7 September 2019, “yellow vest” protests took place in several cities across France, including Bordeaux, Montpellier, Rouen and Paris. The largest gathering occurred in Montpellier, where approximately 2,000 protesters gathered near the Place de la Comédie and clashed with police officers. Protesters reportedly vandalized storefronts, threw projectiles and set fire to an unoccupied police vehicle. There were no reports of injuries. Clashes also occurred at a smaller protest in the city of Rouen, during which police officers arrested at least 26 participants. Meanwhile, approximately 800 protesters gathered in Paris; although the gathering was largely peaceful, police officers arrested at least 85 people who attempted to congregate near the Champs-Élysées. Related “yellow vest” protests with smaller participant turnout also took place in the cities of Dijon, Lille, Strasbourg and Toulouse.

United Kingdom (Security threat level – 2): Beginning at 0000 UTC on 9 September 2019, pilots for British Airways launched a 48-hour general strike over pay disputes. More than 1,500 scheduled British Airways flights have been canceled through 10 September, affecting at least 280,000 passengers. At least 50 flights were canceled on 8 September in anticipation of the strike. Affected passengers may request a full refund for canceled flights, reschedule flights to a later date or rebook with an alternative airline; British Airways has advised passengers not to travel to airports unless they have made alternative travel arrangements. Severe delays and disruptions are expected at British Airways hubs, including London Heathrow Airport (EGLL/LHR) and Gatwick Airport (EGKK/LGW), through the week of 9 September. An additional strike is planned for 27 September if British Airways and pilots’ unions fail to reach an agreement on pay increases.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 7 September 2019, Islamic State (IS) militants detonated improvised explosive devices in commercial areas of central, east, south and west Baghdad. The attacks occurred in the Sadr City, al-Talabiya, al-Shurta, al-Rabiya and Bab al-Sheikh neighborhoods, and injured a total of 14 people.

Analyst Comment: The latest attacks demonstrate that IS militants continue to pose a threat in Baghdad. While the frequency of attacks in the city has decreased — particularly since the recapture of Mosul from IS in 2017 — IS remains capable of conducting coordinated attacks in Baghdad, as evidenced by these latest bombings.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

South Africa (Security threat level – 4): On 9 September 2019, no significant episodes of violence have occurred following unrest in the cities of Johannesburg and Cape Town the previous day. In Johannesburg, dozens of protesters marched along Jules Street, from Malvern and Jeppestown townships toward the central business district (CBD), on 8 September. Police officers deployed tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse rioters in these areas, some of whom were armed with sticks, small knives and other crude weapons. There were also reports of vandalism targeting businesses and parked vehicles in the area. At least two people were killed and five others were injured during the violence. Police officers arrested at least 16 people involved in the riots and stated that the situation had been contained by the evening hours.

Meanwhile, during the early morning hours of 8 September, violent protests occurred in southeast Cape Town’s Samora Machel neighborhood, located within Philippi township. Protesters reportedly vandalized properties and looted several businesses in the area. At least two people were killed in the violence; however, further details regarding these deaths remain unclear. Security forces from Operation Lockdown — an ongoing police operation that provides security in Cape Town’s townships — deployed to the scene. Security officers arrested more than 30 people in connection with the unrest. It is unclear at this time whether the rioters were specifically targeting migrants and migrant-owned businesses, following xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg and Pretoria the previous week.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

Afghanistan (Security threat level – 5): On 8 September 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Kabul, Afghanistan

“Event: Massoud Day and the Ashura religious holiday will occur on September 9, 2019. An increase in Afghan Security Forces in Kabul and other major cities is expected. Large celebratory crowds may gather at Massoud Circle, adjacent to the U.S. Embassy, on Massoud Day. Celebratory gunfire is likely in major cities. Historically, groups of vehicles travel across Kabul City discharging small arms fire throughout the day. Large gatherings and vehicle convoys present an elevated risk of attacks. For the religious holiday of Ashura, expect celebrations and rituals to begin on the afternoon of September 9, 2019 and last throughout September 10. Attacks directed against the Shia community, primarily at mosques, religious shrines, and large gatherings have occurred in the past.

“The U.S. Embassy in Kabul will be closed on Monday, September 9, 2019 in observance of Massoud Day and the Ashura religious holiday.”

Yemen / Saudi Arabia / Djibouti / Eritrea (Security threat levels – 5 / 3 / 3 / 3): On 6 September 2019, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) issued a Maritime Alert, which states a report of a maritime threat in the Red Sea near the coast of Yemen. The nature of the warning notes the potential for increased hostilities that may threaten maritime security and it applies to all ships transiting the area. The full text of the advisory can be read here .