Worldview Weekly Security Update – 18 November – 21 November 2019
22-Nov-19
Monday 18 November 2019:

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): As of early on 18 November 2019, demonstrations in support of former President Evo Morales are ongoing in Bolivia. The latest reports indicate that demonstrators associated with the Council of Peasant Federations of the Yungas of La Paz (Cofecay) have gathered in the city of El Alto and plan to march to government headquarters in the nearby city of La Paz. Some coca-growing unions — which strongly support Morales — have called on interim President Jeanine Áñez to step down from office by late on 18 November. Protesters have blocked a number of major highways, which has disrupted transportation and led to shortages of basic goods, such as food and fuel, in La Paz and other urban centers in the country. Demonstrators continue to block roads near the state-owned Senkata gas plant in the city of El Alto, while supporters of former President Evo Morales have installed roadblocks at three points along the Santa Cruz-Trinidad highway in the municipality of Ascención de Guarayos in northeastern Bolivia. Due to the shortage of basic essentials, there were long queues of locals attempting to stockpile supplies outside grocery stores and gas stations in La Paz on 17 November. The likelihood of violence during demonstrations is currently very high.

Anti-government protest actions demanding the resignation of Áñez continued over the weekend of 16-17 November. In a notable incident on 16 November, hundreds of supporters of former President Morales blocked the entrance to the Senkata terminal, which supplies fuel to La Paz. Police officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. In Cochabamba, pro-Morales demonstrators ruptured the Carrasco Cochabamba (GCC) pipeline, disrupting fuel supplies to Cochabamba; repairs are underway and will take approximately seven days to be completed.

Additionally, on 15 November, security forces opened fire on coca growers along the Huayllani Bridge in the town of Sacaba, located near Cochabamba, after protesters attempted to cross a military checkpoint and enter the city. At least nine people were killed and 100 others were injured during the violence. Authorities announced that earlier in the day, police officers seized firearms, explosives and improvised bazookas from demonstrators. Protests have since occurred on a daily basis in Cochabamba and along the road connecting the city to Sacaba; however, security personnel have refrained from using live ammunition.

In a related development on 17 November, the Bolivian government formed a special division of the Prosecutor’s Office, which will begin detaining individuals associated with former President Morales’ Movement for Socialism (MAS) party on charges of sedition. The security situation is likely to deteriorate further as a result of the escalating tension between the transitional government and supporters of Morales. An increase in the scale and intensity of protest actions is li

France (Security threat level – 3): On 16 November 2019, thousands of protesters gathered in Bordeaux, Paris, Toulouse and elsewhere across France to mark the one-year anniversary of the "yellow vest" protest movement. Riot police deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters attempting to march from the Porte de Champerret in northwestern Paris southeast toward Gare d’Austerlitz; additional clashes occurred near the Place d’Italie in the south as demonstrators threw stones at riot police and set fire to barricades and a municipal government vehicle. Officials in Paris closed a number of metro rail stations and additional police forces deployed around the Champs-Élysées and outside government buildings. Police officers arrested at least 147 people across the city by late afternoon. Elsewhere in France, smaller-scale clashes between police officers and protesters occurred in the cities of Bordeaux, Nantes and Lyon. kely in the coming days.

Georgia (Security threat level – 3): On 18 November 2019, riot police officers deployed tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters near the parliament building and along Rustaveli Avenue in central Tbilisi; minor clashes between officers and demonstrators have been ongoing at the site. Protesters blocked lawmakers from entering the building and were also blocking traffic along Rustaveli Avenue. Officers have detained several protesters and there have been unconfirmed reports of injuries, although an exact count is not yet available. Thousands of protesters had gathered outside the parliament building for a fourth consecutive day to protest lawmakers’ refusal to pass electoral reform legislation.

Iran (Security threat level – 3): As of 18 November 2019, reports indicate that a full internet blackout is underway across Iran due to ongoing large-scale anti-government protests across the country. Anti-government protesters and police officers are continuing to clash in several towns and cities in Iran, including in the capital Tehran. At least one person has been killed and authorities have arrested at least 1,000 people since the protests began on 15 November over a 50% increase in fuel prices.

There were reports of widespread protests across the country, including in Tehran and the city of Shiraz — located approximately 940 km (580 mi) south of Tehran — over the weekend of 16-17 November. In Shahriar and Rabat Karim, provincial officials closed schools in an effort to quell demonstrations. On 16 November, protesters in Tehran set fire to buildings and perpetrated riots. Police officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Meanwhile, protests continued to spread to several other cities throughout the country, including Chahardangeh, Shahriar and Esllamshahr. In Andishe, protesters took control of a Basij militia headquarters. The government announced that Iranian security forces would use harsher tactics to quell demonstrators if the protests continued to escalate.

Protests initially broke out on 15 November, when demonstrators in the southwestern province of Ahwaz gathered on the streets after abandoning their cars. Separately, clashes also broke out in Sirjan — located approximately 800 km south of Tehran — after protesters attempted to set fire to an oil depot. Police officers fired tear gas at protesters, but there were no reports of injuries.

Iraq (Security threat level – 5): On 16 November 2019, unidentified militants detonated a car bomb on Jumhuriya Bridge, located near Tahrir Square in downtown Baghdad. The bombing killed two protesters and injured 10 others. Tahrir Square is the epicenter of the ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, and a large number of protesters were in the area at the time of the blast. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack appears to have targeted demonstrators, who have been participating in anti-government protests since October 2019. The likely perpetrator of the attack is unclear; while the Islamic State militant group remains capable of conducting such attacks, Iran-linked militants also have a history of perpetrating such attacks and have generally opposed the protests.

Mexico (Security threat level – 4): On 17 November 2019, the U.S. Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

"The Consulate continues to monitor the security situation in the city of Nuevo Laredo following violence between Mexican authorities and criminal organizations that started on November 15.

"Additional restrictions on movement and an early curfew imposed on U.S. government personnel on November 16 have been lifted. U.S. government personnel remain subject to normal movement and curfew restrictions in Nuevo Laredo as described in the current Mexico Travel Advisory."

Tuesday 19 November 2019:

Bolivia (Security threat level – 3): In the morning hours of 19 November 2019, supporters of former President Evo Morales blocked the bioceanic road that connects the eastern Bolivian city of San José de Chiquitos to the country’s border with Brazil. Intercity bus services from San José de Chiquitos to other cities have been suspended. Road blockades have also been reported in the towns of San Julián and Cuatro Cañadas. No reports regarding protest actions in major cities, including La Paz and Cochabamba, have emerged as yet. The availability of basic essentials, such as food and fuel, continues to be an issue in La Paz and other urban centers due to roadblocks on the country’s major highways.

On 18 November thousands of members of the Council of Peasant Federations of the Yungas of La Paz (Cofecay) marched to downtown La Paz from the nearby city of El Alto. Meanwhile, in Cochabamba, police officers fired tear gas to disperse protesters who were attempting to enter the city. Police officers in Cochabamba arrested one person who was allegedly in possession of stolen police supplies, including bulletproof vests and grenades. Clashes between demonstrators and police officers also occurred in the southern town of Villazón. Nonetheless, there were no reports of significant injuries during these clashes.

In a related political development, the Catholic Church, in coordination with the U.N. and the EU, has initiated a national dialogue in which the government, political parties and civic leaders will participate to resolve the current crisis in Bolivia. The negotiations will focus on restoring peace, reaching a consensus to elect a new Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and calling for new general elections. However, a negotiated settlement of the current political crisis is unlikely without the involvement of Morales, who has sought political asylum in Mexico.

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 18 November 2019, unidentified perpetrator(s) fired live ammunition amid a small-scale anti-government protest in the capital Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of people were marching from the Delmas neighborhood to the upscale Petion-Ville area at the time. At least four people, including two police officers and one protester, suffered gunshot wounds. Elsewhere in Haiti, protesters erected flaming barricades in the cities of Port-Au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouquets, Miragoane and Les Cayes. The march followed a speech by President Jovenel Moïse in which he refused to resign from office and stated that he was open to further dialogue with the opposition to quell the unrest. The protest actions coincided with the commemoration of the Battle of Vertières, which marks the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution.

India (Security threat level – 3): As of 19 November 2019, protests against a proposed fee increase are ongoing on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in the capital New Delhi. Authorities filed two First Information Reports (FIRs) against the student demonstrators on 19 November following clashes between protesters and police officers the previous day. Authorities stated that approximately 30 police officers and 15 protesters suffered injuries during clashes when the demonstrators attempted to march from the JNU campus to Parliament, which is located approximately 10 km (6 mi) to the north. Police officers stated that they temporarily detained approximately 100 demonstrators during the protests, which initially began on 11 November.

Ethiopia (Security threat level – 4): On 18 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Ethiopia, which reads in part as follows: “A referendum on the question of forming a new regional state will be held in the Sidama Zone of Southern Nations Region on 20 November, with the results expected in the days following. Street protests around this issue have led to violence in the past. Consequently as a precaution, British Embassy staff are being told to postpone travel to the Sidama zone, including the city of Hawassa, until later dates. If you are in the area you should ensure you familiarize yourself with the relevant sections of this travel advice , exercise caution and follow the advice of local authorities.”

Guinea (Security threat level – 4): On 18 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Conakry issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“The National Women’s Committee of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG) has announced a planned protest march to occur in Conakry and across all of Guinea on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. In Conakry, the protest march is projected to start on Rue de Prince at Bambéto circle, continue through Hamdallaye circle, and end at the Bellevue heliport/soccer field adjacent to Bellevue circle. The announced time of the protest march is from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“Embassy Conakry personnel have been ordered to avoid Rue de Prince and Bellvue Boulevard between the Bambéto and Bellevue circles from 7 a.m. Tuesday, November 19, 2019 until 7 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.

“As a reminder, Guinea is under a Level 2 Travel Advisory , which means that U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution when traveling here due to civil unrest. Frequent, unpredictable demonstrations occur across the country. Some have turned violent, resulting in injuries and fatalities. Demonstrators have also attacked vehicles when drivers attempted to pass through or around the protests. Criminals take advantage of the resulting traffic congestion to rob/extort money from drivers and pedestrians.”

Haiti (Security threat level – 4): On 19 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued updated travel advice for Haiti, which reads in part as follows: "There have been sporadic, unpredictable and sometimes violent demonstrations, protests and roadblocks in Port au Prince and throughout Haiti since July 2018, with a notable increase in civil unrest in the weeks since 2 September 2019. The movement of goods and people into and within the country is often disrupted due to blocked roads and security incidents. As a consequence, there are sometimes fuel and food shortages. There are currently no UK diplomats in country, although the Embassy remains open."

Israel (Security threat level – 3): On 18 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Israel issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza

“Event: The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens in or considering travel to or through Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness in light of the current environment. Individuals and groups opposed to the Secretary of State’s recent announcement may target U.S. government facilities, U.S. private interests, and U.S. citizens. Potential targets include public events, such as demonstrations, holiday events, and celebratory gatherings; hotels, clubs, and restaurants popular with U.S. citizens; places of worship; schools; shopping malls and markets; tourism infrastructure; public transportation and airports.”

Wednesday 20 November 2019:

Colombia (Security threat level – 4): On 21 November 2019, at least 150 trade unions and civil society groups across Colombia will embark on a “paro nacional,” which will comprise a countrywide general labor strike accompanied by street demonstrations. These demonstrations are scheduled to occur in cities across Colombia, including in Bogotá, Cartagena, Cali, Medellín and Bucaramanga, to protest against President Iván Duque’s economic policies, among other grievances. In Bogotá, marches are expected to begin at 0900 local time (1400 UTC) on 21 November starting from National Park, the Cundinamarca Governorate, National University, Sevillana metro station, Hospital San Juan de Dios, and the Chicó neighborhood, and will end at Plaza de Bolívar in the afternoon hours. Elsewhere in the country, indigenous communities in Cauca will demonstrate from 21-22 November. A representative for Air Traffic Controllers in Colombia has stated that air traffic controllers ideologically support the strike; however, they provide an essential public service and therefore cannot legally participate in work stoppages. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Workers Union stated that at least half of its 3,000 members at airports nationwide will participate in scheduled assemblies between 0600-1000 local time.

On the previous day, the Colombian government announced that it will close all land and river borders with Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela in preparation for the countrywide strike. The border closure will be in effect from 0000 local time on 20 November through 0500 local time on 22 November. Authorities stated that the measure is intended to limit potential violence during demonstrations by preventing foreign provocateurs from entering the country. In a related development on 18 November, Colombian officials announced that they will authorize mayors and governors to adopt emergency measures — such as declaring curfews and imposing restrictions on carrying weapons and prohibitions on the sale of alcohol — as needed during the 21 November demonstrations to prevent probable violence. While organizers have called for the demonstrations to remain peaceful and have been attempting to coordinate with authorities to ensure this, disruptions are highly likely. Travelers and expatriates in Colombia should plan accordingly and avoid all demonstrations to lower the likelihood that they will be collaterally affected by any possible violence at protests.

Syria / Israel (Security threat levels – 5 / 3): On 20 November 2019, the Israeli military stated that it had successfully struck dozens of Syrian and allied Iranian forces in Syria during “wide-scale” retaliatory strikes in Syria. The strikes targeted locations in several suburbs of Damascus, including Kisweh and Qudsaya, as well as Mazzeh Military Airport (OS67) in the western part of the city. Syrian state news agency SANA claimed that Syrian air defenses intercepted most of the Israeli missiles; however, the Israeli military stated that its fighter aircraft hit multiple targets, including surface-to-air missiles, weapons warehouses, military bases and several Syrian aerial defense batteries. SANA also stated that two civilians were killed and a number of others were wounded after being hit by shrapnel in Saasaa, located southwest of Damascus. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that at least 11 fighters were killed. Israel launched the strikes in retaliation for rockets fired toward the Israeli-controlled area of the Golan Heights on 19 November.

Cameroon (Security threat level – 4): On 20 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé issued a Security Alert, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: North and Far North Regions

“Event: U.S. citizens in the North and Far North Regions of Cameroon should take all necessary precaution to prevent attacks, kidnappings, or other associated actions by terrorist groups seeking to retaliate for the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that our April 9, 2019, Travel Advisory for Cameroon advises no travel to these regions due to the threat of crime, kidnapping, and terrorism.”

Lesser Antilles (Security threat level – 1): On 19 November 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados issued a Demonstration Alert for Dominica, which reads in part as follows:

“Location: In the capital of Roseau and possibly near government buildings throughout Dominica.

“Event: Demonstrations and protests are expected in advance of presidential elections on December 6, 2019. Recent demonstrations have involved police use of tear gas.

“U.S. government personnel and others have been urged to exercise caution if planning to travel to Dominica over the next several weeks.”

Sri Lanka (Security threat level – 4): On 20 November 2019, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice for Sri Lanka to include the following: “The Sri Lankan presidential elections took place on 16 November 2019. There were sporadic incidents of violence during the campaign and it is possible these will continue into the post – election period. You should take appropriate security precautions, follow local advice, comply with security instructions and avoid large gatherings, protests and rallies.”

Thursday 21 November 2019:

NSTR