Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 06

Headlines From This Week

  • Former-Prime Minister Sentenced in Bangladesh – Former-Prime Minister and current opposition leader in Bangladesh, Khaleda Zia, has been sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges. Zia and her supporters have called the claims politically-motivated. Clashes occurred outside of the courthouse as the sentence came down on 08 February. One fatality has been reported as well as 25 injuries.
  • Winter Olympics Begin – The Opening Ceremony for the 2018 Winter Olympics took place in Pyeongchang, South Korea on 09 February. The Games have been overshadowed by the threat of North Korea. However, Pyongyang has sent an Olympic delegation and has entered competitors in a series of different sports including women’s ice hockey, where North and South Korea will field a single, combined team. Some anti-Pyongyang protests have occurred at North Korean events, as well as before the Opening Ceremony.
  • Deadly Earthquake in Taiwan – At least ten people were killed and 270 injured after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck north of the Taiwanese city of Hualien on 06 February. A series of significant aftershocks have hampered search and rescue attempts. At the latest count, seven people remain unaccounted for.
  • Economic Instability – Global stock markets faced a volatile week. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 fell by more than 1,000 points on 08 February, this followed similar losses on 05 February. These losses come amid recent stock market records. Share prices in Asia and Europe have faced similar volatility which have been attributed to concerns over inflation, the US budget deal, and a potential interest rate rise. The US government was briefly shutdown for the second time in month overnight on the 08-09 February, but US lawmakers eventually passed a budget to fund the government for two years. The budget will increase spending in a number of areas, including defence, where spending will rise nine per cent.
  • US Airstrike in Syria – The United States conducted a series of air and artillery strikes in Deir al-Zour province, Syria overnight on 07 February, targeting government forces. Commentators have suggested that United States has drawn a line in the sand and wants to prevent pro-regime troops from recovering territory east of Euphrates River, which is currently held by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. Syrian President Assad has labelled the attack, which killed 100 of 500 advancing troops, a “brutal massacre”.
  • Post-Election Violence in Guinea – At least seven people have been killed in post-election riots in the west African nation of Guinea. Local elections took place on 04 February and were the first since the end of a period of military rule; riots occurred amid electoral fraud allegations. Further unrest is expected as full results will only be released on 09 February.

What To Look Out For Next Week

  • Lunar New Year – The Lunar New Year, commonly known as Chinese New Year, begins on 16 February. Celebrations occur not only in China but across East Asia with Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Mongolia all celebrating their own traditions. Other New Year events should be expected in locations with significant populations of those of East Asian origin. Travellers should expect extensive travel delays in countries in East Asia as well as disruption of government and official affairs. 
  • Munich Security Conference – The 54th Munich Security Conference, a leading international forum on security policy, is set to take place between 16 and 18 February, at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany. More than 20 heads of state and government and around 75 foreign and defence ministers are expected to attend. 4,000 police officers are due to be deployed and several road closures will be put in place; trams will not stop at Karlsplatz. A rally has already been announced in opposition to the conference for 17 February, with around 4,000 activists set to attend. Police are also anticipating 20 more smaller gatherings. 
  • ELN Three-Day National Blockade – The National Liberation Army (ELN) rebel group in Colombia are due to hold a 72-hour national blockade beginning at 0600 hours on 10 February, to protest the government’s suspension of peace negotiations. In western Colombia, especially coastal Choco province where the group is active, citizens are encouraged not to travel, as transport on roads and waterways will be halted. Some violence should be expected during this period.

Significant Dates and Events

  • 09-14 February – Carnival celebrations (notably Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • 10 February – Fenkil Day (Commemorates the Battle of Massawa), Eritrea
  • 11 February – Youth Day, Cameroon
  • 11 February – Victory of Islamic Revolution Day, Iran
  • 11 February – Foundation Day, Japan
  • 12 February – Myanmar Unity Day
  • 14 February – Anniversary of 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (Lebanon)
  • 15 February – Liberation Day, Afghanistan
  • 16 February – Statehood Day, Serbia
  • 16 February – Anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s birthday
  Click the following link to download this report as a PDF: Weekly Risk Roundup – Week 06 The Weekly Risk Roundup highlights significant events from the last week and what to look out for next week. Week 06 Weekly Risk Roundup was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.