Global Security Forecast: Week 3 2019

LEBANON: Beirut –  Anticipate disruption during Arab League Summit 19 -20 January The Arab Social and Economic Development Summit will take place in Beirut on Saturday, 19 January and conclude on Sunday, 20 January 20.  Travellers in Beirut should anticipate heightened security throughout the city as well as road closures and travel disruption over the weekend.  Beirut’s Central Business District will host most of the events over the weekend and access to the area will be heavily restricted for the duration of the weekend.  Road closures near the Central Business District will begin from the evening of 17 January.  Additional security forces are being deployed throughout the city for the duration of the summit.  Disruption and increased waiting times should be expected at Rafic Hariri International Airport as foreign dignities both arrive and depart from 18 – 21 January. Protests and associated disruption should be anticipated, especially in central areas of the city, as political activists seek to exploit the global media attention. ADVICE: Reconfirm the status of routes prior to setting out and ensure that you factor in additional time to complete your journeys. Plan routes avoiding key Summit locations to minimise disruption.  Arrive at the airport in plenty of time for departing flights. Follow all directions by the security forces. DRC: Kinshasa; urban centres – Tensions remain elevated following request for recount of election results.  Minimise movement near protest flashpoints. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) constitutional court will rule on Martin Fayulu’s challenge to the election results and request for a recount of the votes.  Fayulu was announced as the provisional runner up by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) however their results did not marry counts by election monitors from the Catholic Church or the pre-election polls.  Numerous governments, including France and the UK, have called for CENI to fully investigate allegations of election fraud following doubts over the credibility of the results and do all that is possible to ensure the candidate with the most votes assume the Presidency.  In an unprecedented move, the African Union (AU) followed suit, stating that the allegations of fraud must be fully investigated prior to the announcement of the election result and calling for the announcement of the final result to be suspended.    The AU will now send a mission to the DRC and have asked the constitutional court to wait until the delegation arrives before continuing their investigation. The CENI announced provisional results contradict data compiled by the 40,000 election observers operating under the Catholic Church which indicates that the declared runner up, Martin Fayulu, won as much as 61% of the vote.  While the post-election security environment has remained reasonably calm – tensions are expected to become elevated the longer investigations go on.    For more information please see our latest Travel Advisory. ADVICE: Travellers currently in the DRC should continue to minimise movement near potential protest flashpoints in major urban centres and stay up to date with planned political demonstrations in your area. Flashpoints include the Constitutional Court and Independent National Electoral Commission in Kinshasa and government buildings in other major cities. If you are in-country, ensure that you have access to, secure, compound-based accommodation and a clear escalation plan if the event security situation deteriorates.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further details. BURKINA FASO: Nord; Est; Sahel regions – Kidnapping and killing of foreign national underscores need for upscaling security precautions. A Canadian geologist working at a mining site in North-eastern Burkino Faso was found dead near Gorom-Gorom (Sahel region) two days after being kidnapped during an attack by militants on a government-run mine exploration site.  The body was discovered riddled with bullets approximately 100km north of the site near the Niger border. Militants stormed the exploration camp in Tiabongou (Sahel region) at 20.00 on 15 January abducting the Canadian national along with Burkinabe national.  The killing comes a matter of days after Canadian authorities announced that one of their citizens was kidnapped along with an Italian national in the west of the country near the second biggest city in Burkina, Bobo-Dioulasso. The severe deterioration in the security environment over the last 12 months has led the Burkina Faso government to implement a state of emergency the Nord, Shael and Est regions; due to the increasing threat posed by Islamist militants.   The long and porous border with Niger and Mali has allowed militants to establish transnational-networks and avoid full confrontation with security forces.  Please revisit our Travel Advisory from October detailing how international organisations should be up-scaling security measures to enable secure travel to the affected regions. ADVICE: Travellers should seek itinerary specific support prior to travel to all border areas due to the credible risk posed by kidnap or attack by Sahel based Islamist militants. Travel risk managers should be confident of escalation and accommodation arrangements and consider a site security assessment before allowing staff to be housed in on-site premises. ZIMBABWE: Harare, Bulawayo; urban centres – Anti-government protests likely to persist in coming days Violent anti-government protests broke out in Harare, Bulawayo and other Zimbabwean cities following a televised announcement by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that gasoline and diesel prices would increase by as much as 100% due to nationwide shortages.  The deteriorating economic situation and ongoing currency crisis has made it increasingly difficult for Zimbabwean importers to secure foreign currency to purchase fuel.  In response to the announcement, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for a nationwide strike to be held. Protests erupted on 14 January in most major cities leading to a forceful response by security forces.  Local media reports indicate that police fired tear gas and live ammunition towards large groups and videos have circulated of armed and uniformed men entering hospitals to detain injured protesters.  In response, the Zimbabwean government have implemented a ‘national blackout’ restricting the internet and other telecommunications throughout the country.  Protests are likely to continue in the coming days causing associated disruptions. For more information please see our latest Travel Advisory. ADVICE: Travellers in Zimbabwe should minimise near potential protest flashpoints in the coming days due to the credible threat posed by clashes between demonstrators and security forces and consult local media, in-country contacts and Solace Global Alerts for details of any planned or ongoing demonstrations in your area. Periodically test all communications to ensure you have the capability to quickly speak to the relevant people in a crisis.

Global Headlines • 12 – 18 January 2019

KENYA: Nairobi – Hotel siege ends.  At least 21 dead and 19 still missing. Anticipate heightened security and associated disruption in coming days. Nineteen hours after the attack began Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, officially declared the siege at the DusitD2 hotel over on 16 January after all attackers had been killed.  Twenty-one people were confirmed dead while countless others remain unaccounted for. The Al Qaeda linked militant group Al Shabaab, claimed responsibility, stating that the attack was in retaliation to the US decision to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The attack began when five militants stormed the popular Riverside complex at 14.30 local time throwing grenades at vehicles near the main entrance before entering the main lobby of the hotel. Over the next 19 hours, Kenya security forces worked to evacuate those trapped in the hotel and secure the buildings on the site.  Intermittent gunfire and occasional explosions were heard throughout the night. The last militant was neutralised by security forces at approximately 9.00am. Many of those trapped in the building spent the night hiding in office and toilet blocks.   The attack targeted one of the highest profiles and affluent areas of Nairobi that was popular with foreign expatriates, business travellers as well as Kenyan politicians and businessmen.   The globalised and multicultural environment had elevated levels of security and the hotel employed a private security company to provide armed guards on site.  The attack appears to have been carefully planned to ensure maximum global attention and have a longer-term impact on the perception of the travel environment in Kenya – targeting what was considered by many, as one of the most secure areas of the city. ADVICE: Travel to Nairobi can resume following the attack.  Travellers should anticipate a heightened police and military presence throughout the city; especially around other major international hotels, shopping malls, government buildings and other areas of interest. Additionally, all travellers should exercise vigilance and follow all official directives issued by security forces.  The city will remain tense and on high alert in the coming weeks – potentially leading to disruption in certain central locations. SYRIA: Manbij – Four US soldiers killed in suicide explosion at a market in Northern Syria.  Continue to defer all travel. Nineteen people were killed, including four American soldiers, following a suicide explosion at a restaurant in the main market square of the Syria town, Manbij in the north east of Aleppo governorate on 16 January.  The town is currently controlled by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) after being liberated from Islamic State (IS) rule by American and Syrian Democratic Forces in June 2016.  American soldiers were in the restaurant at the time of the explosion to meet with officials from the Manbij Military council. The attack was subsequently claimed by IS and raised renewed doubts over claims by the American government that the Islamist group had been defeated in Syria.  Manbij remains away from areas of conflict and had been considered one of the safer areas in Northern Syria at the time of the attack.  The suicide bombing highlights the continued instability and lack of security throughout Syria.  The Islamic State are adapting their tactics and will continue to move away from a territory-based insurgence to a guerrilla-styled operation. America’s proposed withdrawal is likely to leave both Kurdish and Syrian forces without the capability to conduct effective counterterrorism operations throughout the country leading to an increase in suicide bombings and hit and run attacks throughout Syria. ADVICE: Continue to defer all travel to Syria at the current time.  While some diplomatic representation is reopening in Damascus and the security situation is improving, the preoccupation of security forces with ongoing conflict operations means security is still not adequate for travel.  Both crime and unrest are likely to increase in the coming year with security forces responding aggressively to anti-government demonstrations.  International sanctions continued to make it increasingly difficult for businesses to operate in the country. COLOMBIA; Bogota – Twenty people were killed after the detonation of a car bomb at the General Santander Police Academy on 17 January. At approximately 9.30 local time on 17 January, a grey vehicle entered the compound of the General Santander police academy in the south of Bogota.  It was stopped soon after by guards at an initial checkpoint just inside the compound before accelerating into a wall and where the car exploded.   A promotion ceremony for cadets was being held at the time of the explosion and families had been invited to see the cadets pass out.  Twenty people were killed and 68 were injured in the blast. The attacker was a 57-year-old male with no criminal record or ties to any militant groups within Colombia.  No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.  Pentolite was used to make the explosive device which has previously been used by rebel groups to target government targets. The suspect lived in the Northern Department of Boyacá in Colombia where the guerrilla militant group the National Liberation Army (ELN) are present.  Although there is no direct link to ELN involvement – they have targeted government and security forces in the past with explosive devices. Five policemen were killed and were 40 wounded when the ELN launched bomb attacks on three different police stations on January 27, 2018 in the north of Columbia. ADVICE: Travellers in Bogota should always maintain situational awareness, minimising time spent near government or judicial buildings and police compounds and checkpoints.  Report any suspicious activity or bags to the local authorities.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further updates.

Significant Dates and Events

Date Country Event Potential for Violence
TBC Jan Guinea Legislative elections MODERATE
1 Feb Senegal Presidential elections MODERATE
3 Feb El Salvador Presidential elections HIGH
16 Feb Nigeria Presidential and Legislative elections HIGH
24 Feb Cuba Referendum LOW
24 Feb Moldova Legislative elections MODERATE
TBC Feb Thailand Legislative elections MODERATE

Click the following link to download this report as a PDF: The Global Security Forecast highlights what travel security managers should look out for over the next week while also providing advice following significant events from the last week. The Global Security Forecast was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.