Global Security Forecast • Week 6 • 9 – 15 February

Global Security Forecast • Week 6 • 9 – 15 February

Bahrain: Nationwide – Possibility of protest action on anniversary of 2011 unrest on 14 February

The upcoming anniversary heightens the risk posed to travellers as security forces are expected to adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards anti-government protests held on the day. “Preventative” arrests are highly likely prior to 14 February and aggressive dispersal measures will be in place to prevent protests from spreading beyond restricted areas and to stop the organisation of mass protests, particularly in Manama.

ADVICE: Employ a heightened level of vigilance in the coming week and adhere to all advice issued by security personnel. Read our latest travel advisory for further information.

Venezuela: Colombian Border – The country’s military has blocked the border crossing with Colombia to halt the arrival of international aid

The Venezuelan military has blocked the Tienditas bridge in response to the arrival of US aid trucks. President Maduro has rejected letting the aid into the country, while opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has declared himself interim president, has warned many Venezuelans are in danger of dying without international aid.

ADVICE:  All non-essential travel to the country continues to be advised against. Be aware that the situation remains tense and could escalate with little or no warning.

Iran: Nationwide – Iranians are set to celebrate the anniversary of the country’s revolution in 1979

Iran is set to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution’s victory on Monday, 11 February. The celebration comes amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, a prolonged economic downturn and an attack on a military base in the southeast of the country.

On February 11, Tehran has organised a march to Tehran’s Azadi (freedom) Square in the capital to mark the day the monarchy was officially toppled 10 days after the triumphant return from exile of the revolution’s leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The event is likely to take place under a high level of security, especially after the attack on a Revolutionary Guard military base in Basij.

Despite the celebrations, the country faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and US sanctions. The country’s currency, the Rial, has sharply devalued against the dollar, driving up prices. While the re-introduction of sanctions has blocked foreign investment and limited oil sales. Tehran has warned against those who threaten the country from within and called for national unity.

In addition to these challenges, the country is also dealing with an environmental crisis, brought on by a mix of air pollution, soil erosion, drought and desertification.

ADVICE: Travellers in-country are advised to monitor for possible protest action and monitor Solace Secure alerts for the latest updates. If driving, be aware that some roads may become blocked by protesters and/or celebratory rallies.

Lebanon: Nationwide – Heightened security is being employed ahead of two significant anniversaries in country

Security will be high in Beirut ahead of the anniversaries of the killing of senior Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh on 12 February, and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on 14 February. While commemorative events on 12 February tend to be confined to Hezbollah strongholds in southern Beirut, there is a higher security risk associated with the annual commemoration of the assassination of Rafik Hariri in the Downtown area.

Despite the formation of a new government that put an end to nearly nine months of political deadlock, tensions remain high, with the risk that those could manifest next week. Any major security incident during or against those events, especially on 14 February, would likely derail the achievements thus far.

Advice: Travellers are advised to employ a heightened level of caution in the country over the course of the anniversaries. Read our Travel Advisory for more information

US: Washington – President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress

President Trump finally made is State of the Union speech; the president used his speech to extend an olive branch to Democrats despite recent months of accusing them of obstructing the border wall with Mexico. The president also made a case for a state of emergency on the borders of the country. Trump also, in a mirror to President Nixon’s final State of the Union speech, called for an end of the investigation into his presidency.

ADVICE: Protest are uncommon in the United States; however, large rallies do occur on occasion over gun violence, women’s rights and other issues; monitor media reports for further information.

Cameroon: Yaoundé – US to withdraw military support from Cameroon government over current Anglophone crisis

Washington has withdrawn support for the Yaoundé government over the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. As a result, the US has halted its C-130 aircraft training program, as well as halting the deliveries of four defender boats, nine armoured vehicles and an upgrade of an ageing Cessna aircraft for Cameroon’s rapid intervention battalion.

Furthermore, the United States had withdrawn its offer for Cameroon to be part of the State Partnership Program, a military cooperation program.

ADVICE: The situation in the country remains adverse, especially in the anglophone regions to the northwest and southwest of the country. Only essential travel to these regions should be carried out.

France/Italy: Rome – Paris has withdrawn its ambassador to Italy for consultations after a series of provocations by the Italian government

The French foreign ministry said that it had recalled its ambassador to Rome for consultations after a series of “provocations” by Italy’s populist government. In a statement, the ministry said, “for several months France has been the subject of repeated accusations, unfounded attacks and outlandish claims.”

Tensions have been high between the two countries since the election of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League party came to power in June in a coalition government.

ADVICE: The latest political spat is unlikely to cause much changes in the two countries’ relations. However, the foreign government support for Yellow Vest protesters shows the strength and enduring power of the movement. Further protests should be expected in the coming weeks.

Afghanistan: Kabul – After progress in peace talks, the US has now stated its intentions to withdraw from Afghanistan

The Taliban have now sat down for talks with Americans in Qatar and with senior members of the Afghan elite in Moscow. However, while these talks are ongoing, the US president Donald Trump has made it clear that he wants US troops to withdraw from the country and from America’s longest war.

While the progress of the talks has been positive, the talk of the United States intention to leave as long as a deal can be made gives a sense of unease. When a superpower signals its desperation to get out of a conflict, the subsequent negotiations are designed only to provide diplomatic cover. The Taliban will be aware of this, they will, therefore, make more promises that they do not intend to keep simply to help expedite the US troop departure; indeed, they have offered similar assurances in the past.

The Taliban are calling for a withdrawal of foreign troops and an instalment of an interim government. Both of which would allow them to wait for the last US troops to leave before potentially disregarding any agreements and attempting to retake Kabul and the majority of the country; as they did in 1996.

ADVICE: The situation in Afghanistan remains unstable. Should talks collapse, there may be an increase in attacks in the country; especially in Kabul.

SIGNIFICANT DATES AND EVENTS

Date Country Event Potential for Violence
10 Feb Switzerland Referendum NEGLIGIBLE
16 Feb Nigeria Presidential and Legislative elections HIGH
24 Feb Cuba Referendum LOW
24 Feb Moldova Legislative elections MODERATE
1 Feb Senegal Presidential elections MODERATE
28 Feb Brazil Salvador de Bahia Carnival LOW
3 March Estonia Parliamentary Elections NEGLIGIBLE