Global Security Forecast • Week 7 • 16 – 22 February


France: Nationwide – Clashes reported at Yellow Vest protests nationwide, 9-10 February. After the National Assembly passed a controversial “anti-hooligan law” that allows police to ban demonstrations, on 9-10 February, a “Yellow Vest” protest was held. Violent clashes were reported along the Champs Elysees and police fired tear gas at protesters. Violence was also reported in front of the National Assembly building. At least 39 people were arrested, and several were injured. Protests were also reported in Toulouse, Marseille, Montpellier and Lyon. ADVICE: Yellow Vest protests are known to turn violent with little notice. Travellers are advised to avoid all Yellow Vets demonstrations and public gatherings. Travellers are advised to monitor local media for situational updates on Yellow Vest (Gilet Jaunes) protests. Further related demonstrations are anticipated over the next weeks. Violence and unrest cannot be ruled out. Egypt: Cairo – Parliament votes to approve draft constitutional changes to allow President Sisi to remain in power for another 12 years The Egyptian parliament has overwhelmingly voted to approve draft constitutional changes that could extend President Abdul al-Sisi’s presidency to 2034. Sisi is currently due to step down in 2022 after his second four-year term; however, 485 of 596 lawmakers voted on 14 February to lengthen presidential terms to six years as well as allowing Sisi to serve another two. Several Egyptian human rights groups have spoken out against the decision. The announcement is unlikely to provoke significant disorder as the Egyptian security forces maintain a firm grip over any potential unrest in country. However, there is a possibility for both demonstrations, outbursts in violence and for terror attacks. A bomb attack was carried out on 15 February with an IED detonating near Giza’s Al-Istiqamah Mosque while the authorities were attempting to diffuse the device. A second IED was successfully diffused near Al-Nahda Square. ADVICE: Travellers are advised to monitor for unrest and be aware of the possibility for further terror attacks. United Kingdom: London – Two injured in acid attack in central London, 12 February. The UK has seen a dramatic increase in acid attacks, with London being a major target area. According to Acid Survivors Trust International (ASTI), there is an average of two acids attacks per day across the country. The latest one occurred on 12 February. During afternoon hours local time, police were called to Argyle Street, Near King’s Cross Station to reports of an altercation between two groups. Officers reported that one group left the location by the time they arrived, however, two men were later found nearby with facial injuries caused by a corrosive substance. No arrests have yet been made. ADVICE: Travellers are advised to be aware of the common occurrence of acid attacks in London. Travellers should report any suspicious behaviour to the authorities and maintain situational awareness at all times. Belgium:  Nationwide – National strike on 13 February brings the country to a standstill A strike organised by air traffic controllers and baggage handlers triggered major disruptions at airports nationwide, notably in Brussels on 13 February. Unionised public-sector workers joined the strike in support of pay demands. Brussel Airlines cancelled 222 flights and reportedly more than 16,000 passengers were affected. Antwerp and Charleroi airports were closed. Several international airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa, cancelled or rescheduled their flights ahead of the anticipated disruption. The 24hr strike also affected other means of transportation such as trains, buses and trams. Moreover, the air traffic control agency, Skeyes, ordered the shutdown of the national airspace due to safety concerns triggered by staffing uncertainties. ADVICE: The majority of delays have now cleared; however, travellers should contact their airline directly for further information. India: Jammu and Kashmir State – An IED explosion has left almost 50 soldiers dead in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir State Banned terrorist organisation, allegedly backed by Pakistan, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack in the Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday, 14 February. The attack has left 46 soldiers dead and is the deadliest single attack on Indian troops in the region in decades. New Delhi has accused Pakistan of failing to act against the militant group and has stated that it will ensure the “complete isolation” of Pakistan as a result. India also accused that Pakistan of harbouring Jaish-e-Mohammad, the group behind the attack. It has called for global sanctions against the group and for its leader, Masood Azhar, to be listed as a terrorist by the UN security council. However, past attempts at doing so have repeatedly been blocked by China; an ally of Pakistan.


Nigeria: Nationwide – Elections set to take place on 16 February amid heightened security. General elections are scheduled in Nigeria on 16 February to elect the President and the National Assembly. The latest polling suggests that current President, Muhammadu Buhari of the APC (All Progressives Congress), is likely to lose to the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP (People’s Democratic Party). Security has already been heightened across Nigeria in the run up to the elections, with political demonstrations in major cities, including; Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, becoming increasingly frequent that have the potential to turn violent. On 10 February, two offices of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) were burnt down; however, it is unclear who was responsible. Additionally, following the suspension of the country’s Chief Justice, there are concerns over the potential for voting irregularities. Any indication of such would almost certainly result in widespread unrest and violence, as well as condemnation from the international community. There has also been a recent upsurge in attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria’s north-east, while the US State Department has reported an increased propaganda campaign by the terrorist group. Both Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) have issued threats stating that they intend to carry out attacks on various targets, including the Nigerian security forces, country infrastructure and on busy urban centres frequented by foreigners’ travellers. ADVICE: Defer all non-essential travel into Nigeria until after the elections have been concluded due to the threat of protests which could turn violent and uncertainty over the outcome. Travellers already in country should limit non-essential movements and avoid all large gatherings and protests. Adhere to all advice issued by the authorities. Read our latest travel advisory for further information. Bangladesh: Dhaka – Religious event in Tongi, outskirts of Dhaka, 15-18 February. Bangladesh is set to host Bishwa Ijtema, the world’s second-largest Muslim gathering, between 15 – 18 February. The event will be centralised along the banks of the Turag River near Tongi, on the outskirts of Dhaka. Although the gathering is generally peaceful, it is predicted that some five million attendees will flood into Dhaka and surrounding areas, which will inevitably hinder of security and travel to some extent. Moreover, there has been confrontations between two factions of Tabligh Jamaat in the build-up to this year’s festival – with clashes taking place in December and resulting in at least one death and more than 200 injured. The State Minister for Religious Affairs, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, is said to have secured a peaceful conclusion after talks with the two feuding Tabligh Jamaat factions – but this does eliminate all concerns regarding the event. ADVICE:  Travellers planning to attend the festival should exercise caution and remain vigilant. Travel in and around the area will be severely impacted and therefore travellers will need to allow additional time for movements or plan alternative routes. Haiti: Nationwide – US embassy evacuates non-emergency staff as unrest impacts country; further unrest likely The US State Department has issued a travel warning on Thursday ordering all non-emergency personnel and their families out of the country. The warning comes as protests in Port-au-Prince have turned violent this week; at least two people were killed and dozens more injured, some severely, as police and anti-government protesters clashed. Unrest has been ongoing for months in the Caribbean country’s capital as demonstrators are demanding to know the whereabouts of some $4 billion that was supposed to have gone to social development. Tourists and aid workers have reportedly been trapped in the country by the unrest, with the protests also impacting supplies of food, fuel and drinking water. Further unrest is likely over the weekend. ADVICE: All non-essential travel to the country should be deferred for at least the next week. If currently in-country, consider departing as well as limiting all travel to only essential movements. Zimbabwe: Nationwide – Robert Mugabe National Youth Day, 21 February. Zimbabwe is set to celebrate its second Robert Mugabe National Youth Day on 21 February. The public holiday falls on the former President’s birthday and was declared to honour his role in empowering Zimbabwe’s youth. Celebrations on this date are not new and during Mugabe’s rule, it was marked with extravagance and public gatherings across the country. However, the holiday is also highly controversial due to the nature of the decades-long Mugabe rule. Social media and news sources indicate that millions of Zimbabweans are disappointed and angry at the establishment of the public holiday due to Mugabe’s mismanagement of the economy and rampant corruption allegations. Advice: Travellers are advised to avoid large gatherings or protests as they have the potential to turn violent or be suppressed with force by security forces. Spain: Nationwide – Prime minister calls for snap elections on 28 April following rejection of country’s budget Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has called for a snap general election to be held on the 28 April. The call comes after Catalan secessionists joined right-wing parties in rejecting the government’s national budget. The election is set to be the third in less than four years in the country and it was seen as an inevitability after the government’s budget was defeated by 191 to 158. The prime minister’s Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party is currently ahead in the polls and it is likely that they will use the threat of an incoming right-leaning government as a rallying cry to get voters to the ballot box. Advice: Be aware that political campaigning and politically motivated gatherings are likely in the run-up to the election and may result in disruption.


Date Country Event Potential for Violence
15 Feb India Kumbh Mela LOW
15 Feb Afghanistan Liberation Day HIGH
15 Feb Iran Martyrdom of Imam Reza HIGH
15 Feb Serbia Statehood Day LOW
16-19 Feb Nice Carnival de Nice LOW
16-19 Feb Italy Venice Carnival LOW
16 Feb Nigeria Presidential and Legislative elections HIGH
18 Feb Guinea-Bissau Election campaign MODERATE
18 Feb Gambia Independence Day MODERATE
18 Feb Nepal National Democracy Day LOW
18 Feb Puerto Rico Presidents Day LOW
19 Feb Asian Calendar Lantern Festival LOW
19 Feb Cambodia Buddha Day LOW
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