Global Security Forecast – Week 15

Global Security Forecast – Week 15

 

GLOBAL HEADLINES

Libya: Nationwide

The Haftar LNA advances on Tripoli, sparking clashes with the forces of the UN-backed Government of National Accord

On 3 April the Presidential Council declared a state of emergency in Tripoli and the Government of National Accord (GNA) mobilised allied forces following reports of the Libyan National Army (LNA) advancing towards the capital. The LNA responded to the command of the rival government based in the east of the country and led by General Khalif Haftar. Deadly clashes have since then taken place in the southern suburbs of Tripoli; with both sides claiming advantage. Pro-LNA sources had claimed that their forces had captured Qaser Bin Ghashir and Souq al-Khamis (Sog Al-Khmies) and attempted to take control of Tripoli International Airport (TIP) from troops loyal to the GNA. On 6 April, it was reported that the Libyan Air Force carried out targeted strikes against LNA positions at Mizdah and Sog Al-Khmies, near to Garyan city. Fighting has led to a death toll of at least 75 people and 323 wounded.

At the time of the writing, the conflicting forces remain locked in a standstill in the outskirts of the city, while over 9000 people have been displaced in the capital according to the UN. The international community has called for a ceasefire, as concerns rise over the impact of the conflict on Libya’s oil production capability and the spike in migration through the Mediterranean Sea.


Sudan: Khartoum

Sudanese army arrests President Omar al-Bashir and takes charge

On 11 April, the Sudanese defence minister announced the military had removed from office and arrested President Omar al-Bashir, following months of protests against his rule and a rise in the cost of living. A Supreme Security Committee will run the country for a two-year transitional period followed by elections. For more, read our travel advisory here.


United Kingdom: London

Julian Assange arrested in Ecuadorian embassy in London

Julian Assange was arrested in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on 11 April. The WikiLeaks founder was granted refuge in 2012 while on bail in the UK over sexual assault allegations against him in Sweden. Assange was found guilty of breaching bail and is due to be sentenced next month. The arrest comes on behalf of the United States authorities, who have charged him with involvement in computer hacking together with Chelsea Manning. Journalists and free speech advocates around the world have referred to the arrest as unconstitutional and a threat to journalism rights.

Shortly after his arrest, a number of Assange’s supporters gathered in London in protests. In Ecuador, demonstrations took place outside the Foreign Ministry building in Quito, chanting against President Lenin Moreno, who suddenly revoked his seven-year asylum and demanding Assange’s release. Most recently, supporters also gathered in front of the Opera House and outside the UK consulate in Sydney. It its likely that protests will continue until his sentencing in a months time.


India: Nationwide

General Elections, 11 April – 19 May

On 11 April, tens of millions of Indian nationals started voting on the first day of the general election. Indians in 20 states are beginning a seven-phase vote to elect a new lower house parliament scheduled to last until 19 May. With 900 million voters, this is set to be the largest election ever seen. In the 2014 elections the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won a historic landslide and it was favoured to win again in 2019. However, critics have argued that the promises have not met expectations, making these elections a meter to gauge if Prime Minister Narendra Modi still holds the trust of the population. The BJP faces several challenges from regional parties and a resurgent Indian National Congress party, led by Rahul Gandhi. The lower house of parliament has 543 elected seats and any party/coalition needs a minimum of 272 members to form a government. The elections are taking place in the context of the recent clashes with the neighbouring Pakistan after a suicide attack killed 40 Indian paramilitary police members in Kashmir in February.

Elections got off to a troubled start, with sporadic threats and violence reported in several locations across the country. Notably, the leader from the Telugu Desam Party and one from YSR Congress were killed during election-related violence in a village in the Anantapurami district, in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. It was also reported that the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) had carried out two attacks in Chhattisgarh’s Narayanpur district. Across the constituencies, there were hundreds of reports about electronic voting machines malfunctioning and some citizens were not on the ballot rolls.


Pakistan: Quetta

Sixteen dead and multiple injured following an explosion at Quetta’s Hazarganji

At least 16 people were killed and another 30 wounded following an explosion at a market in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta. The blast occurred at approximately 11:30 local time and targeted the city’s minority Hazara community. The Hazaras are a Shia Muslim minority who make up an important minority group in Pakistan and across the border in the Hazarajat region of Afghanistan, where they are the third largest ethnic group.

Buildings located nearby were also damaged in the explosion. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack; however, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group known to target the Hazara community, is believed to be responsible.

ADVICE: Terror groups in Pakistan maintain the ability to conduct attacks by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) or strategic armed assaults. There remains an underlying potential for low-profile terror attacks to be conducted on high profile targets. It is always recommended to maintain situational awareness and report any suspicious behaviour to local authorities.


Afghanistan: Nationwide

Taliban Spring Offensive 2019

In April, the Afghan Taliban announced the beginning of their 2019 spring offensive, with the leading operation being named ‘Victory’. The spring offensive is organised by the Military Commission of the Islamic Emirate which acts as a central headquarters for the Taliban’s guerrilla operations. The declaration of the new fighting season comes annually as the winter snow melts and allows the Taliban to gain control of district centres and target government facilities. Airstrikes have been launched against the Taliban in retaliation.

Since the clashes began, Taliban militants have overrun several checkpoints in the Bala Murghab district. The district came under intense insurgent pressure with officials claiming that five security points have fallen, and, if no reinforcements were deployed, the district would fall under Taliban rule. At least 21 soldiers have also been taken prisoner by insurgents during the attacks.

Violence has also erupted in northern province of Baghlan with several killed, 18 civilians injured, and a doctor killed when explosives were detonated at a health facility in Pul-i-Kumri City. The clashes have risen whilst Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy, is tasked with forging a peace deal with the Taliban. During his time in Afghanistan he spoke with national leaders and stakeholders. Khalilzad is expected to meet with Taliban and Afghan officials in the coming days in Qatar. Despite this, the Taliban have been refusing to meet with leaders. Since 2014, around 45,000 security forces have been killed. In previous offensives, both schools and community centres have been closed across Afghanistan following warnings over possible attacks.


Indonesia: Nationwide

General elections, 17 April

On 17 April, Indonesia will vote simultaneously for a new president and parliament. The incumbent President Joko Widodo, who is supported by the two largest parties, will stand for re-election alongside well-known Islamic figure Nahdatul Ulama. The choice of the incumbent to run with one of the most influential Muslim figures in Indonesia appears deliberate, since the previous presidential elections of 2014 saw his advantage greatly damaged by accusations questioning his religious beliefs and his stance towards China. His opponent will again be former General Prabowo Subianto, accompanied by former Jakarta deputy governor and business-man Sandiaga Uno as a running mate. Subianto is currently trailing in the polls with 32 percent against a 55 percent of the expected vote. Economic and religious concerns are the main issues faced by the two candidates, with growing worries over economic stability, inflation and, most dangerously, the rising populist sentiments along religious lines.

Indonesia has seen a rise in religious intolerance and terror-related incidents in recent times, culminating with a series of suicide attacks against Christian churches in May 2018 that prompted the introduction of a comprehensive anti-terrorism law. There is a possibility of militant groups trying to disrupt the vote or for violence to occur, especially against religious minorities in its aftermath. Individuals are advised to monitor local media for updates on the political situation. Avoid all demonstrations and gatherings, as well as openly discussing political matters in public. In-country travel disruption is possible as a result of the civil unrest and it is, therefore, recommended to allow additional transport times and be aware of alternate routes to minimise potential delays.


Thailand: Nationwide

Songkran festival, 13-15 April

The Songkran festival is the traditional Thai New Year’s Day and is celebrated from 13-15 April. Additional public holidays may be declared by the government depending on which days of the week the days of Songkran fall on. The most famous aspect of the Songkran celebrations is the throwing of water. As such, Songkran is often known as the Thai Water Festival. The custom originates from spring cleaning aspect of Songkran and part of the ritual was the cleaning of images of Buddha. Using the ‘blessed’ water that cleaned the images to soak other people is seen as a way of paying respect and bring good fortune.

ADVICE: As one of the largest celebrations in Thailand, Songkran celebrations attract hundreds of thousands of tourists. Large gatherings are anticipated notably in Khao San Road and Silom Road in Bangkok, Patong Beach in Phuket, and Thapae Gate in Chiang Mai. Police statistics show that during Songkran, traffic fatality rates increase. In-country travel disruption is possible, therefore it is recommended to allow additional transport times and be aware of alternate routes to minimise potential delays.

Significant Dates & Events

Date Country Event

Potential for Unrest

12 April Liberia National Redemption Day

MODERATE

13-16 April Asian Calendar Thingyan Water Festival

MODERATE

13-17 April Thailand Songkran Festival

MODERATE

13 April Venezuela  Military Reserve and National Mobilization Day

HIGH

14 April Bangladesh Bengali New Year

MODERATE

14-15 April Cambodia Cambodian New Year

LOW

14 April Honduras Pan American Day

LOW

14 April India Ambedkar Jayanti commemorations

MODERATE

15 April North Korea Kim Il-Sung’s Birthday

HIGH

15 April Puerto Rico Jose de Diego’s birthday

MODERATE

15 April United States Boston Marathon

LOW

17 April Brazil Anniversary of the massacre of El Dorado dos

MODERATE

17 April Gabon Women’s Day

MODERATE

17 April Indonesia Presidential and legislative elections

MODERATE

17 April India Mahavir Jayanthi

MODERATE

17 April Syria

Independence Day

HIGH

18 April Zimbabwe Independence Day

HIGH

19 April Eswatini King Mswati III’s birthday

LOW

19 April South Africa Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town

MODERATE

19 April Uruguay Public Holiday

MODERATE

19 April United States Anniversary of the terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City (1995)

LOW