Global Security Forecast – Week 20
GLOBAL HEADLINESPakistan Gunmen attack five-star hotel in Balochistan On 11 May, three gunmen attacked the Pearl Continental hotel in the city of Gwadar, Balochistan, killing three members of staff and two security officers, and wounding at least six others. Following an eight-hour shootout with Pakistan security forces, all the gunmen were killed. A police spokesman said that only staff were in the hotel at the time of the attack. In addition to this, local sources reported that following this incident, a military operation was conducted to defuse explosive devices left behind by the attackers. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), one of the insurgent groups fighting in Balochistan, claimed responsibility for the attack. Solace Global Comment: Gwadar is the site of a large port under construction by a Chinese company as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, Gwadar will link China to the Middle East. This has prompted discontent that has recently developed into episodes of violence, particularly from separatists who have long claimed that residents are not receiving benefits from this project. The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) has targeted Chinese workers in the region on multiple occasions. In November 2018, four people were killed in an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi. Further related attacks are possible in the near term.
Papua New Guinea Tsunami warning issued following magnitude 7.7 earthquake On 14 May, The United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the Papua New Guinea island of New Britain. The tremor was centred around 28 kilometres northeast of the town of Kokopo and struck at a depth of 10 kilometres. The earthquake had triggered a tsunami alert for Papua New Guinea and the nearby Solomon Islands. No reports of infrastructure damage have emerged from the area and the tsunami warning was subsequently lifted. Solace Global Comment: Papua New Guinea is located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and earthquakes occur regularly in the region due to its location on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’; a hotspot for seismic and volcanic activity due to the friction between tectonic plates. Official statistics show that along the South Solomon trench, an area of the Pacific that includes Papua New Guinea, there have been more than a dozen quakes of magnitude 7.5 or more recorded since 1900.
West Bank and Gaza At least 70 injured in protest along the security fence Health Ministry officials have reported that at least 70 Palestinians have been injured by IDF (Israeli Defence Force) soldiers firing along the border between Gaza and Israel during afternoon hours local time on 15 May. Thousands of Palestinians congregated at the border to mark Nakba Day, the 71st anniversary since the displacement of Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948. Local sources reported that rioters burnt tyres and sent incendiary devices into southern Israel, starting at least nine fires. Advice: Further clashes are highly likely over the coming days and a heightened security presence is expected along the Gaza-Israel security fence. Travel to the Israeli-Gaza border region should only be undertaken if required.
United Arab Emirates Alleged sabotage incident targets tankers off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates On 12 May, four tankers were reportedly attacked near the port of Fujairah in the Gulf of Oman. The incident took place at around 06:00 local time and targeted two Saudi flagged vessels, a UAE flagged vessel and a Norwegian oil tanker. The perpetrator of the attacks remains unclear at this time; with investigations ongoing. The United States has alleged that Iran, or Iranian backed proxies, may have been behind the incident. However, no claims of responsibility or official announcement are available at this time. For more, please read our Maritime Brief on the incident: https://www.solaceglobal.com//news/2019/05/14/fujairah-maritime-brief/
Saudi Arabia Drones allegedly target Saudi oil infrastructure On 14 May, two days after the Fujairah incident, unidentified drones allegedly targeted the major east-west oil pipeline deep in Saudi Arabia. The attack is understood to have resulted in some light damage to the pipeline and was immediately claimed by the Iranian backed Houthis fighting in Yemen. As a result of the attack, Saudi Arabian aircraft carried out airstrikes on Houthi controlled Sana’a in Yemen. The pipeline is vital to Saudi Arabia; allowing the kingdom to transport oil and gas from the eastern oilfields to the Red Sea port of Yanbu. This allows Saudi Arabia to bypass the Persian Gulf ports and the Strait of Hormuz when exporting oil. Solace Global Comment: The attack was the third known incident in a series of attacks on oil infrastructure in the Arabian Peninsula. All the attacks have targeted infrastructure outside of the Persian Gulf; on 1 May an explosion or fire allegedly occurred at the port of Yanbu’s oil processing facility, this was followed by the 12 May and 14 May incidents in Fujairah and on the oil pipeline. All three of the attacks targeted ports and facilities within striking distance of Yemen; which would seem to back the hypotheses and claim that Houthis are behind at least some of the attacks. One important note, however, is that all the facilities targeted (Yanbu, Fujairah and the east-west oil pipeline) have all been oil facilities that allow tankers and companies to bypass the Strait of Hormuz. The strait is a vital choke point – being just over 50km wide – and access can easily be restricted or even stopped through the strait should Iran or another regional power decide to attempt it; a threat Iran has made. Given that these attacks also coincide with a ratcheting up of the tensions between Iran and the US, a scaling down of the east-west oil pipeline and the ports outside the Persian Gulf would see an increase in oil tanker traffic through the strait; increasing the risk from a blockade.
Burkina Faso Six killed in church attack in Dablo On 12 May, at least six people including a priest were killed after gunmen stormed a church in Dablo, Sanmatenga province. The church was then set alight along with several vehicles and nearby buildings. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the attackers were between 20 and 30 in number. There was also an attack on a Roman Catholic procession on 13 May which resulted in four deaths. Schools and health centres have closed because of the violence, and the continuing insecurity and lack of funding are hampering the humanitarian response. Schools and health centres in the region have closed as a resulted of the violence. Militants associated with Jihadist groups that include Ansarul Islam, the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and the Islamic State in the Great Sahara (EIGS) have been blamed for a number of attacks in recent years. In relation to this, the number of deadly terrorist attacks in Burkina Faso have been escalating since 2016, and this is the third attack on a church in five weeks. In April 2019, gunmen targeted a Protestant church in Silgadji, six people were killed in the attack.
Indonesia Heightened security and arrests ahead of election results Indonesia successfully held combined presidential and legislative elections on 17 April, in the biggest single-day election worldwide. The early election results are showing a victory by incumbent President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, against the historical rival from the previous 2014 election, former General Prabowo Subianto; but the authorities will officially announce the results on 22 May. Although many independent observers and analysts have said the elections were fair, the opposition leader Prabowo has refused the defeat and made accusations of irregularities in the voting counting process, calling for supporters to rally in the streets on the day of the announcement. On 15 May, at least 10 people were arrested on suspicion of planning attacks during next week’s announcement of the result. Further intelligence reports indicate a risk of militant groups setting off bombs during the street protests. As tensions run high, security measures have been escalated and nearly 32,000 police and military personnel are on standby in the capital Jakarta. Police will also set up security cordons around all government buildings and independent institutions involved in the electoral process. It is highly recommended to avoid gatherings, government and military buildings. All non-critical travel to Jakarta should be avoided if possible. For more information on past and upcoming elections, consult our Global Election Review available here: https://www.solaceglobal.com//wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Global-Election-Review-Solace-Global-May-2019-1.pdf
European Union European Parliament elections 23-26 May Elections to the European Parliament will take place between 23-26 May 2019 to elect the current 751 MPs. The political debate will likely centre around topics related to immigration, Brexit, and environmental concerns. A key issue is also the European Union, especially in relation to the widespread rise of right-wing parties within the political scene of a number of nations that include Poland and Hungary. National political parties are linked to alliances who in turn choose candidates for the role of Commission President in a process known as Spitzenkandidat. Solace Global Comment: There are no pan-European polls for the European elections, with national polls being used to project seats instead. This has been coupled with the late inclusion of the United Kingdom, making predicting a likely winner very difficult. It is widely expected that the two main alliances, the European People’s Party and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, will lose seats. Overall, it remains unlikely that the elections will result in violent unrest, but political rallies are to be expected, particularly in London and possibly Paris, depending on the evolution of the Yellow Vest movement.
SIGNIFICANT DATES & EVENTS
|Date||Country||Event||Potential for Unrest|
|18 May||India||Anniversary of 2007 bombing of Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad||MODERATE|
|18 May||India||Vesak Day (Buddhist holiday)||LOW|
|18 May||Somalia||Independence Day in Somaliland||HIGH|
|18 May||Turkmenistan||Constitution Day||LOW|
|19 May||Singapore||Vesak Day (Buddhist holiday)||LOW|
|19 May||Turkey||Ataturk Commemoration and Youth and Sports Day||LOW|
|20 May||Cameroon||National Holiday||MODERATE|
|20 May||Canada||Victoria Day||LOW|
|20 May||Cayman Islands||Discovery Day||LOW|
|20 May||Timor-Leste||Independence Restoration Day (Public holiday)||LOW|
|21 May||Malawi||National Elections||LOW|
|21 May||Montenegro||Independence Day||LOW|
|22 May||Yemen||National Unity Day||HIGH|
|23 May||Macedonia||Vlach’s National Day||LOW|
|24 May||Belize||Sovereign’s Day (Commonwealth Day)||LOW|
|24 May||Bermuda||Bermuda Day||LOW|
|24 May||Bulgaria/Macedonia||Saints Cyril and Methodius Day||LOW|
|24 May||Ecuador||Battle of Pichincha Day||LOW|
|24 May||Eritrea||Independence Day||MODERATE|
|25 May||Africa||Africa Day||MODERATE|
|25 May||Argentina||Anniversary of 1810 Revolution||MODERATE|
|25 May||Jordan||Independence Day||MODERATE|