Slovak Leader Fico Survives Assassination Attempt

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is in a serious but stable condition following a suspected assassination attempt. The attack occurred on May 15 in the small town of Handlova, where Fico was meeting supporters outside a cultural centre. He was shot multiple times and immediately rushed to F. D. Roosevelt University Hospital in Banska Bystrica. After undergoing a five-hour surgery, he is currently in intensive care.

The alleged suspect, a 71-year-old writer and political activist, was detained at the scene. Authorities are investigating the motive behind the attack, which is widely believed to be politically motivated.

Fico, who secured office in October 2023 after a divisive campaign, has been a polarising figure. He is one of the few European leaders advocating for closer ties with Russia and has called for an end to the EU’s military support for Ukraine. Under his leadership, Slovakia has halted all arms deliveries to Kyiv.

Fico’s government has made controversial moves, including a proposal to abolish the country’s public broadcaster and weaken anti-corruption laws. These actions have sparked fears about media independence and democracy in Slovakia, leading to widespread protests. Some believe these tensions contributed to the assassination attempt, with Fico’s ruling SMER party blaming false narratives from the opposition.

The attack on Prime Minister Fico is expected to lead to heightened security measures across Slovakia. In the long term, this incident might be used to justify suppressing dissent and pushing through more contentious government proposals. Additionally, Russian-affiliated social media accounts have been spreading information suggesting Ukrainian or NATO involvement, with some posts inciting violence against European officials.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has hinted that the attack could be linked to Fico’s stance on Russia. While the risk of terrorism in Slovakia remains low, there is a realistic possibility of targeted violence and harassment against pro-EU Slovakian officials in the coming weeks.


2024 Intelligence Forecast: The Populist Wave and Polarisation in Europe in 2024

The rise of both far-right and far-left political parties in Europe in recent years has significantly complicated and energised the political landscape in the continent. This trend is expected to persist into 2024.

Nakba Day 2024

Anticipated Disruption Across North Africa, Europe and North America

Intelligence cut off time 10:00 GMT 14th of May 2024

This Wednesday, May 15, commemorates the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, an Arabic term meaning “catastrophe.” It signifies the expulsion and forced displacement of around 750,000 Palestinian Arabs during the 1947-1949 Palestine War, following the adoption of the UN’s Partition Plan for Palestine, which ended British mandate rule over the territory. This event is profoundly significant historically, marking the onset of the Palestinian diaspora and a pivotal moment in the formation of Palestinian national identity, which persists nearly a century later.

This year, the significance of the commemoration will be amplified due to the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip. The conflict has reached a critical juncture, especially with the recent deployment of Israeli troops into Rafah on May 6th. The conflict, which followed a surprise attack launched by the Gaza Strip-based Hamas terror group on 7 October, and resulted in the killing of approximately 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, has entered its seventh month. During this time, over 35,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have lost their lives, and nearly two million have been displaced internally. Gaza is grappling with severe famine, a near-total collapse of infrastructure, and extensive destruction of local housing.

This year’s Nakba Day is expected to spark extensive protests and disruptions, especially in North Africa, Europe, and North America. While some events may be sanctioned by authorities or even state-sponsored, there’s a significant risk of clashes with security forces. In regions with substantial pro-Israel support, tensions may escalate between pro-Palestine demonstrators and counter-protesters, potentially leading to property damage targeting individuals associated with either side.

Universities are expected to be significant focal points for civil unrest. Across the globe, student occupations and protests authority have occurred in various academic institutions, notably in France, the United States, and the Netherlands. In Tel Aviv, authorities recently prohibited a planned Nakba commemoration event, potentially triggering anti-government demonstrations and clashes in the city. Student movements, while typically localised, can disrupt city centres in major urban areas.

The risk of terrorism, particularly from self-radicalised individuals or “lone wolves,” presents a significant threat, especially in densely populated urban areas. These lone actors may target large gatherings or individuals and locations with simple weapons like knives or occasionally light firearms. Vehicle attacks are also a possibility, although their effectiveness varies due to anti-vehicle barriers in many city centres.

While organised terror group attacks are less common, they are not impossible. For instance, in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 7th, a Jewish businessman was killed by a group named ‘Vanguards of the Liberation – the Martyrs of Mohamed Salah’, linked to an incident involving an Egyptian police officer killing three Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers in 2023. Attacks by groups are often more sophisticated and may involve improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but they also have a higher chance of being thwarted by authorities compared to lone wolf attacks.

Nakba Day-related disruptions are expected to primarily impact large urban centres in countries that have seen significant pro-Palestine protests. These disruptions are likely to concentrate around government or academic institutions, limiting their scope. Avoiding these areas unless necessary should mitigate physical risks.

However, traffic disruptions, potentially affecting various modes of transportation, are less predictable and could have more widespread effects. While disruptions to airports and seaports are unlikely, protesters may attempt to block roads, particularly around targeted buildings and main traffic arteries leading into urban centres. Even brief disruptions could have lasting effects throughout the day.

To minimise such risks, it’s recommended to schedule travel outside of rush hour and to plan entry into large cities prone to protests for early morning hours. If traveling through city centres is unavoidable, consider alternative routes away from likely protest areas and avoid public transportation.

It’s crucial to stay informed through official channels regarding potential protests, disruptions, and violence. Familiarise yourself with local emergency contacts, including nearby police stations and emergency rooms. When planning business operations, establish clear communication procedures such as two-way messaging networks and GPS tracking to reduce risks to people and assets.

Additionally, having failover systems and strategic redundancies in place can mitigate the impact of severe localised disruptions on primary business operations, although such scenarios are unlikely.

Solace Global Risk is a leading provider of comprehensive risk management solutions, serving clients globally with a commitment to excellence. Our team of seasoned experts, empowers organisations to navigate complex risk landscapes with confidence and resilience.

Journey Risk Management

Your duty of care doesn’t end the moment your people set foot in their destination – and neither does ours.

From transfers to ongoing security and emergency evacuations, our travel risk services always have you covered. 

Arm yourself with the knowledge to avoid a potential threat from turning into a crisis. Intelligence advisories give you tailored reports to anticipate possible disruptions, mitigate risk and help you make well-informed decisions, faster.

Give your people peace of mind when they travel for work, so they remain focused on the job at hand. We mitigate risks, manage incidents if they occur, and support your people with security advice or help in a crisis. 

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    US Expansion for Solace Global Risk

    Solace Global Risk announces further expansion into the United States market and proudly appoints Brent Borawski as Vice President of Sales and Business Strategy.

    Brent Borawski - Solace Global Headshot

    Brent Borawski brings 25 years of invaluable experience in the Insurance and Risk Management sector and has already seen a surge in requests from US organizations that require a more tailored approach to risk management.

    Brent comments that “Many organizations are rightfully asking ‘what happens if we are impacted, and are we truly ready to react in a crisis?’

    He goes on to say “The sentiment amongst leaders in security is shifting…

    …Resources and budgets are tightening, all while requirements increase due to higher levels of global instability. Now many are assessing whether their current suppliers are providing the best value and innovative technology that truly align with their processes.

    Gone are the days when integrating a platform is simply a box-ticking exercise for duty of care obligations. Clients expect a better level of service and have the assurance providers can go the extra mile in a crisis.”

    This strategic move marks a significant milestone for Solace Global Risk and underscores its unwavering commitment to delivering exceptional customer service that surpasses expectations.

    Emily Roberts Managing Director Solace Global Risk

    Emily Roberts

    Managing Director, Solace Global Risk

    “We are thrilled to bring Solace’s unique vision and solutions to the US market.

    With 14 years of experience serving clients across various industries, we have witnessed firsthand the increasing demand for tailored solutions to mitigate risks and ensure business continuity. Our entry into the US market underscores our commitment to meeting the unique needs of American businesses by providing innovative, client-focused risk management services. 

    Whether you are navigating geopolitical uncertainties, ensuring the safety of your personnel during travel, or safeguarding your assets against emerging threats, Solace Global is here to support you every step of the way. 

    We are poised to collaborate and provide expertise to US-based organizations seeking advanced risk management solutions and unparalleled support.”

    Solace Global Risk is a leading provider of comprehensive risk management solutions, serving clients globally with a commitment to excellence. With a dedicated US presence and a team of seasoned experts, Solace Global Risk empowers organisations to navigate complex risk landscapes with confidence and resilience.

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      Announcement from Solace Global

      It is with great sadness that we confirm that seven humanitarian aid workers, including three security personnel from Solace Global, were tragically killed on Monday evening following a strike on World Central Kitchen’s humanitarian mission, delivering food aid to those in need in Gaza. 

      Words cannot express the depth of sympathy that we feel for the families, friends, colleagues and loved ones of those who died. We are working closely to support them at this difficult time. 

      We are humbled by the bravery of the men and women working in such complex environments to deliver vital aid, and pay tribute to those that lost their lives on Monday. Those who knew John, James and James have expressed pride for them enabling humanitarian efforts. 

      We are committed to supporting the families and loved ones of those who died, and remain dedicated to the continuation of services for all of our clients.

      Solace Global at ASIS Europe 2024

      We are excited to announce that we will be exhibiting at ASIS Europe 2024 in Vienna, where we will be showcasing our risk management solutions aimed at navigating the complexities of today’s global security landscape and building business resilience.

      We are excited to exhibit alongside top security firms and engage with esteemed professionals and emerging leaders in the industry.

      Visit our stand B8 to connect with our experts, learn more about our industry leading risk management platform, Solace Secure, and find out how Solace Global can help you strengthen your business resilience.

      Event details


      March 21-22, 2024


      Vienna, Austria

      Emily Roberts Managing Director Solace Global Risk

      Emily Roberts

      Managing Director, Solace Global Risk

      “In a world marked by geopolitical uncertainties and evolving threats, it’s imperative for businesses to prioritise resilience. This means not only having robust security measures in place but also the agility to adapt and respond swiftly to emerging challenges. At Solace Global, we recognise the growing demand from European organisations for comprehensive security solutions tailored to their specific needs.”

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      Share your details below and we’ll get in touch to book a timeslot during the event.

        Alert Plus: US and UK launch air strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen

        Current Situation of US and UK air strikes in Yemen

        Intelligence cut off time 15:00 GMT 12th of January 2024

        On the 11-12 January, US and UK aircraft and warships conducted at least 70 strikes on multiple military targets in Houthi-controlled Yemen. Reports indicate that over 100 precision guided munitions were fired on at least 16 Houthi locations. This includes a military base adjacent to Sanaa airport, a military site near Taiz airport, a Houthi naval base in Hodeidah and military sites in Hajjah governorate. Houthi’s stated that five of the group’s fighters were killed in the strikes with six others wounded.

        The US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, released a statement indicating that targeted strikes were conducted on sites associated with unmanned aerial vehicle’s (UAV), ballistic and cruise missiles, and coastal radar and air surveillance capabilities.

        Majority of the firepower came from US jets, with the US having the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower already in the Red Sea, as well as air bases in the region. US Navy warships also fired Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles (LACMs), which are GPS-guided and can be programmed to fly evasively. The UK contributed by sending four RAF Typhoons from Akrotiri, Cyprus, carrying Paveway IV guided bombs.

        Map of US and UK Air Strikes against Houthi's in Yemen January 2024
        Map of US and UK Air Strikes against Houthi’s in Yemen

        In response, the Houthis have stated that they are not deterred by the attacks. The group’s leader, Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, stated that the US and UK would “soon realise” the action was “the greatest folly in their history”. Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad responded by saying that the strikes show Washington and London’s support for Tel Aviv and that the West are now responsible for the subsequent impact on the region’s security. Iran also responded forcefully, expressing that the strikes were a breach of international laws. Saudi Arabia and Jordan did not condemn the attacks but did call for restraint. Several Western nations supported the operation as an attempt to restore the free flow of trade and deter further Houthi attacks.

        Who is Behind The Houthi Movement?

        The Houthi Movement is an Iranian aligned group that controls much of Yemen after nearly a decade of civil war against a Western-backed and Saudi-led coalition. The two sides are currently observing a tentative ceasefire that officially ended in late 2022 but has remained in place to the current day.

        Following the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict, the Houthi’s emerged as a strong supporter of the Palestinian Islamist group. The Houthis began attacks on shipping between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in December 2023, claiming to target vessels linked to Israeli persons, businesses, and interests.

        However, this route, which links Europe and Asia and Africa via the Suez Canal, accounts for roughly 15 percent of the world’s shipping traffic. The attacks have forced some shipping companies to limit transits through the waterway, or even cease operations altogether, instead taking the longer route around southern Africa. This has significantly disrupted international commerce, increasing delivery costs and time, stoking fears about a global inflation.

        In response to the Houthi attacks, the US launched Operation Prosperity Guardian alongside several allies, which aimed to end the blockade and counter all threats by Houthi forces against international maritime trade. The operation was defensive in nature, destroying only missiles launched at vessels with no pro-active strikes conducted. The Houthis continued to fire at merchant vessels, as well as allied naval vessels, dismissing warnings from Washington and London. Then on 9 January, US and British warships shot down 21 drones and missiles, repelling the largest Houthi attack so far.

        How will UK and US airstrikes in Yemen affect global stability?

        It is highly likely that the Houthi’s largest attack to date on 9 January was the trigger that surpassed the US-UK threshold. While international prices have yet to see a significant impact, Operation Prosperity Guardian was not working as a deterrent. It is highly likely that more extensive, continued Houthi action would force more merchant vessels away from the Red Sea, almost certainly disrupting maritime trade, therefore increasing consumer prices and shortages.

        In the immediate aftermath, the Houthi’s are highly likely to increase their attacks on commercial and military vessels in the region in retaliation. However, it is likely that their ability to launch missiles and drones has been degraded. Should the Houthis sustain their attacks, it is almost certain that the US and UK will continue their strikes on targets within Yemen. It is also highly likely that the group will be re-designated as a terrorist organisation if they continue. This would have a significant impact on the peace process to end the Yemeni Civil War between the Houthi’s and the Saudi-led coalition, which has continued to progress despite regional tensions.

        A breakdown of the process would almost certainly see a resumption of hostilities between the two sides, with locations within Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates likely becoming viable targets for the Houthi’s as evidenced by their previous attacks.

        Across the Middle East, it is highly likely that Houthi’s allies and other Iranian proxies start to act in solidarity with the group. These groups will almost certainly view the attacks as Western support for Israel.

        It is almost certain that Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) in Iraq and Syria will continue to target US military bases across the region. It is also likely that the frequency and scale of these attacks will increase considerably. There is a realistic possibility that US military locations that have not been targeted yet in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, are targeted.

        Hezbollah will likely continue to focus its attacks on Israel, however an attack on the US cannot be ruled out. While still unlikely, the US and UK strikes on Yemen have increased the likelihood of a wider conflict developing in the Middle East, as well as the West entering a proxy war with Iran. This eventuality would highly likely take focus away from the conflict in Gaza, almost certainly intensifying the humanitarian situation.

        Travel Risk Advice

        • Avoid all non-essential travel to Yemen.
        • Anyone operating in the region should monitor events from a reliable source in case of a major escalation.
        • Key military and political infrastructure inside Sana’a are very likely to remain focal points for violence and demonstrations. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice from the local security authorities.
        • Avoid US and UK embassies or consulates across the region as these will likely be the epicentres for demonstrations.
        • If air-raid or rocket warning sirens are sounded, seek secure shelter immediately, ideally in a purpose-built shelter. If in a building when sirens are sounded, head to a secure room, stairwell or inner room. Close all windows and doors, stay in shelter for ten minutes after the siren ends.
        • If hostilities resume between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, key civilian and military installations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE will likely become targets. Avoid these locations if not essential.
        • Previous Houthi attacks have targeted major airports. Ensure alternative travel plans have been prepared for, as well as all individuals having comprehensive travel insurance.
        • Mariners in the region should proceed with extreme caution, maintaining contact with port and shipping authorities at all times.
        • Always follow all instructions and orders from security forces. ​Where possible, avoid areas of active conflict and remain inside a secure location away from windows.
        • Ensure that you always carry personal identification documents. Consider making photocopies of important documents in case of confiscation, theft or loss.Keep these documents separated from the originals.​​
        • Have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone. These should include the local authorities, medical facilities and any consular support. Ensure that mobile phones are charged in case of any losses in electricity.
        • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place. 
        • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and trusted local media for relevant updates.

        More on the recent activity in the region

        Houthi Attacks in the Red Sea

        Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, the Houthi Movement has supported the Palestinian cause by targeting southern Israel directly and Israeli-linked vessels on shipping routes in the Gulf of Aden, Red Sea, and the Bab-al-Mandeb.

        Houthi Seizure of Merchant Vessel Galaxy Leader

        In a brazen incident on 19 November, the Galaxy Leader, a Bahamian-flagged and Japanese-operated merchant vessel (IMO: 9237307), fell victim to suspected Houthi Movement militants in the Southern Red Sea.

        Israel-Hamas War 2023

        With the incursion into southern Israel by the Gaza-based militant group Hamas over the weekend of 7 and 8 October, this eventuality became a reality, and the region is now on the precipice of a protracted and deadly conflict.

        Speak to our team about your journey management needs

          Security in Dubai, UAE and COP28 Climate Change Summit

          The United Nations Climate Change Summit, COP28 will be hosted in Dubai at the end of the month to bring together global leaders in an effort to take action against climate change.

          The Middle East, with its vast energy resources, intricate alliances, and ongoing conflicts, plays a crucial role in the global energy landscape, and the consequences of regional conflicts and geopolitical dynamics in the area have far-reaching implications for the world’s environmental and sustainability goals.

          However, in addition to the long-standing geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the Israel-Hamas war holds the potential to heighten tensions and detract from the success of this summit, with the likely possibility of an increasing security risk to Westerners travelling to Dubai.

          In this article:

          Security factors during COP28 in Dubai

          Many Israeli climate organisations have stated that they will boycott COP28 and it is highly likely that Israel will be forced to withdraw from COP28 entirely due to security concerns.

          However, COP28 will still attract thousands of Westerners, including many world leaders, diplomats and influential businesspeople. It is likely that COP28 represents an attractive target for terrorist actors due to the influx of foreigners and the international publicity of the event.

          On 29 October, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) issued a warning for British tourists visiting the United Arab Emirates (UAE), indicating an increased threat of terrorist attacks. The advisory warns of a very likely risk of terrorist attacks, which could be indiscriminate and may target places frequented by foreigners. While terror attacks within the UAE and rare and the Emirati counter-terrorist forces are heavily financed and well-trained, there is a realistic possibility that forces will be overstretched as a result of COP28 and that self-radicalisation within the region will increase as a result of the situation in the Gaza Strip.

          Background on Houthi Movement in Yemen

          In 2004, the Iranian-backed Houthi Movement, otherwise known as Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), rebelled against the Yemeni government with the aspiration of taking control over the entirety of Yemen. The conflict escalated in 2014 when Houthi forces seized Yemen’s capital, Sanna, and forced the Yemeni government into exile. This led to the deployment of a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 that seeks to establish full territorial control by the internationally recognised government within Yemen.

          The Saudi-led coalition consists of predominantly Sunni and Arab nations such as the UAE, and is backed by Western powers including the USA, UK and France.

          UAE’s involvement in the Yemen conflict

          The UAE’s involvement in the coalition has involved a range of military and logistical support for the government of Yemen, including air strikes, the deployment of troops to Yemen and training local Yemeni militias allied to government forces.

          The UAE’s involvement in the conflict has made it a target for Houthi forces who have developed an arsenal of long-range drones and missiles facilitated by Iran. Houthi forces have conducted numerous drone and missile attacks on the UAE, typically targeting strategic locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, such as airports, ports and oil facilities.

          Since 2019, the UAE has significantly reduced its military footprint in Yemen, however it still projects power through its support of a number of militias allied to Yemeni government forces. The Houthis have conducted attacks on the UAE in response to successful military operations by pro-government militias supported by Abu Dhabi, which resulted in a series of high-profile attacks in 2022 against high-profile targets in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

          While the UAE maintains a sophisticated air-defence capability and has been able to shoot down the majority of projectiles within its airspace, it is likely that the Houthis have sufficient drones and missiles to overwhelm and penetrate UAE air defence.

          The Houthi Movement have currently been in talks with Saudi Arabia and other local actors regarding a ceasefire.

          Potential for further destabilisation triggered by the Israel-Hamas War?

          There is a realistic possibility that the Israel-Hamas war destabilises the Middle East, and Iran exploits the situation to order its proxy forces to attack Israeli, Western and anti-Iranian forces and interests throughout the region.

          Houthi forces have attempted drone and missile attacks on Israel in response to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) military activity in the Gaza Strip, with all attacks to date intercepted by IDF or US air defence.

          There is a realistic possibility that both Saudi and the UAE will be forced to respond to Houthi attacks which will invariably provoke retaliatory attacks from the Houthis. Moreover, there is also a realistic possibility that the Houthi rebels might seek to exploit the current situation in the Middle East to conduct attacks on the UAE.

          In the event of a wider conflict involving Israel, the Houthi rebels could exploit regional tensions to launch missile and drone attacks, engage in cyber warfare, and employ asymmetric tactics against the UAE, aiming to distract or pressure the UAE due to its involvement in regional security initiatives and the Saudi-led coalition.

          A further motivation for the Houthis, who are backed by Iran and reportedly allied to Hezbollah, would be to present themselves as defenders of the Palestinian cause and target the UAE for its recent normalisation of relations with Israel and ties to the West.

          Potential outcomes for security in Dubai and UAE

          If the Israel-Hamas conflict is not contained and provokes a US retaliation, the Supreme Leader of the Houthi Movement has issued a statement declaring that they will respond with drones and missiles, and with the Al Dhafra Air Base located just to the south of Abu Dhabi, it is highly likely that Houthi forces will attempt to target the US military and US interests within the UAE.

          For those travelling on business to UAE or will be attending COP28, Solace Global Risk facilitate safer travel for corporate travellers, executives and private clients, with travel risk assessments and end-to-end secure journey management.

          Security solutions include intelligence and advisory, latest security alerts through Solace Secure, security trained drivers and airport meet and greet.

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            Israel’s Military Strategy and Biden’s Visit

            Current Assessment of Israel Hamas Conflict

            Intelligence cut-off time 11:00 GMT 17th of October 2023

            Whilst it remains almost certain that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) will commit to a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, this is unlikely to occur within the next 24-48 hours.

            The main factor contributing to the postponement is the recent revelation of President Biden’s visit to Israel for discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday 18 October. It is highly unlikely that the US will sponsor an IDF invasion while President Biden is within Israel due to the threat associated with Hezbollah retaliation from Lebanon, which will almost certainly be backed by the Iranian regime, or from one of the other militant groups operating out of the West Bank. It is estimated that Hezbollah alone has amassed a stock of over 150,000 rockets. While most of these rockets are crude and unguided munitions that range out only to 10-40km, Hezbollah also maintain a stock of more sophisticated Iranian-derived rocket and missile systems such as the Fateh-110 (250-300km), SCUD-B/C/D (300-550km) and the Zelzal 1/2 ballistic missiles (125-250km). Such weapon systems enable Hezbollah to target high-value targets such as Ben Gurion airport with a high degree of accuracy. While it is expected that Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system will detect and intercept the majority of rockets, there is a realistic possibility that Hezbollah could launch missile and rocket salvos large enough to overwhelm the air defence system.

            Given the missile and rocket threat posed by Hezbollah and the fact Hamas have now likely fired the majority of their rockets, there is a realistic possibility that the IDF will be forced to reposition mobile elements of its Iron Dome system to counter the emerging threat in the north.

            Iran’s Involvement with Israel Hamas Conflict

            Iran has warned that its proxy forces will conduct “pre-emptive action” in response to Israel’s retaliatory strikes on Gaza, which will invariably include the use of Hezbollah forces. However, it is unlikely that Hezbollah will conduct any major attacks with President Biden in Israel for fear of a major US retaliation.

            Moreover, it is more likely that Hezbollah and Iran will wait until Israel commits forces to Gaza as the IDF will have a considerable amount of its forces fixed in the south, offering a tactically advantageous position to open up a northern front that will almost certainly stretch IDF forces and complicate Israeli re-supply and sustainment. To counter Iran and its proxies’ threats, the US has moved its USS Gerald Ford led Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12 into the Eastern Mediterranean and has deployed a second CSG led by the USS Eisenhower to the Mediterranean which is currently in the eastern Atlantic and is expected to enter the eastern Mediterranean in the next couple of days. The combined combat power of two US CSGs will provide Israel with overwhelming air superiority should the US enter into a conflict with Israel, with warnings already issued to Iran that the US will engage Iranian proxy forces. It is highly likely that Israel will delay a ground offensive until the USS Eisenhower is positioned in the eastern Mediterranean.

            Expectations for Biden’s Visit to Israel

            It is expected that Biden will discuss with Netanyahu the evacuation of civilians from the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. It is likely that Biden will demand that a humanitarian corridor is established before IDF forces enter Gaza, with Biden also forecasted to visit Egypt where he will likely use diplomatic pressure to demand the same from Egypt. It is likely that the IDF will want to commit forces sooner rather than later as any delay will afford Hamas and other militants to prepare defensive positions and mobilise forces. However, Israel is hugely dependent on US military aid which currently stands at approximately USD 4 billion per annum. It is unlikely that Israel has weapon stocks high enough to sustain military operations whilst maintaining enough weaponry to counter Hezbollah or deal with a wider conflict. Therefore, it is likely that Israel will have to submit to US requests in order to guarantee the delivery of future military aid and will not commit to a ground offensive until Biden has some reassurances from Tel Aviv.

            Alternative Analysis

            Hezbollah, under orders from Iran will launch a pre-emptive attack on Israel prior to the arrival of President Biden. Such a move will provoke Israel into retaliating and committing to a ground offensive in Gaza before the Rafah crossing is opened and civilians are evacuated, causing an acute humanitarian crisis. This will undoubtedly provoke much international condemnation, resulting in anti-Israeli protests and rhetoric and potentially force the West to temper its support of Israel.

            Solace Global Security Within Israel

            Whether you are considering an evacuation or seeking to continue operations while ensuring the safety of your team, we are here to assist.

            For those seeking a secure exit from Israel, Solace Global offers comprehensive journey management services:

            • Private Charter Flights: Flight options are available to various destinations across Europe.
            • Secure Ground Transportation: Secure movement within Israel, ensuring access to open land borders and maritime evacuation points.
            • Armed or unarmed English-speaking security-trained drivers, Close Protection Officers (CPOs), and discreet, low-profile vehicles at your disposal.

            Military Coup in Gabon August 2023

            Summary of Military Coup in Gabon

            In the early hours of 30 August, the Gabonese Election Centre (CGE) announced that President Ali Bongo had won a third term in office, having received 64.27 percent vote share in Saturday’s general election. However, just after 05:00 local time, a group of senior officers from the Gabonese military announced on television channel, Gabon 24, that they had seized power with the full support of the Gabonese security and defence forces.​

            Introducing themselves as members of The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, the officials stated that the election results were cancelled, all borders were closed until further notice and state institutions – the government, the senate, the national assembly, the constitutional court and the election body – were dissolved. ​

            Following the announcement, domestic and regional sources reported gunfire could be heard in the capital Libreville. However, as the day progressed, the streets appeared calm, and crowds of  citizens peacefully took to the streets. Videos circulating on social media showed multiple instances of people celebrating and cheering, often in close proximity to the country’s armed forces. So far, there has been no signs of widespread protest or alarm. Several hours after the officers’ announcement, internet access also appeared to be restored for the first time since Saturday’s vote. ​

            The Gabonese government has yet to make an official statement, with President Bongo reportedly under house arrest, surrounded by his family and doctors.​

            Potential for Political Unrest in Gabon

            Ahead of the coup, there was significant concern over potential unrest following Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and legislative elections that the opposition alleged were plagued by fraud. Questions over the election’s transparency were re-enforced by the lack of international observers, the suspension of foreign media broadcasts, the decision to cut internet service, and the imposing of a nationwide curfew.​

            President Ali Bongo and his father, Omar Bongo, have ruled Gabon since 1967, but frustrations with the political dynasty had been growing for several years ahead of Saturday’s election. The Central African nation is a major oil producer, so much so that it is a member of OPEC, as well as being a major exporter of uranium and magnesium. Indeed, the country is home to over one-quarter of the world’s proven magnesium reserves. However, Bongo has done little to channel its oil and other wealth towards the population of some 2.3 million people, a third of whom live in poverty. ​

            This is also not the first attempt in recent history to overthrow Bongo as in January 2019 he and the Gabonese government were able to foil an attempted military coup after soldiers briefly seized the state radio station and broadcasted a message saying Bongo, who had suffered a stroke months earlier, was no longer fit for office.

            Find further analysis on political instability in West Africa

            Situation Analysis by Solace Global

            The strength of Gabon’s extractive-based economy means that it is Africa’s third most wealthy country by GDP per capita. However, with large swathes of the country still living in poverty, it is highly likely that the state has failed to transfer much of this wealth to ordinary citizens. It is likely that economic disparities have been one of the major triggers for the coup. This is likely supported by the lack of public resistance and the fact that celebrations have been seen on the streets of Libreville and other major population centres across the country.​

            Furthermore, the coup has yet to be characterised by anti-French rhetoric in a similar vein to the recent West and Central African coups in countries like Niger and Mali. However, the coup is almost certainly another problem for Paris in Africa, with multiple French companies operating in the country. Unlike the other coups in Africa, it is doubtful that the Gabonese coup leaders will seek Russian support in favour of maintaining Western relations. Gabon has traditionally had weak ties with Russia and unlike much of Africa, has not been threatened with major insurgencies and security issues. Moreover, Gabon was one of the countries in Africa that voted against Russia at the United Nations in the 2022 resolution on Ukraine.​

            Economically, the coup is almost certainly going to lead to price volatility in global oil and magnesium markets. Gabon has strong economic links with both France, and increasingly with China, and it is a major exporter of commodities to these nations. Reports indicate that some foreign companies like the French mining company, Eramet, have already suspended operations in Gabon in response to the coup. It is therefore highly likely that both France and China will be looking for the political situation to be resolved quickly, and there is a realistic possibility of diplomatic involvement from both Paris and Beijing. ​

            In the immediate future, it is unlikely that any major protests or armed clashes will break out as the Gabonese security forces are seemingly onside, and most indications suggest the public is too. The turning on of the internet was likely a move to win over the public as well as signal a different approach to governance than the Bongo regime. However, this also presents an increased potential for demonstrations and protests, both in favour and against the coup, to occur as information is spread on social media. There is a realistic possibility of sustained demonstrations which will likely lead to disruption in major population hubs. Borders will likely remain closed for upcoming days, but if scenes remain calm, borders are likely to reopen quicker than seen in Niger and Mali.

            Advice for travellers affected in Gabon

            • Although the coup appears to be relatively peaceful, widespread unrest and violence could ignite at any time. Travellers should avoid all ongoing military activity and any large public gatherings as the security situation may deteriorate quickly and without warning.​
            • In the event of significant security development, travellers in Gabon should follow any instructions issued by the government or military authorities. If a curfew is declared it is vital to abide by the curfew rules to avoid any conflicts with security forces.​
            • If violence escalates inside the capital, consider departing from Libreville whilst commercial options are still available. ​
            • Key military and political infrastructure inside the capital are very likely to remain focal points for violence and demonstrations. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice from the local security authorities.​
            • Expect significant travel disruption and an enhanced security force posture inside Libreville in the short-term. Should any opposition movement to the coup materialise, it is likely that flights will be suspended, and roadblocks or vehicle checkpoints will be established.​
            • Always follow all instructions and orders from security forces. ​Where possible, avoid areas of active conflict and remain inside a secure location away from windows. 
            • Ensure that you always carry personal identification documents. Consider making photocopies of important documents in case of confiscation, theft or loss and keep these documents separated from the originals.​​​
            • Emergency services may be unable to support you in the short-term. Be aware of what consular support may be available to you in-country. Many countries do not provide direct consular support in Gabon. The UK’s consular services for Gabon are based in Yaoundé, Cameroon.​
            • Have emergency contact numbers saved on your phone. These should include the local authorities, medical facilities and any consular support. Ensure that mobile phones are charged in case of any losses in electricity.​
            • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place. ​
            • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and trusted local media for updates relevant to the coup. 

            Attempted coup in Niger July 2023

            Summary of Attempted Coup in Niger

            On the morning of 26 July, multiple domestic and regional sources reported that a potential coup was underway in Niamey, Niger. Early indications suggested that the Presidential Guard had blocked the entrance to the Presidential Palace, and detained President Mohamed Bazoum. Concurrently, government ministries next to the palace were blockaded, with those inside, including the Minister of the Interior, detained.

            By early afternoon, the Niger Armed Forces (FAN) and National Guard had both deployed in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace. The FAN and the Presidential office both released statements asserting that the ongoing coup attempt was being driven by “anti-republican” elements and gave the Presidential Guard an “ultimatum” to stand down and release President Bazoum, or face being attacked. Unverified social media reports have subsequently described armoured FAN columns entering Niamey. Further unverified reports later emerged of roadblocks appearing across the city.

            The conditions in Niamey remained calm initially, however, as the situation developed businesses were reputedly told to close and residents were ordered to stay at home. Operations at Diori Hamani International Airport currently remain unaffected, with flight tracking data showing that both inbound and outbound flights were operating as normal.

            Recent Instability in Western Africa

            Since 2020, several coups have taken place across the Sahel region, most notably in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. The key driver for instability has been the inability of central governments to guarantee internal security from a myriad of insurgencies and terrorist actors. Niger has been increasingly afflicted by the instability affecting the wider region. In the southeast, Niger is battling incursions from Boko Haram and in the west of the country, the government is attempting to contain threats from Islamic State’s Sahel Province.
            Due to the external and internal threats posed by these actors, Niger has become a major operating base for Western nations in the region. Indeed, both France and the USA utilise the country as a base for operations in the wider Sahel.
            This relationship has grown in significance for Western governments as relations with other states in the region, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, have broken down in the wake of their own respective coups, leading to the expulsion of French forces.

            Further strengthening this relationship is the fact that Niger’s President was democratically elected in 2021 and is one of the region’s few remaining democratically elected heads of state. However, in February 2023 protests erupted in the capital, Niamey, with demonstrators expressing their dissatisfaction with a sustained French military presence in the country, with many believing that the foreign presence was either ineffective or had exacerbated security concerns.

            Find further analysis on political instability in West Africa

            Situation Analysis by Solace Global

            At the time of writing, there has been no official statement from Presidential Guard. However, given the recent regional trends, it is highly likely that this attempted coup has transpired due to concerns regarding the deteriorating security of Niger.

            This is further evidenced by the fact that the Presidential Guard has also apprehended the Minister of the Interior, who is the person ultimately responsible for policing and internal security in Niger. The recent uptick in attacks near the borders with Burkina Faso and Mali likely provided the catalyst for the current situation.

            As the situation develops, it is almost certain that key transport routes and critical locations across Niamey will be seized by rival forces. This will include Niamey’s key river crossings, which connect the main part of the city on the eastern bank of the Niger River to its western parts, the international airport, and state TV and radio offices. At the time of writing, it is believed that President Mohamed Bazoum remains in detention.

            The success of the ongoing attempted coup remains to be seen. Initial signs suggest that the FAN and National Guard have remained loyal to President Bazoum and are willing to fight. If this remains the case, it is unlikely that the coup succeeds due to the disparity in military firepower between the two sides. This result would ultimately see the Presidential Guard purged.

            However, should the coup succeed, civil unrest, both in favour and against, will highly likely occur. A transitional military council will likely take over the government and immediately revise the stationing of foreign militaries in Niger. The removal of the last remaining Western forces in the region will likely create a security vacuum, that will almost certainly benefit the insurgencies and terrorist groups in Niger and the wider region.

            Alert Plus: Multiple Large Earthquakes Strike Southern Turkey

            Situation Summary: Large Earthquakes in Southern Turkey

            At 01:17 (UTC) on 6 February, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake was detected 30km west-northwest of Gaziantep, Turkey (37°10’26.4″N 37°01’55.2″E). The earthquake struck at a depth of 24.1km and it quickly became apparent that a significant amount of casualties and damage had occurred in Turkey and northern Syria. There have been several substantial aftershocks, eight of which recorded a magnitude of at least 5. Tremors have also been felt in Greece, Cyprus and Lebanon.​

            As of 10:00, at least 1200 fatalities had been confirmed across Turkey and Syria. Images and videos posted to social media and local news outlets indicate considerable damage to infrastructure. In Turkey alone, at least 2818 buildings have collapsed. At 10:24, the region was then struck again by a separate 7.5 magnitude earthquake 4km south-southeast of Ekinozu (37°10’26.4″N 37°01’55.2″E) – roughly 128km north of the earlier epicentre. At the time of writing, it has been reported that the region has experienced at least 100 aftershocks. ​

            According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the area in which the quakes have hit is populated predominately by non-earthquake-resistant residential structures. They are often made of masonry, brick, and non-reinforced concrete frames. As a result, many buildings will have been badly damaged or will have collapsed completely. This means that there will be few places in which survivors can shelter safely.​

            Turkey declared a ‘Level 4 Alarm’ after the initial tremor, which reportedly includes a call for international assistance and support. The European Union has agreed to send rescue teams and is preparing further help for Turkey. US officials are also monitoring the situation and have noted their willingness to help. Rescue teams from India, Russia and Taiwan have also deployed. ​

            President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has described events so far as the nation’s worst disaster since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed over 32,000.  ​

            Intelligence Analysis by Solace Global

            The earthquakes have struck as Turkey prepares for its May elections, which were already seen as some of the country’s most consequential in decades. These earthquakes further add electoral weight, since previous large earthquakes have led to major political changes in the country. In the wake of Turkey’s last major earthquakes, in 1999, voters turned away the incumbent parties in the 2002 elections. These parties were punished as a result of the poor relief and reconstruction efforts, and for the large-scale corruption the earthquake exposed. Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his newly formed Justice and Development Party (AKP) party were the major beneficiaries of this political shift. As a result, he became Prime Minster in 2003 and ascended to the Presidency in 2014, a post he currently still holds.​

            The province of Gaziantep, where the epicentre of the earlier earthquake is located, has long been a cradle of support for the AKP and Erdogan. Indeed, support for the AKP and Erdogan has remained high in the province despite the recent economic volatility and uncertainty in the country, and the persistent accusations of corruption levied against the AKP and President Erdogan. Consequently, comprehensive aid and reconstruction efforts are likely to be implemented swiftly. Despite this, contemporary Turkish political history suggests that the AKP, having been the beneficiaries of the 1999 earthquake, may be victims of these ones. This becomes increasingly possible if victims feel that aid is too slow, not sufficient, or that reconstruction efforts are corrupt. ​

            Northern Syria has also been badly affected by the disaster. This part of the country has seen several recent Turkish military incursions; it is also home to some of the last anti-government areas of control. The tremors are almost certain to mean that Turkish offensive military operations in the region are temporarily halted, as the military is redeployed to support disaster relief and search and rescue operations in Turkey. The Syrian government may also seek to fast-track search and rescue and reconstruction efforts in areas in the region it controls in a bid to try and win support across an area which was long a stronghold of anti-Assad movements.​

            Those with interests in the region are advised to note that there remains considerable potential for large-magnitude aftershocks or follow-on tremors.​

            Advice if Affected by Earthquakes in Turkey

            Risk Management for NGO’s in Turkey and Syria

            Alert Plus: Jerusalem Explosions

            Situation Summary

            On 23 November at around 07:00 to 07:30 local time, two explosions impacted the city of Jerusalem. Both explosions occurred at bus stops located in the Givat Shaul (stop ID: 647) and Ramot Junction (stop ID: 4009) entrances to the city. The geolocated site of the Givat Shaul explosion is situated less than 2km from the Knesset and Supreme Court, whilst the Ramot Junction explosion occurred close to the Ramot Alon Jewish settlement.

            At least one person was killed and 17 people were injured during the first explosion at Givat Shaul, whilst the second explosion at the Ramot Junction injured a further five people and damaged a public bus located in the area. The Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Hadassah Mount Scopus Medical Center received injured persons from the twin explosions. The individual killed in the combined blasts has been identified as Aryeh Schopek, a 16-year-old Canadian citizen who lived in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem and attended a local yeshiva.

            Initial reports indicate that two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) concealed in bags were responsible for the explosions. Both bags were left at bus stops during the busy hour of the early morning commute. Israeli police later confirmed that the explosions were being treated as a suspected combined terror attack conducted by a “Palestinian” individual or organisation. No independent verification of the claim of suspected Palestinian responsibility for the attack was immediately identifiable.

            Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai confirmed that an investigation into the attack was underway and did not rule out the possibility of multiple suspects. New anti- terror measures were also announced in the aftermath of the attack, including the deployment of police officers with sniffer dogs to all buses in Jerusalem to search for any as-of-yet undiscovered IEDs. Road closures have also been implemented, including a suspension of incoming traffic along Highway One which connects Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

            Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid organised a national security meeting in Tel Aviv at 12:00 local time in response to the attack. Benjamin Netanyahu, the former and incoming prime minister, called for a “strengthening [of] the hands of the security forces” engaged in front-line anti-terror operations in the aftermath of the attack.

            Solace Global Comment

            Attacks on civilian infrastructure occur with some frequency in Israel, and buses have been targeted on multiple occasions over the past three decades. In 2022 alone, multiple terror attacks have occurred in Israeli territory, such as a mass shooting at a bus stop in Hadera in March, a mass stabbing and vehicle-ramming attack in Beersheba in March, a mass shooting in the Bnei Brak district of Tel Aviv in March, and a mass stabbing in El’ad in May. Palestinian and Islamist terror groups are often attributed with responsibility for many of these attacks, even when there is no official claim.

            Though no group or organisation has claimed responsibility for the combined attack in Jerusalem, public attention has turned to Hamas. Mohammad Hamada, a Hamas spokesperson, issued a statement claiming that the “coming days will be intense and more difficult for the enemy” and that “the time has come for the creation of cells that are spread all over Palestine”. The discovery of an IED at the light rail tracks near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station during the evening hours of 22 November has raised concerns that the twin bomb blasts may have originally been intended as a triple, or even larger, attack. Further attacks remain likely in the short term.

            At the time of writing, police reports indicate that the IEDs used by those responsible for the combined attack were packed with nails and likely remotely detonated. This method increases lethality despite the likely low-yield of the IEDs themselves, impacting civilians and surrounding infrastructure with metallic shrapnel. Security forces are certain to engage in an extensive investigation into the attack, and Israel Defence Forces (IDF) incursions into both Gaza and the West Bank are almost certain to occur in the short- term as Israeli authorities seek retribution for the terrorist incident. The explosions came as Netanyahu finalizes agreements with allies to form a new right- wing government that is set to include members of religious and far-right parties. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the head of the Otzma Yehudit political party and Netanyahu’s pick to be the next Minister of Public Security, visited the scene of the first attack and endorsed an aggressive response, calling for the government to “lay siege” to the culprits “even if it’s in the West Bank”. Ben-Gvir’s comments also endorsed house-to-house searches to locate those responsible for the attack with the intention of restoring the “deterrence power” of the Israeli government.

            map of jerusalem explosions

            Solace Global Advice

            • In the event of a terrorist attack those in the area are reminded to RUN – HIDE – TELL – FIGHT
            • Israel has a high risk of terrorism. Further attacks remain likely in the short term, although the presence of additional security force personnel in Jerusalem will likely mitigate the risk of follow-on attacks in the immediate term
            • Individuals with planned travel to Jerusalem are advised to reconfirm itineraries and expect localised travel disruption, particularly in the immediate vicinity of the incidents
            • Travellers are advised to avoid the immediate vicinity of Givat Shaul and Ramot Junction as emergency services remain on the scene to conduct their investigations
            • Further terror attacks in Jerusalem are likely to be indiscriminate, using explosives, bladed weapons, vehicles, and firearms to target crowded areas, government or security force installations and personnel, civilians, transportation networks, the Old City, and other high-profile locations including sites of religious significance
            • Locations where large groups of residents or tourists are known to gather are at higher risk of attack. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice or guidance from the local authorities or security personnel
            • Exercise increased caution, remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity or items to security personnel as soon as possible
            • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek immediate hard cover from any incoming gunfire or explosions and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place
            • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and trusted local media for updates

            Alert Plus: Istanbul Explosion

            Situation Summary

            On 13 November, at around 16:20 local time, an explosion occurred on Istiklal Caddesi in Istanbul. The street is mostly pedestrianised and is frequented by large numbers of both residents and tourists.

            Available footage from the attack indicates that an explosive device was placed in a bag and then left on a bench in proximity to a Mango clothing store. Authorities believe the bag was left by a female suspect, who sat on the bench for around 40 minutes before walking away immediately prior to the explosion. Local authorities have also suggested that a nail bomb was used in the attack, which was designed to inflict mass-casualties.

            As of 14 November, six deaths have been confirmed with a further 81 injured in the attack. Of those injured, 50 have been discharged from hospital, whilst the remainder are still being treated. Although Istiklal Caddesi has now reopened, having been closed in the immediate aftermath of the attack, there is an extensive police and security force presence in the area.

            Turkish authorities announced on 14 November that a Syrian female suspect and a further 46 other individuals had been arrested following security raids at 21 different locations. Authorities have announced their belief that the perpetrator was a Syrian national, Ahlam Albahsir, who was trained as an intelligence officer by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the People Defence Units (YPG). Despite this announcement, the PKK’s military umbrella organization, the People’s Defense Center (HSM) has denied being involved in this attack. Syria’s Kurdish-led and US- backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have also denied involvement.

            Whilst no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu claims that the attack was planned in Ayn al-Arab, a Kurdish- majority city in northern Syria. Soylu also stated that the attack was planned by the PKK/YPG, without offering evidence to support his claims. Despite the suspect’s alleged links to the PKK, Turkish officials have not ruled out an attack by the Islamic State (IS).

            Solace Global Comment

            The PKK is classed as a terror group by Turkey, the United States, the European Union, and since 1984 has been engaged in conflict with the Turkish State. Between 2015 and 2017, Turkey witnessed a string of attacks perpetrated by various Kurdish militia groups and IS. The attack on 13 November was the most recent terrorist incident in Istanbul since the January 2017 attack at the Reina nightclub in Ortakoy, which killed 39 people and was claimed by IS.

            Istiklal street has also been attacked previously, with a suicide bombing in March 2016 killing five and wounding a further 36. In that instance, authorities initially blamed the PKK for the attack although subsequently confirmed that IS had been responsible.

            The accusation by the Turkish authorities that the attack was planned by the PKK/YPG in northern Syria will very likely provide the justification for Turkey to launch a new cross-border operation into northern Syria. Since 2016, Turkish armed forces have been involved in northern Syria, targeting PKK/YPG forces. In May 2022 it was announced that Turkey’s planned fifth offensive in the region had been postponed, with some sources indicating this was due to pressure from other NATO allies. It therefore remains likely that Turkish authorities will seek to leverage anti-Kurdish sentiment in order to conduct limited offensive operations across the Syrian border in the short term.

            In June 2023 Turkey will also hold general elections, which will include the election of the President of Turkey and elections to the country’s Grand National Assembly. Previous terror attacks between 2015 and 2017 are widely credited to have brought security issues to the forefront for the elections of 2018. It is highly likely that this attack will result in an increased focus on security in domestic political narratives in the short to medium term.

            In the immediate short term, Istanbul and other major Turkish cities are likely to see an increase in the visible presence of police and security officials. Taksim square and Gezi park are the primary locations in Istanbul for civil unrest, protests and demonstrations, with an elevated security force posture in these areas very likely to remain advantageous to the Turkish authorities in the build up to the general elections next year.

            Solace Global Advice

            • In the event of a terrorist attack those in the area are reminded to RUN – HIDE – TELL – FIGHT
            • Turkey has a notable risk of terrorism. Further attacks remain realistically possible, although the presence of additional security force personnel will likely mitigate the risk in the immediate term
            • Individuals with planned travel to Istanbul are advised to reconfirm itineraries and expect localised travel disruption, particularly in the immediate vicinity of the incident
            • Travellers are advised to avoid Istiklal Caddesi as emergency services remain on the scene to conduct their investigations
            • Further terror attacks in Istanbul are likely to be indiscriminate, targeting crowded areas, government or security force installations and personnel, civilians, transportation networks such as metro stations and ferry terminals, and other high-profile locations including sporting infrastructure
            • Locations where large groups of residents or tourists are known to gather are at higher risk of attack. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice or guidance from the local authorities or security personnel
            • Exercise increased caution, remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity or items to security personnel as soon as possible
            • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek immediate hard cover from any incoming gunfire or explosions and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place

            Election violence in Kenya

            Situation Summary of Election Violence in Kenya

            On 15 August, violence erupted at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had been scheduled to release the results of the Kenyan general election. Live footage from the venue showed physical altercations breaking out between attendees, with military
            personnel intervening to break up the violence.

            Earlier on 15 August the IEBC had announced a delay in releasing the results, although did not specify a reason for the delay. Separately, four commissioners of the IEBC held a press conference at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi, in which they stated that they could not “take ownership of the results” due to concerns over their opaqueness. As the violent scenes emerged and news broke of the division within the IEBC, it
            was announced that riot police across the country had been placed on standby, with Kenya’s highest bishop calling for calm and peace to prevail.

            In the days since the 9 August election, the IEBC has been verifying the vote tallies provided by the country’s polling stations. In this interim period, both main presidential candidates have alluded to voting irregularities and of fighting the result in courts. Meanwhile, the delay between voting and the announcement of a result had only led to further speculation and disinformation around the legitimacy
            of the vote.
            Around 20 minutes after the initial chaotic scenes at the Bomas of Kenya, and despite four of the seven IEBC commissioners stating they could not back the results, the IEBC announced that William Ruto had won the election with 7,176,141 votes – amounting to 50.49 percent of the total valid votes. The pre-election favourite, Raila Odinga, received 6,942,930 votes – representing 48.85 percent of the votes cast.

            Solace Global Comment

            In 2007, post election violence resulted in more than 1,500 civilian deaths, whilst in 2017 at least fifty were killed and the election result was seen as so contentious that the country’s Supreme court ruled the vote should be re-run. Odinga has run for president on five occasions and has lost each time he has run.
            He has also disputed the final election result following each loss, which set the conditions of suspicion and mistrust, and ultimately precipitated previous outbreaks of post-election violence. Given that Odinga was seen as the favourite to win the Presidency during the 2022 election, the closeness of the declared result and the inconsistency from the IEBC on 15 August, it is highly likely that he will once more
            attempt to contest the election results.

            Regardless of whether Odinga officially disputes the result, it is highly likely that his supporters will rally against the result. Any such unrest is highly likely to become violent. The city of Kisumu, which is home to a large pro-Odinga voting bloc, has already begun to see protests break out against alleged vote rigging, whilst in the Kibera area of Nairobi there are reports that riots have begun to break out. Further
            unrest is likely to remain centred on the political centres of gravity in Nairobi, with the State House, Central Business District, and Serena Hotel all probable areas of unrest in the short term.

            It is noteworthy that this was the first election in which there was no candidate from Kenya’s largest tribe, the Kikuyu. As a result, if election violence and unrest begins to spread across the country, there is a realistic possibility that it will avoid the traditional split along ethnic and tribal lines. Consequently, post-election violence may occur more widely across Kenya, as it would not be centred on tribal population centres, although it may be less extreme than levels observed during previous elections in which a Kikuyu candidate was participating.

            Solace Global Advice

            • Widespread unrest and violence remains possible in the short term. Travellers should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may escalate quickly and without warning. Immediately vacate the area if caught in unrest.
            • In the event of a significant security development, travellers in Kenya should follow any instructions issued by the Kenyan government or local authorities.
            • Areas where political figures are known to gather are likely to be focal points for political activism and unrest, especially sites associated with the Presidential office or known protest hotspots. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice from the local security authorities.
            • Expect localised travel disruption and an enhanced security force posture in the short-term. Allow for additional time when travelling in-country, as protest action and increased security force presence may result in road closures or blockades.
            • Ensure that you always carry personal identification documents. Consider making photocopies of important documents in case of confiscation, theft or loss.​

            • Make sure you are familiar with contact details for the emergency services in Kenya – dial 999 / 112 / 911 to request police, medical assistance or fire brigade.
            • Exercise increased caution, remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to security personnel as soon as possible.
            • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey any security cordons in place.
            • Report any suspicious items and behaviours to the nearest security or police officials.
            • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and local media for updates.

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            US speaker Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan

            A delegation of American politicians, including House Speaker and senior Democratic politician Nancy Pelosi, landed at Taipei Shongshan Airport in the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan) on 2 August. The visit to Taiwan comes amidst an ongoing tour of the Asia-Pacific by the high-profile delegation, which has been conducted for the purpose of reaffirming American commitments to the region. Countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan were included on the official itinerary list, but the visit to Taiwan was hidden, likely out of concerns that any official confirmation would prompt a harsh response from the People’s Republic of China (PRC, or China).

            Intelligence suggesting that Nancy Pelosi would visit Taiwan prompted a series of warnings from the Chinese government and state media broadcasters. China warned that any visit to Taiwan would be considered as a provocation that would necessitate a diplomatic and, in some communications, military response from Chinese authorities. Speculation of Nancy Pelosi’s visit prompted China to engage in aggressive military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait during the morning of 2 August, including the positioning of warships and aircraft along the contested Median Line. A Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack was later recorded against the website of Taiwan’s presidential office.

            Four US Navy warships, including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and the USS Tripoli amphibious assault ship, have been operating east of Taiwan. US officials have stressed that their positioning was prompted by a “routine deployment”, but US military authorities remain on high alert due to the increased risk of miscommunication and miscalculation stemming from the elevated number of both US and Chinese military assets in the region.

            In response, Chinese authorities announced three-day military drills will commence near Taiwan from 4 August.

            Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan represents the most senior visit by a US official since the visit of House Speaker and Republican politician Newt Gingrich to  Taipei in 1997. Newt Gingrich’s visit prompted irritation within China but was tolerated at the time. Since 1997, however, China’s role in the global economy has grown exponentially, and China has begun to exercise a more assertive role in both regional and global diplomacy. There is now an increased willingness within the Chinese government to adopt a more hawkish stance towards Taiwan, which is actively considered to be one of China’s core national interests, alongside increasingly bellicose rhetoric regarding reunification.

            Taiwanese self-governance and the perception of Taiwan as an integral territory of China has prompted the Chinese government to enforce a ‘One China’ policy in its global relations; a practice which the US has acknowledged since President Richard Nixon’s decision to thaw relations between the US and China in 1972. Despite this, the incumbent Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has accused US President Joe Biden of conducting a “fake” One China policy, and Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned the US “not to play with fire” over the legal and diplomatic status of Taiwan.

            Although an invasion of Taiwan remains highly unlikely in the near-term due to the complexity of an amphibious assault across the Taiwan Strait, geopolitical and economic impact, and the potential for US involvement in the conflict, Nancy Pelosi’s visit is certain to escalate tensions further and will very likely lead to an increased Chinese military presence in the region over the coming weeks. Chinese officials have likely calculated that there is a need to reassert Chinese credibility over their red lines in Taiwan, given the current trajectory of US-Taiwan relations. A further military response remains realistically possible, such as live-fire exercises, significant naval and aerial posturing off Taiwan, or potentially missile tests in the vicinity of the Taiwan Strait. A Taiwanese response should be anticipated, and the potential for miscalculation should not be ruled out. China may also seek to conduct retaliatory actions towards the US through economic levers.

            •In the event of a significant security development, travellers in Taiwan should follow any instructions issued by the Taiwanese government.

            •Political tensions may disrupt airspace in both China and Taiwan. It is advised to monitor flight information and check with your travel provider if you are unsure of the status of your flight.

            •Instances of civil unrest within Taiwan cannot be ruled out. Travellers should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may escalate quickly and without warning.

            •Areas where political figures are known to gather are likely to be focal points for political activism and unrest, especially sites due to be attended by Nancy Pelosi or other delegates. You should be particularly vigilant in these areas and follow any specific advice from the local security authorities.

            •Expect localised travel disruption and an enhanced security force posture in the short-term as Taiwanese authorities increase measures to protect the US delegation.

            • Be aware that China may seek to retaliate for Nancy Pelosi’s visit within the economic, cyber, and diplomatic domains, which could place additional restrictions on business operations and travel within China, Taiwan, and the wider region.

            • Make sure you are familiar with contact details for the emergency services (in Taiwan – dial 110 for the police, 119 for medical assistance or the fire brigade).

            • Exercise increased caution, remain vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and report any suspicious activity to security personnel as soon as possible.

            • If caught in the vicinity of a security incident, seek shelter immediately and leave the area if safe to do so. Continue to adhere to all instructions issued by authorities and obey the security cordon in place. 

            • Report any suspicious items and behaviours to the nearest security or police officials. 

            • Monitor the Solace Secure platform and local media for updates. 

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            Alert Plus – Apparent Coup in Mali, President Keita Resigns

            SITUATION SUMMARY: Apparent Coup in Mali

            During a televised address, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita resigned. The announcement comes after the president was detained by soldiers on Tuesday, 18 August. The country’s parliament has also been dissolved, plunging the country into political uncertainty. It remains unclear if the military is now officially in charge of the country.

            The news of the president’s departure was met with jubilation by protesters in the country’s capital. Footage on social media and media websites show people dancing and cheering on military vehicles and soldiers as they move around Bamako. The Ministry of Justice building was also set alight in celebration.

            All land and air borders in the country have been closed and a curfew has been implemented from 09:00 to 17:00 until further notice. Military leaders have pledged to set up a civilian transitional government, inviting the country’s civil society and political parties to join them to prepare for elections.

            The driving force behind the apparent coup appears to have stemmed from mutinying soldiers who took control of the Kati military camp. The soldiers then moved on the capital and arrested the president, Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other senior government officials. The numbers of those involved remains undetermined as well as who will now take the leadership of the government.

            The events came following a long political crisis where opposition protesters have taken to the streets demanding the departure of Keita. Protesters have accused Keita of allowing the economy to collapse thus worsening the security situation across the country.

            Foreign embassies have announced that citizens/travellers based in Bamako should remain indoors where possible and avoid protests, especially within the capital. The coup has been condemned by the European Union, African Union and the United Nations, as well as representatives of several countries.


            Details surrounding the coup remain unclear, the mutiny appears to have started in Kati, similarly to the coup that occurred in 2012. The mutiny also comes off the back of ongoing protests that began on 5 June.

            The country’s protests had been growing in recent weeks, with demonstrators complaining that not enough has been done to address the issues that the country faces. The protesters pointed fingers at those in charge for failing to adequately address the country’s struggling economy, improve job prospects, and fight corruption and the ongoing insurgency that is not only destabilising the country, but also the wider region.

            Keita has, in 2013 when he won election by a landslide, vowed a zero-tolerance for corruption. However, the former president’s popularity has faded over time. While he was reelected in the 2018 presidential elections, they were marred by low turnout and fraud allegations, which created frustration among the public, particularly among the country’s youth.

            The pressure on Keita has only grown since the beginning of the protests in June. With the fight against insurgents dragging on, despite French military support, poor economic prospects and violent protests, the former president’s position was becoming untenable. Indeed, regional mediators had arrived in Bamako to try and ease the unrest; however, the military decided to step in.

            The coup represents a major setback for France. Paris has invested heavily in the country both financially and militarily with over $1 billion in funding and 5,000 soldiers. Many Malians are now calling on the French to withdraw their troops following the perceived lack of progress.

            The instability created by the coup also heightens the risk that Islamic extremist insurgents and Tuareg rebels may look to exploit the situation. With the Malian military struggling to maintain control over large parts of the country, France has recently increased its efforts and is seeking increased European military support.


            • If currently in the country, especially the capital and the surrounding area, travellers should remain indoors and minimize all movement for the time being.
            • Be aware that all land and air borders are currently closed, travel will be deferred until these restrictions have been lifted.
            • Avoid political and governmental buildings in Bamako due to the likelihood of unrest.
            • Ensure that you carry personal identification documents at all times. Consider making photocopies of important documents incase of confiscation, theft or loss.
            • Travellers should have a grab bag packed and ready, said bag should be carried whenever leaving your residence.
            • Review and update your escalation and evacuation plans for Mali, focusing on what protocols staff members should follow in the event there is major deterioration in the security environment.
            • Anticipate a heightened military presence throughout the city with additional security being reported near all major political and media buildings. Exercise vigilance and follow all official directives.
            • Travellers should follow local media and use the Solace Secure app to stay up to date with security-related events including potential protests, clashes or additional military deployment.