Weekly Analysis 22nd January

  • 22 Jan 2016 09:52

The G4S Risk Analysis team produces weekly risk analysis pieces on current events pertinent to security and business operations. Please see below for excerpts of our weekly analysis for the week ending 22 January.

Burkina Faso: AQIM poses expanding regional threat in the Sahel and West Africa 

On the evening of 15 January, militants from al-Mourabitoun, newly a branch of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), launched attacks on the Splendid Hotel and the nearby Cappuccino restaurant in the centre of Ouagadougou, killing 30 people. Militants specifically targeted places popular with foreigners in the city. Over 18 different nationalities were killed. The attacks follow a similar assault on the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako on 20 November 2015, which left 20 people dead and which was also claimed by al-Mourabitoun and AQIM. The attacks in Bamako and Ouagadougou signal that AQIM is extending its ability to conduct attacks towards the south and outside its traditional area of operations in northern Mali and southern Algeria. There is a high risk of further attacks in major cities across the Sahel region and in West Africa due to the evolving threat. To read more, sign up here

Iran: Post-sanctions economy to pursue European investment as key elections approach 

Implementation Day, the long-awaited removal of international sanctions against Iran over its nuclear missile programme, has come and gone with suitable fanfare. By ending Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability, the deal will drastically reduce the region’s threat of nuclear proliferation for a period of ten years, allowing for a new chapter in relations between Iran and the EU. Although lingering US sanctions over terrorism, ballistic missiles and human rights issues will deter US businesses, European companies have already begun to pursue opportunities in one of the only remaining middle-income countries to be cut off from global competition. Nevertheless, the complications of Iran as an operating environment will require European investors to proceed cautiously to avoid losses, paying particular attention to counterparty due diligence to negotiate Iran’s challenging compliance landscape. To read more, sign up here

Indonesia: Terrorist attack in Jakarta highlights threat of radicalisation 

On 14 January, a group of six armed terrorists launched an attack in the heart of the business district of Jakarta. The attackers, despite their lack of sophistication, demonstrated significant symbolic resonance with their targeting of locales on one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Jl MH Thamrin, along which sit luxury hotels, shopping malls, government and office buildings. There followed a series of grenade blasts and a protracted gun battle between the terrorists and the police. Two Indonesians and one Canadian national are among the dead, along with four of the attackers. Five police officers, 15 Indonesians and several foreign national were injured. Islamic State (IS) subsequently claimed responsibility for the attack.  To read more, sign up here

Venezuela: Political deadlock amid deepening economic crisis  

Despite the widespread optimism following the opposition’s victory in the 6 December legislative elections, Venezuela’s political crisis continues to intensify. The recent inauguration of the new National Assembly, where the opposition now holds a significant majority, was marred by tensions that highlighted the Maduro administration’s unwillingness to cooperate with a legislature that does not favour his rule. In particular, the declaration of a state of “economic emergency”, giving President Maduro powers to rule by decree, far from solving the country’s economic crisis, has further complicated the current political deadlock. To read more, sign up here

Syria: IS assault on Deir ez-Zour amid decline in territory 

Since 16 January Islamic State (IS) militants have conducted a large-scale assault on the city of Deir ez-Zor, abducting hundreds of people and leaving hundreds of others dead for alleged cooperation with the Syrian Army. On 16 January, IS launched a series of suicide and car bomb attacks on military positions in the western suburbs of Begayliya and Ayash; and reports have emerged of militants, after failing to gain control of military positions, conducting door-to-door massacres of civilians, including women, children and the elderly. To read more, sign up here

Sweden: Recent terror alerts illustrate elevated terrorism concerns  
On 19 January, the British International School of Stockholm was evacuated following a bomb threat. Police evacuated more than 250 pupils and staff at around 0945hrs local time. The school was cordoned off and specialist police teams conducted a thorough search. The search found no suspicious materials and the source of the alert is still under investigation. Police are refusing to provide details, but confirmed that the threat had come via a telephone call to the school. Such incidents, whether genuine alerts or false alarms, are likely to continue, placing pressure on the Swedish police and security service, SÄPO, as Sweden faces an emergent terrorism threat. To read more, sign up here

Afghanistan: Election announcement unlikely to alleviate political deadlock  

The Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC) has announced that long-delayed elections will be held on 15 October. Originally scheduled to take place in June 2015, elections were postponed owing to security concerns and the failure of the coalition National Unity Government (NUG) to enact electoral reforms. The announcement of the election date is unlikely to alleviate ongoing political deadlock, however, after NUG officials denounced the IEC’s plan as illegitimate. Despite the announcement, persistent infighting means that the NUG is unlikely to fulfil its commitments to electoral and constitutional reform by an October deadline imposed by US mediators upon its formation, reducing the likelihood of an October election. Combined with a deteriorating security situation and lack of requisite funding, the chances of an election being held this year appear slim. To read more, sign up here