General Threat Assessment

  • Posted on: 2 February 2018
  • By: laila Akel

Organizations operating in a conflict zone have 2 challenges: How to create a secure work environment, and deciding when it has become too dangerous to continue operating. In order to address the latter, a general threat assessment is necessary. In which different incidents are evaluated and sorted into one of four levels. Starting with low threat, and escalating to operation shutdown. In this blog we identify incidents at each level, to make evaluating situations easier, we have added examples of past events around the world for each level.


‘Caution’ Low Threat


  • Small-scale demonstrations and spontaneous violence within the town center/central districts

  • The ‘perceived’ ability of authorities to control outbreaks – still quick in responding to incidents and effective with crowd control.

  • Increase in nationalist/government sponsored propaganda.

  • Increase in government approved demonstrations

  • Ethno-Religious protests

  • government warnings on the media regarding increased social disorder

  • Acts of random violence and destruction of property

  • Embassies issuing travel advisory warnings to their subjects.



Between February 2011 and April 2012, demonstrations and protests took place in Morocco, demanding King Mohammed to give up some of his powers and clamp down on government corruption, in addition to recognizing Berber as an official language (ethnic protests). While most of the protests were peaceful, with the police assaulting protesters.




‘Alert’ Medium Threat


  • Increased vulnerability of residential areas.

  • Travel between areas becoming difficult and hazardous.

  • Food and water shortages, power disruptions lasting for extended periods.

  • Disruption of business operations

  • Foreigners targeted on an increased scale.

  • Security incidents becoming widespread.

  • Increase in bomb threats

  • Increased intensity of state sponsored demonstrations

  • Isolated incidents of local unrest

  • Unauthorized demonstrations challenging authority

  • Government warnings on TV and radio restricting movement

  • Advice from relevant Embassy to evacuate dependants



On October 1st 2017, an independence referendum was held in Catalonia, asking the public whether Catalonia should separate from Spain to form its own republic. The Spanish national police and Spanish civil guards were deployed to break up the voting process as the Spanish government deemed the referendum to be illegal, resulting in violence erupting between civilians and the deployed forces. Batons and rubber bullets were used against the protestors. The following number of weeks saw a large number of pro and anti independence rallies and protests across Spain.



‘Emergency’ High Threat


  • Civil insurrection – violence aimed at officials and representatives of the government, Destruction of government buildings, Riots and looting.

  • Firearms used by and against security forces in urban areas.

  • Inability of the government to guarantee security.

  • Substantial desertions from security forces, lack of response to emergency situations.

  • Dramatic increase in crime.

  • Foreigners and international projects particularly targeted.

  • Large scale military mobilization

  • Curfews and martial law implemented

  • Advice from relevant Embassy to evacuate non-essential personnel



On January 25th, 2011, thousands took to the streets of Cairo to demonstrate against widespread poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the rule of president Hosni Mubarak. Police fire tear gas and use water cannons against demonstrators. Protest organizers heavily relied on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. In the following days, death and injury reports were starting to become more common. Protests and clashes with the police and security forced spread to all cities around the country. Troops are later deployed onto the streets of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria and are ordered to not interfere. With the threat of looting Cairo’s historical museums, including the Egyptian Museum. Whose greatest threat appears to come from the fire engulfing the ruling party headquarters next door the night before, set ablaze by anti-government protesters. Despite all, Mubarak refuses to resign, and when he does, he sets a 6 month period. Clashes between pro-Mubarak and anti-government protesters are reported in Alexandria. Number of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square are revised to more than a million people. Thousands more take to the streets throughout Egypt, including in Alexandria and Suez. Injury reports skyrocket to the thousands, death reports well in the hundreds before Mubarak eventually announces he will be resigning effective immediately.




‘Crisis’ Operation Shutdown


  • Military hostilities – factional infighting. Civil war or armed conflict (ie: Israeli Invasion).

  • Hostile and dangerous environment. Travel around region very difficult. Curfews and martial law enforced by security forces.

  • Business continuation becoming impossible or unrealistic.

  • Advice from relevant Embassy to evacuate all personnel.

  • Embassies closing down.



On July 15th, 2016, Turkey witnessed its first military coup d'etat in over several decades when a faction within the Turkish military broke rank and attempted to topple the government and overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Parliament was bombed by Turkish fighter jets and fighting between different military factions broke out, with Chief of the General Staff Hulusi Akar taken hostage in his own headquarters. After Turkish civilians came onto the streets to confront the rebelling forces, and a response by the Turkish army, the rebellious forces were forced to surrender. Emergency (marshall) law was declared in the following days. Hundreds were killed and thousands were injured, tens of thousands arrested in the aftermath.