The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 12

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, April 17th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

It's certainly been a big weekend for the world. Hopefully yours, however, was relaxing and calm. Here's a friendly reminder that the website and app continue to host a wealth of new content daily, both free and exclusive. So over in Europe, Azerbaijan and Armenia continue their struggle, Finland gets a new power source, and the EU splits on importing Ukrainian grain products. In the Middle East, Hamas visits Saudi Arabia while simultaneously pushing for peace in Yemen and the Iranians crack down on hijab wearing. In Africa, Kenya is experiencing election unrest, the Burkina Faso junta faces criticism over their main goal, and Rwanda helps their allies fight jihadism. Brazil is once again headlining the Americas as President Lula travels to China and the United States buys ammo from South Korea to fill deficiencies following Ukraine. In Asia and Oceania, Japan sees an assassination scare on another Prime Minister and their residents are issued alerts after North Korean missiles were launched near their borders.

Sounds like it's just another day at the office. Let's dive in:- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, & the Atlas team


Sunday, April 16th, 2023:  Gunfire was heard throughout the streets of many major cities in Sudan on Saturday as militias took to the streets in opposition to the government. Following the violence, a number of major developments have occurred that have drawn the attention of the international community.

The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group in Sudan, are continuing intense fighting with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) as Sudanese delegations urge the world to stay sidelined, declaring this to be an internal matter.

Recent months have seen discussions between the military and civil groups to discuss the formation of a new government. The RSF and other paramilitary forces have been largely opposed to many of the agreements between the SAF and civil groups, as the RSF is reluctant to give up its military power and merge with the Sudanese Armed Forces. This breakdown in agreement is likely what led to the conflict now occurring in the country.

As far as reports of the fighting, the RSF initially made lightning advances across the country, taking several military bases and key infrastructure before the military could mount a proper defense. However, starting throughout the evening on Saturday and continuing into Sunday, the SAF have reestablished control over many of these key locations. Making good use of it's well-equipped air force, Sudan has conducted a series of close air support attacks and bombing campaigns across the contested areas. Videos have emerged of Mig-29 multirole aircraft doing low passes over cities and Sudanese tanks firing at RSF positions as the paramilitary groups struggle to combat the heavy equipment. Despite this, reports still stream in of other militias merging with the RSF and intense fighting throughout the countryside and capital city of Khartoum. The Sudanese Armed Forces claim control of the strategic city of Port Sudan, while the RSF claim control over the Sudan Presidential Palace in Khartoum.


April 16th, 2023 - Europe's most powerful nuclear reactor, by production capacity, has begun regular operation in Finland, 14 years after its intended start time. The initial start of construction in 2005 and the anticipated completion date in 2009 were both delayed due to numerous technological issues and the resulting lawsuits. The reactors opening shows the divide in Europe as Germany shut down its three remaining plants on Saturday, a move it has pursued largely since the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Finland’s reactors supply approximately 40% of its energy needs, with this one holding a 1,600-megawatt capacity.

April 11th, 2023 - Significant clashes took place between Armenia and Azerbaijan, this time in Armenia proper. Combat occurred near the Armenian village of Tegh, in Syunik, with clashes beginning with small-arms fire before quickly escalating into mortar bombardments. As per usual, both sides have accused each other of starting the clashes. Armenia claims to have suffered four soldiers killed and an additional six wounded, whereas Azerbaijan claimed three killed with no statement on wounded. The EU observer mission in Armenia issued a condemnation of the incident but did not say who they believed started it. Azeri media has accused Armenia of using Iranian drones during the clashes, which Armenia has denied, stating they do not have any such drones in their possession.

An Armenian soldier. (Photo -

April 17th, 2023 - The EU has labeled an import ban that Hungary and Poland have placed on Ukrainian grain as "not acceptable". The two nations announced their bans over the weekend, saying that the tariff-free imports are flooding their local markets and harming their own farmers by lowering price points. "In this context, it is important to underline that trade policy is of EU exclusive competence and, therefore, unilateral actions are not acceptable. In such challenging times, it is crucial to coordinate and align all decisions within the EU", said an EU spokesman. Both nations bans will last until June 30th. Slovakia and Bulgaria are also said to be joining the ban.

Middle East

April 16th, 2023 - A Hamas delegation landed in Saudi Arabia as the Palestinian militant group attempts to re-establish ties with the Kingdom. The two parties have had ill relations since 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. Relations further took a dive in 2019 when Saudi Arabia arrested a number of Hamas operatives within the country, though several of those arrested have since been released. Hamas’s delegation consists of several high-profile members, including Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. The delegation first traveled to Mecca for a pilgrimage before meeting with Saudi leadership. The meeting is a big setback for Israel, which was also hoping to continue to establish diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia.

April 16th, 2023 - The Saudi Arabian government has released 104 detainees as part of its pursuit of peace in Yemen. The move is to be followed by a mutual release by the Houthis. This comes after peace talks concluded in the Yemeni capital city on Thursday, which the Houthis announced had made significant progress in creating a permanent ceasefire. The release is separate from a larger operation seeking to release approximately 900 people between the two parties as a mutual show of faith. Many see the war in Yemen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and point to the recent diplomatic agreements between them as a likely influence for peace with Yemen's Houthis.

Family members of detainees await their arrival at Sanaa airport. (Photo from REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)

April 16th, 2023 - Iranian police announced that, over the course of 24 hours, they closed over 150 businesses for failing to comply with the nation's mandatory hijab laws. The laws have been incredibly controversial in recent months and have been the source of a series of protests throughout the nation. Police Spokesman Saeed Montazerolmahdi declared on the matter, "Unfortunately, the police had to close 137 shops and 18 restaurants and reception halls in the country for not heeding to previous warnings." Iranian police have also set up a series of cameras throughout the nation, outfitted with facial recognition technology, in order to further enforce the law. They have further stated that anyone spotted in a vehicle not complying with the law will receive a text message warning.


April 14th, 2023 - Kenyan opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has announced that he will resume protests at some point after the end of Ramadan as parliamentary talks between him and the government appear to have not yielded the results he was hoping for. When President Ruto reached out to Odinga on April 2, asking for him to stop protests and meet, Odinga announced that if the talks did not "bear fruit", he would resume protests. Though he aims to resume after accusing the government of not taking the talks seriously, he has stated he will still be participating in negotiations while protests are ongoing. He is protesting what he claims is electoral fraud in the 2022 election. Despite the supreme court upholding Ruto’s victory, Odinga has maintained his position.

April 15th, 2023 - Rwandan President Paul Kagame has promised military support to Benin as jihadist violence in Burkina Faso threatens to spill over into neighboring countries. Rwanda already has deployments in Mozambique and the Central African Republic in order to assist with security issues. Benin is not alone in beefing up their security; Togo, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast have also increased security on their borders with Burkina Faso, particularly after repeated attacks in the area blamed on Burkinabé jihadist groups. "We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders. There will be no limit to what will be accomplished together for security challenges", said President Kagame. Though Benin officials stated last year that any agreement would not see a Rwandan deployment, Benin President Patrice Talon said this agreement could contain "supervision, coaching, training, joint deployment". 

President Paul Kagame and Benin Foreign Minister Aurelien Agbenonci during a meeting in Benin.

April 15th, 2023 - 40 people have been killed and an additional 33 wounded in a large attack by thus far unknown assailants in Burkina Faso. 34 of those killed were civilian volunteers, while the remaining six were soldiers. The 33 wounded have been reported to be in "stable condition". The military announced they launched a retaliatory attack, in which "several dozen terrorists were neutralized", yet there was still no identification of the perpetrators. The attack comes after Burkina Faso declared a mobilization on Thursday to give the government "all necessary means" to combat jihadist groups within the country. This attack follows another the previous week in which 44 civilians were killed. The government has been drawing much criticism for its failure to fight the growing terrorist presence, which was the main stated reason for their own coup over the former government.

The Americas

April 14th, 2023 - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was in Beijing for a two-day visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during which they signed 15 cooperation agreements. Though the primary purpose of the meeting was trade-related, the two also briefly touched on the war in Ukraine, both stating the need for a "negotiated settlement". The relationship between China and Brazil, though strong tradewise, had been diplomatically strained after a series of anti-China remarks from former President Bolsonaro during his presidency. On top of further increasing trade between the two, which already totaled 150 billion in 2022, Lula hopes to repair any damage done by his predecessor.

President Lula in Beijing with President Xi Jinping. (Photo from Ricardo Stuckert/Handout via Reuters)

April 12th, 2023 - South Korea and the US have reportedly reached an agreement that will see the South "loan" 500,000 rounds of artillery ammunition to the US. South Korea has thus far refrained from directly supplying Ukraine with any sort of lethal aid, despite American requests, citing security concerns with North Korea. However, last year they sold 100,000 rounds to the US, and this loan is expected to boost the American supply so that they have room to send some of their own to Ukraine in place of direct aid from Korea. Though Ukraine sees much aid from the West, the US has continually tried to convince it’s Latin American, African, and Asian partners to increase assistance to Ukraine as their needs grow ever larger.

Asia and Oceania

April 15th, 2023 - Fear arose after a suspected attempt was made on the Japanese Prime Minister’s life when a man threw a device at him during a political visit to Wakayama, a Japanese port city. The cylindrical device was later discovered to be just a smoke bomb. The Prime Minister’s security team was quick to act, kicking away the bomb before quickly moving the Prime Minister away. Additional security rapidly approached, tackled, and arrested the suspect who threw the bombs from the nearby crowd. 24 year-old Ryuji Kimora was arrested and was discovered to be carrying an additional silver cylinder with him, which remained unused. Police have yet to release any sort of motive, likely due to Ryuji reportedly being uncooperative with police. The Prime Minister and the crowd that was watching his soon-to-begin speech were unharmed.

Ryuji Kimora being detained by Japanese police at the port where he is said to have thrown a smoke bomb at the Prime Minister.

April 12th, 2023 - The people of Hokkaido, Japan, received a scare as Japanese authorities issued a "seek shelter" order due to a North Korean missile. "Evacuate immediately. Evacuate immediately. Take shelter in a building or underground immediately. A Missile could fall in the Hokkaido area around 08:00. Please evacuate immediately", read the warning. The missile sailed safely into the ocean rather than towards Japanese cities, but tensions remain high as incidents like this highlight North Korean rhetoric and weapons tests that have been growing more aggressive as of late.

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