The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 13

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, April 24th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

We are sending the newsletter in the afternoon again this week, as no doubt you've noticed. We are still gathering data on the opportune time for our readers and appreciate any feedback we receive. Please note that there is no set change and that the newsletter is still set for every Monday morning going forward. 

Now - to the news. 

We seem to have just another day at the office. Let's see what's up:- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, & the Atlas team


Sunday, April 23rd, 2023:  As the Sudan conflict between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) worsens, the international community has directly stepped in to not only mitigate peace but also rescue civilians from the fighting. So far, over a dozen countries have sent military personnel to evacuate civilians and embassy staff, with at least one American killed and one French special forces operator wounded. Egypt has also been heavily involved due to their soldiers being captured at Merowe Airbase. These soldiers have since been safely turned over to the SAF, who have sent them home to Egypt; however, the situation remains tense as thousands of foreign citizens are caught in the crossfire of the fighting.

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.

Initially, the RSF saw major successes; however, once the SAF was able to muster its forces, they began to deploy heavy equipment, including tanks, armored vehicles, helicopters, and advanced multirole aircraft, to devastating effect, dramatically halting much of the RSF's advances. Since then, fighting has been intense throughout heavily urban areas and around military and key locations. Both the presidential palace and headquarters of the RSF have been heavily contested, with the latter being almost entirely destroyed. Tens of thousands of refugees have begun fleeing as the United Nations attempts to set up humanitarian corridors and temporary ceasefires.

A satelite image of Sudan's Khartoum International Airport as heavy fighting persists throughout the capital city. (Photo - Planet Labs PBC via AP)

The United States, United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Japan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and several other countries have all carried out operations to remove their citizens from harm's way. Reportedly, both the RSF and SAF have assisted in safely evacuating foreigners in coordinated efforts so as to minimize foreign involvement and civilian casualties. Dozens of C-130 and C-17 transport aircraft have been coming and going from the embattled Khartoum International Airport, with some reports suggesting about 16,000 foreigners are still trapped in the country as fighting continues.

President Biden said on the matter, "This tragic violence in Sudan has already cost the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians. It’s unconscionable, and it must stop. The belligerent parties must implement an immediate and unconditional ceasefire, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and respect the will of the people of Sudan."

Confirming the evacuations success, Biden said, "I am proud of the extraordinary commitment of our Embassy staff, who performed their duties with courage and professionalism and embodied America’s friendship and connection with the people of Sudan," Biden wrote. "I am grateful for the unmatched skill of our service members who successfully brought them to safety."

The World Health Organization reports that at least 413 people have been killed, while estimates suggest 3,551 wounded.

One American citizen has been confirmed killed in the fighting. The U.S. State Department released a statement to Fox News saying, "We can confirm the death of one U.S. citizen in Sudan. We are in touch with the family and offer our deepest condolences to them on their loss. Out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have nothing further to add." 


April 24th, 2023 - The body of Spanish Fascist Leader Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera is set today to be exhumed for the fourth time, and buried for the fifth time as Spain seeks to move away from its fascist past. Rivera was the founder of Spain’s Falange party. His exhumation follows the exhumation of Francisco Franco, who was exhumed in 2019. Both of their bodies were residing in a mausoleum built Franco nearby Madrid, in a place he’d named the “Valley of the Fallen”. Since, the valley has been returned to its original name, “Valley of Cuelgamuros”. The Spanish government is seeking to turn the mausoleum into a monument to victims of the civil war, which killed 500,000 people, but has several hurdles to jump over first. Rivera’s body was just one of 34,000 people buried in its extensive crypts. The government is hoping to open them up to permit families to come in and, hopefully, identify their long deceased relatives. 

April 21st, 2023 - Romania and Poland have temporarily lifted their ban on Ukrainian grain, which was instated on April 15th, as they await a European Commission decision on the matter. Romania and Poland were two of five nations, the other three being Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which instated bans on Ukrainian grain being held in their country. They stated that the excess of tariff-free Ukrainian grain flowing into their countries was harming their local farmers by drastically lowering prices. “We are the main solidarity corridor for the Ukrainian grain which we organised, we'll keep it and we (will) maintain it out of respect for the Ukrainian people. We are in solidarity with farmers from other countries - Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Slovakia - as they are in solidarity with us also and with the Ukrainian farmers, but we must make the rules together”, said Romanian Agriculture Minister Petre Daea. 

Middle East

April 23rd, 2023 - Israel has arrested a Jordanian MP for allegedly smuggling weapons and gold into the West Bank. While Israel has not officially commented on the matter, Jordan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated they are “working to find out the merit of the situation and address it as soon as possible”. Imad Adwan, the MP who was arrested, is a member of the Palestine Committee. He was allegedly caught with a number of M4 style rifles, as well as dozens of handguns. The amount of gold is thusfar unknown, but unconfirmed reports state he had 100 kilograms of it. 

April 24th, 2023 - As much of the Middle East reaches out to each other in efforts of peace, Russia is set to help out. On the 25th Russia is to hold a meeting between the Syrian, Turkish, Iranian, and Russian Defence ministers and intelligence chiefs as they seek to normalize ties between Turkey and Syria. “Our aim is to solve the problems through negotiations and to bring peace to the region as soon as possible”, said Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar. Though this meeting is a step in the right direction for normalization, there are significant barriers in the way. Namely, Syrian President Assad has stated he will only ever meet with Turkish President Erdogan if he withdraws his troops from Northern Syria. As it presently stands, this is unlikely to happen as Turkish troops engage Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists. 


April 21st, 2023 - A Burkinabé prosecutor has stated that around 60 civilians were killed in an attack by “people wearing the uniforms of the Burkinabé armed forces”. The attack took place on the village of Karma, close by their border with Mali. Besides the prosecutor stating that they would begin an investigation, and he had “given the necessary instructions (...) in order to elucidate them and to arrest all those involved”, the statement didn’t really offer any extra details. Witnesses state that “more than 100 people” on motorbikes and in pick-up trucks raided the village, who then “executed dozens of men and youths”. Though the prosecutor has stated the death toll is around 60, witnesses have stated it is “around 80”. 

April 23rd, 2023 - The Ethiopian government is set to, for the first time, sit down for talks with the Oromo Liberation Army, a rebel group in Ethiopia. The talks are set to be held in Tanzania and begin on Tuesday the 25th. Given the OLA has been engaged with the government on and off for several decades, this is a significant step. The OLA claims oppression and neglect of the Oromo people. “The people of Ethiopia and the government eagerly need this negotiation” said Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. These talks, of course, follow the November 2022 peace deal which saw the governments war with Tigrayan forces come to a close. 

The Americas

April 24th, 2023 - Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido has entered Colombia today where he hopes to attend a summit hosted by Colombian President Gustavo Petro that aims to find a solution to the Venezuelan political/economic crisis that has seen much of the country plunged into poverty, and inflation skyrocket. Guaido, who crossed into Colombia on foot, stated “I hope this summit can ensure that the Maduro regime returns to the negotiating table in Mexico and agrees to a credible timetable for free and fair elections to solve the current situation”. Negotiations between Guaido and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro began in 2021, hosted in Mexico, but have halted since November. 

April 24th, 2023 - Guatemala appears to be drifting away from its neighbour, Honduras, as Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei today arrived in Taiwan in order to further reinforce diplomatic ties, much to the dismay of China. President Giammattei stated the trip is meaning to send a “clear message that countries have a right to self-governance”. Earlier in the week, on the 19th, China released a statement warning the President “not to help evildoers and go against the general global trend and aspirations of the Guatemalan people for their own benefit”, to which Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry responded it was “extremely disrespectful remarks to insult our diplomatic ally and its head of state”. The visit to Taiwan follows Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Guatemala earlier this month. 

Asia and Oceania

April 18th, 2023 - The Indonesian military suffered several casualties after they were ambushed by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) while searching for captured New Zealander pilot Philip Mehrtens. Out of the 36 strong search party, 4 were killed, and 5 were wounded, according to Indonesian authorities. Reportedly, one soldier is also still missing, a significant drop from initial reports stating that 30 were missing. However, the Papuan rebels are disputing Indonesia’s reported numbers, stating they are in possession of the remains of 12 soldiers. Mehrtens has been in captivity by the TPNPB since February 7th, who stated they would only release him should Indonesia grant them independence. Since then, however, they have stated they would negotiate his release, as Mehrtens is “not our enemy”. 

April 23rd, 2023 - After a 35 day long manhunt, the Indian government has arrested Sikh separatist leader Amritpal Singh. He was arrested in the Punjab town of Moga. Singh heads a Khalistan separatist movement, and has led a number of marches and various protests since he rose to prominence in 2022. The manhunt for Singh began in March, a few weeks after in February when him and hundreds of his supporters stormed a police station in Ajnala, another town in Punjab. The manhunt saw internet and cellular services shut down a number of times as well as hundreds of people arrested. Singh’s supporters have claimed he surrendered himself to police after they surrounded Moga, though this has not been confirmed by authorities. After his arrest, he has been flown out of state to Dibrugarh, where he will be held until he is charged. 

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