The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 18

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, May 29th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

Another big week for the news; truly, the world doesn’t sleep. Jumping right in, we see that in Europe, Armenia and Azerbaijan argue in front of Putin, two Balkan neighbors are back at each other’s throats, and Spain dissolves it’s parliament. In the Middle East, Iran and Afghanistan have border skirmishes, Pakistan experiences more terrorism, and Saudi Arabia and Canada attempt to mend relations. Africa prepares for the formation of a new nation, the United Kingdom and Ethiopia argue over historical remains, and Uganda wishes to send nurses to Britain. In the Americas, Haiti sees a drop in crime, Nicaragua continues it’s war on the Vatican, and Guatemala experiences election controversy. Then in Asia and Oceania, Japan prepares for a North Korean launch, ethnic fighting continues in India, and Australia loses an influential politician.

All is well when it’s just another day at the office. Let's see what we got:

- Joshua Paulo, Sebastien Gray, Trent Barr & the Atlas team

Erdogan Re-elected

(Photo - Reuters)

Sunday, May 28th, 2023: As vote counting wrapped up Sunday, it became clear to the world that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has achieved victory over his ideological opposition in Turkey’s runoff election.

State-run news agency Anadolu has Erdogan polling at 52.16% of the vote, having gotten 49.5% in the initial election. Kilicdaroglu sits slightly below at 47.84%, having gotten 44.89% in the initial election. The Turkish Supreme Election Council (YSK) has officially announced the incumbent, Erdogan, as the winner.

In securing this victory, President Erdogan is set to continue his 20-year rule over Turkey, though perhaps not with the mandate he previously had hoped, due to his narrow victory. Despite this, Erdogan has promised to lower inflation and provide relief to those affected by terrorism and the devastating February earthquake. He has also promised to resettle millions of Syrian refugees, in an agreement with Qatar, back to Syria and take a more hardline stance against the "LGBT agenda" in Turkey.

Celebrations took to the streets throughout the world, with mass gatherings in Turkey, Germany, and, in particular, Syria, where Turkish-backed militants fired off ammunition and fireworks in celebration of Erdogan’s victory. Protests were expected but scare, as the Turkish military was out in heavy presence throughout the nation Sunday night. Kilicdaroglu conceded the election, with many in his party calling for his resignation, and a few others doubting the integrity of the election.

Many opponents of President Erdogan fear he will lead Turkey away from a Western-centric foreign policy, highlighting Turkey’s squabbles and skirmishes with it’s neighbors in Greece, Armenia, and Syria, as well as attacking NATO’s Kurdish allies and buying arms from Russia. Recent comments from Erdogan’s cabinet members suggested pro-American policies could be considered treacherous. There is no question that tensions between NATO and Turkey have been high in recent years, with neither side willing to part ways with the other or able to defuse tensions. Human rights watchdogs warn Turkey has been internally growing more authoritarian under Erdogan, and although it is preferred that Western nations and allies be free and open secular democracies, this is not always the case and is not necessarily an indicator of Turkey being removed from NATO.

Turks also voted in the initial to elect a new parliament, with a tight race formed between the People's Alliance, made up of Erdogan's conservative Islamic AK Party (AKP), the nationalist MHP, and others, versus Kilicdaroglu's Nation Alliance, formed of six opposition parties, including his own moderate Republican People's Party (CHP), established by Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Parliament’s votes currently sit with AKP at 35.58%, CHP at 25.33%, MHP at 10.07%, IYI at 9.69%, YSP at 8.81%, and TIP at 1.73% of seats in the parliament.

In Turkey, the president and parliament are elected for five year terms.


May 25th, 2023 - At a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev not only interrupted Russian President Putin while he was talking but also argued back and forth for several minutes. The argument began when Pashinyan corrected Aliyev over incorrect terminology regarding the Lachin corridor, where he also further accused Azerbaijan of causing a humanitarian crisis by blocking the corridor, which Aliyev denied. The argument comes at a time when both Pashinyan and Aliyev have agreed upon mutual recognition of each other's territories. Though Pashinyan has once again reiterated that there should be dialogue between Stepanakert (the capital of the Republic of Artsakh) and Baku over the issue, both have shown little willingness to do so.

Prime Minister Pashinyan speaks to President Putin at the Council meeting (Photo from

May 26th, 2023 - Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have once again risen drastically as Serbia deploys troops to the border, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has placed the military on full combat readiness alert. The deployment comes amid severe clashes between ethnic Serbs living in Kosovo and Kosovar police. The protests began when the Serbs attempted to stop ethnic Albanian politicians from entering their offices after they won elections in the Serbian regions of North Kosovo. They won due to the widespread Serb boycott of the elections, meaning the politicians won on a mostly Albanian vote. In response to tensions, NATO peacekeeping forces have been deployed in northern Kosovo.

May 29th, 2023 - Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced he is dissolving parliament after his coalition seemed to be suffering preliminary losses in today’s regional election. The dissolution of parliament will bring with it snap elections, something he’d said twice he would not do, including most recently in March. The next Spanish election will be held on July 23rd. This is the fifth time Spain’s parliament has been dissolved since 2011.

Middle East

May 27, 2023 - Two Iranian border guards and one Afghan Taliban fighter were killed following a skirmish between the two countries this Saturday regarding the water rights of a nearby town. Several civilians are also reported to have been injured during the clash. The skirmish occurred at the Sasoli Checkpoint, a minor checkpoint between the two nations. Iran accused the Taliban of violating a 1973 treaty concerning limiting water in Iran’s eastern regions earlier this month, which the Taliban fervently denies. It is currently unclear who started the conflict, as both nations have condemned the other for the incident, notably Abdul Nafi Takor, the spokesman for the Taliban-run interior ministry. "Today, in Nimroz province, Iranian border forces fired toward Afghanistan, which was met with a counter-reaction," he said in a statement on Saturday "The situation is under control now. The Islamic Emirate does not want to fight with its neighbors." Iran’s deputy police chief, Qasem Rezaei, was quick to deny the accusation, instead blaming the Taliban for the skirmish, saying, "Without observing international laws and good neighborliness, Taliban forces started shooting at the Sasoli checkpoint... drawing a decisive response." The clash comes after the Taliban began damming the Helmand River, which flows on the border between the two nations. The damming has resulted in a loss of water to Iran’s already parched eastern regions.

An Afghan border guard stands watch near the border with Iran. (Photo - AFP)

May 24, 2023 - Two soldiers, a police officer, and a civilian were killed in a suicide bombing in Pakistan Wednesday after military personnel conducted a road stop on a suspicious vehicle. The bombing took place in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan and was a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban group, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. While no group has taken responsibility for the bombing, officials and critics alike have suspected the TTP of being responsible after they ended the ceasefire between the Pakistani government and themselves. Multiple civilians were also injured in the bombing, according to officials. "It was a suicide attack, and the bomber blew himself up during a road check," Rasool Daraz told the media. The military has stated they believe the bomber was originally targeting a nearby public gathering, but military personnel "prevented a major catastrophe" by immediately intercepting the car bomber. The TTP has been increasing their attacks in recent months, claiming responsibility for another attack on an oil and gas plant on Wednesday that resulted in the deaths of four security personnel and two private guards.

May 24th, 2023 - As the Middle East continues to pursue a path of relative peace compared to the past few years, Saudi Arabia is pursuing peace with another nation, Canada. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada were frozen in 2018 after a tweet called for the release of a blogger that had been arrested by the Saudi Government. A mere two days afterward they expelled Canada’s ambassador, recalled their own, suspended new trade (except for oil), canceled scholarships for Saudi students in Canada, and also ceased services to Toronto. The Canadian government, however, announced that after a long few months of discussion, the two nations will soon resume relations.


May 25th, 2023 - Kenyan President William Ruto has asked the East African Community’s (EAC) "Committee of Experts" to "fast-track" the creation of the constitution for a nation soon to be born, the East African Federation (EAF). The East African Federation would see the seven nations of the EAC, namely Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, the DRC, Tanzania, and South Sudan, united into one nation. The EAC has already completed steps 2 and 4 for unification: a customs union as well as a common market, which have significantly contributed to the economies of the member states. Step three is to have a unified currency, the East African Shilling, and then finally, unification. The EAC still has many obstacles to overcome before it unifies, but hopes are high that it could help bring lasting peace to the region.

The East African Community Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The seven flags of the member states are on display (Photo from

May 24th, 2023 - The United Kingdom has once again refused Ethiopia’s request to have the remains of Abyssinian Prince Dejatch Alemayehu returned to Ethiopia, his homeland. He was taken from Abyssinia at 7 years old after he was orphaned in the Battle of Magdala, where the British victory caused his father to commit suicide. He was taken to the UK, where he lived until his death by pleurisy at 18 years old. He is buried in St. George’s Chapel at Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace, though they have previously expressed a wish to return his remains, has continually come up with varying excuses not to. This time, stating it would be difficult to exhume his remains "without disturbing the resting place of a substantial number of others in the vicinity".

May 24th, 2023 - The Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union and the United Kingdom are in talks for a deal that would send 3,000 Ugandan nurses to the UK. While Uganda has its own healthcare problems, they also have an employment crisis, particularly concerning nurses. Each year, approximately 5000 nurses graduate from Ugandan universities and institutions, but only 2000 of them are able to be hired by the government. The remaining 3000 are, hopefully, to be sent to the UK, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia. Uganda needs to employ 55,000 nurses to properly service its healthcare needs, but only employs 28,000 due to a lack of funding.

The Americas

May 28, 2023 - Haitian gang-related crime rate has dropped drastically following the formation of Haitian vigilante groups. The vigilante group, known as "Bwa Kale," was formed after the lynching of at least a dozen gang members on April 24th. CARDH has reported that at least 160 bandits have been lynched and burned alive in the country following Bwa Kale’s formation, leading some to fear retaliatory attacks being launched by gangs. These attacks are not uncommon in Haiti, as following resistance from citizens of Source Matelas, gangs massacred and burned at least 20 women and children, killing 14. CARDH also reports that there are "almost no cases of kidnappings being reported" in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

Notorious Haitian gang leader Jimmy Cherizier rallies supporters during unrest. (Photo - AP)

May 27, 2023 - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega continues his ceaseless attack on the Catholic Church, freezing parish bank accounts on claims of money laundering. Ortega has been a fierce opponent of the Church in Nicaragua following the 2018 anti-government protests, which led to the deaths of at least 360 protestors. Ortega’s regime has accused the clergy, who mediated the protests, of attempting a coup. Police claim investigations "confirmed the unlawful removal of resources from bank accounts that had been ordered by law to be frozen."They went on to say the accounts of interest were owned by clergy convicted of treason and other crimes, further stating that the funds entered the country irregularly. Ortega has previously banned numerous Catholic practices and charities, including Lenten Processions. Ortega has also imprisoned and coerced many of his opponents, including journalists and human rights advocates, many of whom are clergy. One opponent was Bishop Alvarez, who was convicted on charges of inciting violence, treason, and undermining national integrity in February of this year following his criticisms of the government.

May 26, 2023 - Guatemala's presidential frontrunner, Carlos Pineda, has been officially kicked off the ballot following a ruling by the country’s constitutional court on Friday. Pineda was originally kicked off the ballot last week following accusations of "noncompliance with rules governing the nomination process." The ruling comes after numerous other opposition candidates were also removed from the ballot, including leftist Thelma Cabrera and conservative Roberto Arzu, leading many to believe that current President Alejandro Giammattei is attempting to lead the election. "Corruption won, Guatemala lost!" Pineda tweeted following the news. Giametti has faced backlash from critics accusing him of repressing judges, journalists, and activists, forcing them to flee the country. Pineda was leading the race by 23%, according to a recent poll earlier this month.

Asia and Oceania

May 28th, 2023 - North Korea has announced it’s intentions to launch a military satellite sometime between June 1 and June 11. It is unclear the exact specifications of the new satellite, but many experts speculate it would likely be used to observe US, South Korean, and Japanese military sites. The Japanese Self Defense Force has been set on high alert and has been told to prepare to shoot the missile down should it pass into Japanese territory. The JSDF will likely utilize their American-made Patriot missile systems or the navy’s Aegis destroyer to intercept the launch. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated to reporters, "A launch using ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious matter concerning the safety of the people." This would mark the first time since 2016 that North Korea has launched a satellite.

Japanese Self Defense Force personnel prepare a Patriot missile battery during heightened tensions with North Korea. (Photo - AP/Shizuo Kambayashi)

May 28th, 2023 - Violence continues throughout Manipur as ethnic and religious tensions continue to heighten. 40 Kuki tribals have been killed by security forces so far, with two more deaths this weekend, one of which was a police officer. Police have said that dozens have also been wounded this weekend, ahead of Chief Minister Biren Singh's scheduled visit to the region. Since widespread fighting began on May 3, sporadic incidents of arson, shootings, and mob attacks have continued as common occurrences, with the military operating stiff crackdowns. The fighting is primarily between the minority ethnic Kuki tribals, who are Christians, and the local Hindu majority.

May 29th, 2023 - Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan has announced he is retiring from politics in a sudden and surprising announcement. The 55-year-old was re-elected in 2021 in a remarkable landslide, winning 53 of the 59 seats in the state's lower house. "The truth is I'm tired, extremely tired. In fact, I'm exhausted," he said. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the state in my community over this time.” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said McGowan called him that same morning to notify him of his resignation. Despite being a well-liked political powerhouse, McGowan has no current plans to return to politics, explaining that the toll of the job was too much for him, especially during the COVID era. "I'm going to have a break for a while. Once I'm rested and recuperated, I'll look for something to do," McGowan stated.

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