The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 21

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, June 19th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

It has been an immensely busy week for the entire world, with many large calibre events not making it onto the newsletter. Worry not, for as always, many of them have been covered on the Atlas News App and Website.

Now diving into this weeks events, in Europe we have a daring attempt by Azeri border guards, shakeups in Romania’s government, and Russian nukes officially deployed in Belarus. In the Middle East, the US pledges aid to Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia continue to make peace, and Israel launches strikes in Damascus. For Africa, a delegation of 7 nations makes an appeal to Putin, a school in Uganda is attacked, and a temporary truce in Sudan holds. In the Americas heatwaves strike Mexico, Peru’s ‘Shining Path’ suffers losses, and China and Honduras expand cooperation. In Asia, floods strike Nepal and India, while India also suffers from a severe heatwave and continued ethnic clashes.

As usual, it’s just another day at the office. Let's take a look:

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

Iran and Saudi Arabia Mend Ties, Israel Worried

Sunday, June 18th, 2023: According to Iranian state media, Saudi Arabia's top diplomat arrived in the capital of Iran on Saturday, signaling another significant step towards restoring diplomatic ties between the two rival nations in the Middle East. Iranian state media reported that Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received an official welcome from his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian. Prince Faisal brought a message from the Saudi king to Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, and a meeting between the two leaders was scheduled for later on Saturday.

The relationship between predominantly Shiite Iran and majority Sunni Saudi Arabia has long been strained. In 2016, Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric sparked demonstrations in Iran, leading to the attack on Saudi diplomatic posts by protesters. Consequently, the two nations severed ties. However, earlier this year, with assistance from China, the agreement to reestablish diplomatic relations became a significant breakthrough for the balance of power in the Middle East, reducing the likelihood of further conflict between Riyadh and Tehran. These two nations have been engaged in a proxy war within neighboring countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.

Prince Faisal is expected to officially open the Saudi embassy in Tehran later on Saturday. Until the mission is completed, embassy employees are temporarily working from a hotel in Tehran.

This restoration of relations raises uncertainties regarding the Israeli-Saudi relationship. In recent years, several Arab states in the region, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, have established healthier ties with Israel. Saudi Arabia and Israel have always shared a common interest in countering the Iranian threat, which has somewhat eased relations between the two nations. Both countries have set conditions for normalization.

Over the years, there have been numerous meetings between Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli officials. In November 2017, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, the Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, granted an exclusive interview to Saudi media, confirming Israel's desire to exchange experiences and intelligence with moderate Arab countries to confront Iran. He also noted the existence of a complete agreement on certain matters between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Similar sentiments have been echoed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In March 2023, it was reported that Saudi Arabia sought assurances from the United States for establishing normalized relations with Israel. These assurances included assistance in developing a civilian nuclear program, reducing restrictions on US arms sales, and providing security guarantees. The news of this proposal emerged shortly before the announcement that the seven-year diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran would come to an end, undoubtedly casting uncertainty over the future of Israeli security relations with its Arab neighbors.

During their meeting on Saturday, Iran and Saudi Arabia issued a joint statement reaffirming their shared commitment to supporting the people of Palestine.


June 15th, 2023 - An Azeri border guard was wounded after a small group of Azeri troops attempted to plant their flag in Armenian territory. The incident took place at the Hakari Bridge at the Hakari border terminal. The group of Azeri troops carried their flag across the border, and were fired at by Armenian troops when they crossed into Armenian territory and began planting their flag. The injured Azeri guard was only lightly injured, and Azerbaijan stated that he was recovering in a medical facility. Azerbaijan accused Armenia of being the aggressor, and in turn has halted all humanitarian aid from reaching Artsakh, which was already heavily restricted. The Red Cross, which has been transferring medical patients between Armenia and Artsakh for a number of months now, has also been barred from transporting through the Azeri controlled Lachin corridor.

The blood spot on the bridge from the wounded Azeri border guard.

June 12th, 2023 - Romanian Prime Minister, Nicolae Ciuca, announced his resignation alongside his announcement of the end of the Romanian Teachers strike. He stated that the government was able to pass legislation in order to resolve the strike, which will be enacted this coming January. “Therefore, considering that this conflict has been resolved and as we have assumed and I have assumed, today is the moment when I conclude my term as the prime minister of Romania”, said Ciuca. His resignation is apart of a larger government reshuffle, which was originally supposed to take place on May 25th, but was postponed due to the teachers strike which began on May 22nd.

June 16th, 2023 - Russian President Putin has confirmed that Russian nuclear weapons have officially been deployed in Belarus, ominously stating that they were “only the first”. This follows Belarusian President Lukashenko’s statement on the 13th that the process to transfer the weapons to Belarus had began “little by little”.

Middle East

June 18th, 2023 - USAID, the United States Agency for International Development, has announced a 920 million dollar aid package for Syria in order to help ease the multitude of humanitarian crises that Syria is plagued with. The money is to go to Syrian refugee camps, building supplies, food supplies, as well as placement support for those who are displaced. Additionally, the US is appealing to the UN in order to try and resume cross-border assistance from Turkey, in order to assist Northwestern Syria which is not under Government control. The 920 million brings the total US aid sent to Syria in 2023 to 1.1 billion, which they say has been crucial in bringing stability.

June 17th, 2023 - The Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Iran met together in Tehran in the first such visit by a Saudi official in 7 years. The Saudi Minister also met Iranian President Ebrahin Raisi. The visit marks significant progress in the two nations attempts at not only re-establishing relations with each other, but continuing to grow closer, fostering further cooperation. Particularly Iran stated they hope to reach 1 billion dollars in annual trade with the Saudi’s. Considering trade currently sits at an annual 15 million, this is an ambitious goal.

The Iranian and Saudi Foreign Ministers together in China (Photo from Iranian Foreign Ministry/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images).

June 13th, 2023 - Syrian air defences were activated as Israel launches a number of strikes nearby Damascus, reportedly attacking the headquarters of the Syrian Army’s 1st Division. Israel frequently targets both the Syrian military targets, Iranian military targets, as well as Iranian supplied/allied militant groups operating in Syria with airstrikes.


June 17th, 2023 - Africa’s Peace Delegation demanded directly to Putin that the Russian invasion of Ukraine must stop. A delegation of 7 African national leaders arrived in St. Petersburg in order to meet with Putin, after having met with Ukrainian President Zelensky. “This war has to have an end. It must be settled through negotiations and through diplomatic means”, said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to Putin. While Ramaphosa delivered the African delegations 10 point peace initiative, Putin interrupted and offered his well known words that blamed the west for the war, and stated Russia was pursuing peace but Ukraine had blocked any attempts. After the delegations talks with Zelensky, Zelensky stated peace talks could only be possible if Russia were to withdraw from Ukrainian territory. While the delegation was not expected to be successful in ending the war in any capacity, many believe that since Africa is certainly no stranger to regional conflict that they may have much to offer in the way of putting an end to the war.

President Putin and President Ramaphosa pictured together (Photo from Ramil Sitdikov/Host photo agency RIA Novosti via REUTERS).

June 16th, 2023 - 37 students have been killed 8 injured, and an additional 6 abducted in the first attack on a Ugandan school in 25 years. Though there have been no official claims of responsibility for the attack, Uganda and many others have blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Uganda has stated that they have chased a number of militants across the border into the DRC, where the ADF is presently based, and that they are hunting for the militants. The attackers wielded machetes, set fire to the dormitory, and reportedly used a bomb as well. 17 of those killed were burned to death by the fire, and authorities have said identification for some will be difficult. Ugandan authorities have not released the age of those killed.

June 19th, 2023 - Khartoum is experiencing a brief moment of much needed peace as a temporary truce appears to be holding. A 72 hour truce, which is due to end on Wednesday at 6AM local time, as humanitarian groups rush to bring in as much aid as they can to the struggling populace. Amid the drastic heat, sections of Sudan’s population, particularly in Khartoum, is living without electricity and running water as facilities become inoperable due to the fighting. Despite the number of truces established to allow for humanitarian work, many aid groups claim their efforts are being hampered. Around 30 organizations have been waiting for visa applications to be approved to be able to go to Sudan, and for those that can go they face severe restriction through customs.

The Americas

June 17, 2023 - Mexican officials found 129 illegal migrants in the back of a semi truck during an atypical heat wave that has rocked the country, where temperatures have reached above 45°C (113°F). Luckily no casualties were reported during the National Migration Institute’s statement on Saturday. The migrants are from a multitude of countries, including India, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. The group also included 16 unaccompanied minors, who have been taken into state guardianship. Illegal immigration has long since been a problem for both Mexico and the United States, as many migrants have been forced from their homes due to conflicts in their home countries. A large number of these migrants come from Guatemala, where political strife and crime have led many citizens to seek a safer home. Earlier this year, Mexican officials discovered another 175 migrants further south in Chiapas State, while another 300 were taken into custody at a checkpoint in Veracruz. The heatwave has already claimed eight lives, seven of whom died of heatstroke and another of dehydration. Emergency services have attempted to help mitigate these heat casualties by handing out water on the streets of Monterrey. Monterrey has faced both power and water shortages due to the sheer power of the heatwave, leaving many of the city’s residents without any air conditioning. "There is a lack of water; you can’t bathe the children or even use a fan because they cut the power," said Wendy Tijerina, a Monterrey resident. The city has also cut school hours to just two hours to help mitigate children’s exposure to the sun in an effort to curb heat casualties.

June 15, 2023 - Two of the most wanted leaders of The Shining Path, a Maoist revolutionary group located in Peru, have been captured by Peruvian security forces, dealing them a crippling blow. The two leaders, known as Carlos Zuniga and "Yohel," were captured on Wednesday in the Andean region of Ayacucho, where the Shining Path was founded. The two are thought to be behind two recent attacks, the most recent being an ambush on police officers in Peru’s region of Cusco in February of last year, which claimed 7 officers lives, as well as a massacre that claimed 16 civilian lives in a remote region known as the Valley of the Rivers Apurímac, Ene, and Matero (VREAM). The Shining Path’s ongoing war against the Peruvian government has been said to have led to the deaths and disappearances of upwards of 69,000 people.

June 12, 2023 - China has expressed its willingness to open free trade talks with Honduras, according to President Xi Jinping during talks with Honduras’ president, Xiomara Castro. Castro was on a six-day visit to China in an effort to strengthen economic ties and help relieve the country's debt. Official diplomatic relations began in March after the Central American country broke decades-old ties with Taiwan following requests for "billions of dollars" in economic aid for Honduras, where Honduran officials "compared prices for assistance programs provided by Taiwan and China," according to Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu. "You have resolutely fulfilled your election promise of establishing diplomatic relations with China, made a historic decision, and demonstrated your firm political will," Xi told Castro during talks in Beijing. China is said to be actively promoting Honduran products to enter the Chinese market, with the import of white-leg shrimp being the first product approved to enter the country. China has also encouraged Chinese enterprises to participate in Honduras' projects in energy, infrastructure, and telecommunications, while Honduras’ is reportedly open to providing policy support and facilitation. Honduras officially opened an embassy with China last week, leading United States officials to express concern over China’s expanding influence across the globe. US officials have also warned countries to exercise caution when dealing with China, claiming that they rarely fulfill their promises of economic assistance.

The Honduran and Chinese foreign ministers (Photo from Greg Baker/AP).

Asia and Oceania

June 19, 2023 - At least 54 people have died in Uttar Pradesh, India, following sweeping heat waves that have devastated the region. While 45 others have died in the neighboring state of Bihar. Government officials have said they are investigating the deaths to confirm if the heat wave is responsible. "Deaths have occurred in the district, but it is very difficult to say if that happened due to the heat wave," Ravindra Kumar, the top administrative official of the district, told Reuters. "A few of the deaths are related to old age, while some have different reasons. There is no concrete evidence that the heat wave is behind these deaths." Temperatures have reached up to 45°C (113°F) in Ballia, while a power shortage has left many without any chance of reprieve. Other regions in India are also facing severe weather, as India’s northeastern Assam has suffered from similar floods and landslides caused by heavy rains that have struck Nepal.

June 18, 2023 - At least one person was killed with 25 others missing following flash floods and landslides caused by heavy rains which struck Eastern Nepal. The rains have also destroyed a hydroelectric project under construction on the Hewa River in Sankhuwasabha district of Nepal where 16 workers have gone missing. "One body has been recovered while police are searching for the missing laborers," Bimal Paudel, a government official, told the press. Nine others have gone missing in flash floods and landslides in the neighboring Taplejung and Panchthar districts, bordering India in the east. While two bridges on the Mechi highway, which connects the Taplejung district to others within the Mechi province, have reportedly been damaged during the storm, cutting off access to the remote Taplejung district where four of the people are missing. The rains along with the damage to the bridges have prevented rescue teams from undergoing operations within the region leaving some villages without aid.

June 14, 2023 - Nine people have been killed following ethnic clashes in India’s northeastern state of Manipur, adding to clashes between members of the Kuki ethnic group, a group of Christian majority tribespeople dominant in the hills, and Meiteis, the dominant community in the lowlands, that have been ongoing since May 3rd. The casualties come after an apparent firefight between the two ethnic groups on Tuesday that went on for several hours. "We have reports of at least nine deaths and 10 injuries so far," said K. Shivakanta Singh, a senior police official. "The situation remains volatile." Just two days after the clash, the house of Indian Federal Minister, R. K. Ranjan Singh, was set ablaze by a mob. Singh is part of the Meiteis, leading some to speculate those behind the fire are Kuki. Federal reinforcements have been sent to the region, and a search for illegal arms has been launched. The clashes began when Kuki groups protested the possible extension of economic aid and quotas to the Meiteis, expanding their range of employment and education to positions reserved for the Kuki. Meiteis have lived in Manipur’s fertile valleys and are said to have better access to employment and educational opportunities, while Kukis live in the less prosperous and underdeveloped hills, which has led to longtime disputes between the two groups. Organizations from both the Meitei and Kuki communities have refused to join a peace committee set up by the federal government to attempt to broker peace between the two ethnic groups.

To access all the benefits of an Atlas News subscription, sign in or subscribe.

Thanks for reading.

Our Partners

The Atlas News has partnered with WRMFZY to bring you guy's some awesome merch and other goodies.

More to come!

Join the fastest-growing news company in the world. Covering geopolitics, conflict, terrorism, crime, business, wall-street, underreported stories, and places in the world you've never heard of. Comments, twitter-style brief updates, long-form articles, full podcasts, and documentaries. Join 30,000+ members today on the Atlas News App.

Atlas News

What do you think of todays Atlas Newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.


If you'd like to get involved in anyway with Atlas News, please reach out to us with your experience or ideas. If you're a solid fit, we'll be in touch. – The Atlas News Team

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2022 Atlas News.1