The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 27

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday July 31st 2023

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today. In Europe, Poland and Belarus continue tensions at their borders, Georgia holds anti-Russian protests, and Russia promises support to the African nations affected by the failed Russia-Ukraine Grain Deal. Over in the Middle East, there’s a catastrophic bombing in Pakistan, the Lion’s Den outlines their strategy against Israel, and Saudi Arabia is set to attempt peace in Ukraine. Meanwhile in Africa, Kenya prepares to deploy to Haiti, Senegalese opposition declares a hunger strike, and the US punishes Mali for it’s ties to Wagner Group. In the Americas, the Colombian president’s family is charged with corruption, a grain silo explodes in Brazil, and Ecuador and Colombia host talks over a border skirmish. Then, in Asia and Oceania, China faces severe flooding and crop damage amid record-breaking storms, and Japan combats Chinese influence in Sri Lanka.

Another dollar, another day at the office. Let's see what we have:

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

Successful Coup in Niger

Sunday, July 30th, 2023: (1 Minute Read) Members of the Republican Guard of Niger imprisoned President Muhammad Bazoum in his palace on Wednesday. Initial reports suggested the coup would fail as the military and the West were on the side of the government. However, later in the day, it became clear the military was indeed working alongside the coup and the president had been deposed when a group of soldiers appeared on the nation’s state television, claiming to have taken over the presidency.

General Abdourahmane "Omar" Tchiani has officially declared himself the head of state. Speaking on state television on Friday, Tchiani said Niger needed to change course to avoid "the gradual and inevitable demise" of its systems. He highlighted Niger’s deteriorating security, economic hardship, and widespread corruption. He also announced the suspension of the constitution in Niger and the dissolution of the main state institutions.

Niger has witnessed extremist attacks targeting civilians and military personnel, although the overall security situation is comparatively less severe than in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso.

Both Mali and Burkina Faso have undergone similar coups and have both ousted the French military from their borders in favor of Russia’s Wagner Group. Many international analysts worry the same may occur in Niger, with rhetoric already accusing France of not respecting the sovereignty of Niger.

The situation is still developing as of the release of this newsletter, as the surrounding West African alliance, ECOWAS, has threatened to invade Niger if they do not reinstall the president.


July 29th, 2023 - An estimated 100 Wagner soldiers have been spotted on Poland's eastern border with Belarus, according to Poland’s Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki. The soldiers are said to have moved to the Belarusian city of Grodno, which is located nearby the Suwalki Gap, a key region that spans the Polish-Lithuanian border, which separates Belarus from Russian Kaliningrad. Morawiecki claims that the Wagner troops may pose as border guards and help smuggle illegal immigrants into Poland in an effort to destabilize the nation, a tactic that has previously been used by Belarus. However, Anton Motolko, the leader of the Belarusian opposition Hajun project, which monitors military action in Belarus, told Reuters that his organization had not observed any indication that Wagner was approaching Grodno.

July 31st, 2023 - A large protest was held in Batumi, Georgia, against the arrival of a cruise ship full of Russian tourists, including a number of Russian celebrities. Tensions between Russians and Georgians in the nation have risen drastically over the last several days. On July 27th, the same ship, the Astoria Grande, arrived with Russian tourists, some of whom were interviewed by Georgian news companies. Some of the tourists interviewed made incredibly inflammatory remarks, including one who stated, "We liberated Abkhazia from you." The remarks caused national anger against Russians and have produced regular street fights between Georgians and Russians.

A photo of the protest in Batumi against the cruise ship on July 27th (Photo from Batumlebi/Manana Kveliashvili)

July 30th, 2023 - Following the collapse of the Russian-Ukrainian grain deal, several nations in Africa are raising the issue of potential further food scarcity, as many of them receive grain imports from either Russia or Ukraine. Announced at the Russia-Africa Economic and Humanitarian Forum, Putin stated that Russia "will be ready to provide Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and Eritrea with 25,000–50,000 metric tons of grain free of charge". The move also comes as Russia continually seeks to grow its influence in Africa.

Middle East

July 30th, 2023 - At least 44 people (some estimates say upwards of 55) have been killed and close to 200 injured after a suicide bombing targeted a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party workers’ convention in Pakistan. The explosion took place near a stage on which several senior party leaders were seated; however, party leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not present. No claim of responsibility has yet been made, but early investigations have suggested ISIS is responsible.

July 28th, 2023 - The Lions’ Den made a lengthy statement that outlines their strategy for combating Israel and spells a potential change for Palestinian militancy in general. The past few months have been marked by particular silence from the Lions’ Den, strikingly different from the initial very public showings that saw them rise to popularity. In essence, they have been and will continue to rely on unannounced attacks upon Israeli military checkpoints and West Bank settlements, calling it "terrifying silence". They are attempting to make Israeli intelligence gathering on the Lions’ Den leadership structure and militaristic capabilities more difficult and have also stated they will only make announcements when they deem it necessary.

A group of Lions’ Den fighters, released on their telegram.

July 30th, 2023 - Ukrainian officials have announced that a set of peace talks is soon to take place in Saudi Arabia, though they did not announce when or where. According to the Wall Street Journal, however, the talks are to take place in Jeddah on August 5 and 6 and will involve diplomats from over 30 countries. According to the Associated Press, Russia has not been invited. The talks are to take place on the basis of Ukraine’s 10-point peace formula, which includes Russia’s full withdrawal from Ukraine as well as the restoration of its territories.


July 29th, 2023 - Kenya is answering Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s call as they announce their willingness to head a multi-national force deployment to Haiti. Kenyan Foreign Minister Alfred Mutua announced that Kenya is "positively" considering the offer, which would see them send 1,000 police officers to both help train Haitian police as well as assist in combating gang activity that has gripped much of the nation. The deployment still requires a mandate from the UN Security Council as well as internal permissions.

July 30th, 2023 - Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko has announced he is beginning a hunger strike after he was once again arrested. The past several months have seen widespread protests in Senegal following the repeated arrest and release of Sonko. Sonko has had a number of charges against him, which he says are politically motivated as he seeks to depose President Macky Sall. On Saturday, seven new charges were announced against Sonko by prosecutors. Many of President Sall’s previous political opponents have ended up in similar situations, having charges placed against them that render them ineligible for running for political office.

Ousmane Sonko speaks to a crowd (Photo from Sylvain Cherkaoui/ AP).

July 25th, 2023 - The US has placed sanctions on three high-ranking Malian officials, including Mali’s Minister of Defence. The three officials are alleged by the US to be involved with Wagner. Neither Mali nor Russia have admitted to Wagner fighters participating in combat operations, but a number of human rights groups, as well as the UN, have documented a number of instances where Malian and Wagner troops have carried out combat operations together.

The Americas

July 29th, 2023 - Nicolas Petro, the son of Colombia’s President, Gustavo Petro, has been arrested on charges of money laundering and illicit enrichment while in office. Nicolas is a congressman representing the Atlantico province, which is located in northern Colombia. The charges originated in March after the State Prosecutor's Office accused him of taking bribes from drug traffickers in exchange for including them in his father's peace efforts to end the civil discord that has plagued the country for decades. Nicolas’ ex-wife has also been arrested on similar charges, which include money laundering and personal data violations. President Gustavo has made it clear that he does not intend to impede the investigation.

Nicolas Petro speaking at the Atlantic Assembly in March (Photo from Asamblea del Atlantico/Handout/Reuters/FILE).

July 26th, 2023 - A grain silo blast has claimed at least eight lives and left over a dozen more injured at an agricultural cooperative in southern Brazil. The blast occurred in Brazil’s Paraná state, in a small town known as Palotina. The co-op is owned by C. Val, which owns silos across the country. The company stated that the cause of the explosion is currently unknown and cannot be determined at this time, as rescue workers are still searching for a missing worker. The company further stated that many of the workers involved in the blast were foreigners and that it has paid for the medical care of the injured workers.

July 30th, 2023 - Ecuador has engaged Colombia in "cordial conversations" following Ecuador’s supposed incursion into Colombian territory on Saturday. It is believed the personnel involved were conducting an anti-drug operation in Ecuador’s region of La Hormiga, which borders Colombia’s Putumayo department located in the south-west. The operation culminated in the arrest of six people, including the governor of the San Marcelino Reservation, his wife, and four members of the indigenous guard, as well as 20 kilograms (44 lbs) of cocaine hydrochloride. Following the incident, diplomatic channels were opened between the two countries, which led to the Ecuadorian soldiers releasing the six detainees before retreating to the southern bank of the San Miguel River.

Asia and Oceania

July 29th, 2023 - Tens of thousands have been forced to flee their homes in China as Typhoon Doksuri pours onto the land. Beijing, Hebei, Tianjin, and eastern Shanxi are receiving an average of 140.7 mm (5.5 inches) of rainfall a day. Emergency services have been working to inspect damages throughout the region, with reports of stuck trains, stranded cars, and collapsed bridges. Authorities have already raised concern over the damage the storm has done to local crops. While Doksuri is beginning to taper off, forecasters are warning of yet another storm on it’s way, with typhoon Khanun set to first hit Okinawa and then mainland China.

Chinese paramilitary police officers evacuate residents in Xincuo town of Fuqing city, Fuzhou, Fujian province. (Photo - Reuters)

July 29th, 2023 - Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi emphasized that Sri Lanka plays a crucial role as a key partner in a Tokyo-led initiative. The initiative's primary objectives are to foster security and economic collaboration in the Indo-Pacific region while also addressing the growing assertiveness of China.
The initiative, which Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida unveiled in March, covers a variety of topics, including Japan's assistance to emerging economies, enhancing maritime security, providing coast guard patrol boats and equipment, and promoting infrastructure cooperation, among other measures. China and Japan have been growing more competitive over support in Sri Lanka in recent years.

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