The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 28

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday August 14th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, Ukraine opens a civilian ship corridor, the UK attempts to ease immigration issues, and more migrants are rescued in the English Channel. Over in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the United States enter negotiations, Iran and the US free detainees, and UN workers in Yemen are freed. Meanwhile in Africa, Niger charges their deposed president, Niger accuses France of military action, and Libya undergoes power outages. In the Americas, a cartel leader is punished, an American woman is released from captivity in Haiti, and corruption investigations into the former Brazilian president continue. In Asia and Oceania, Taiwan visits the United States, multiple countries face record-breaking rainfall, and China visits Cambodia.

It’s just another day at the office. Let's see:

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

Several US Democrats Visit Left-Leaning Government Leaders in South America

(Photo - Getty Images)

Sunday, August 13th, 2023: (2 Minute Read) New York Democratic Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and 11 other Democratic Representatives, including the chief of staff for Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be visiting the South American nations of Brazil, Chile, and Colombia to meet with political leaders in order to bridge gaps between the US and the South American nations and to discuss similar political struggles that the politicians face.

"It’s long past time for a realignment of the United States’ relationship to Latin America," Ocasio-Cortez said in a statement provided to The LA Times. "The U.S. needs to publicly acknowledge the harms we’ve committed through interventionist and extractive policies and chart a new course based on trust and mutual respect."

The 11 lawmakers will leave for South America on August 14th and are expected to return in a week. The trip itself is sponsored by a progressive research group in Washington and will not use taxpayer funds.

Some theorize the visit is not only to repair burned bridges but also to discuss the rise of right-wing politics in the countries. Notably, Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters rioted in the capital following his close defeat to his leftist rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The Right also gained a foothold in Chile when the nation’s Republican Party won 22 of the 50 seats on the Constitutional Council in May in preparation to rewrite the Pinochet-era Constitution. While in Colombia, President Gustavo Petro has made it his highest priority to make peace with the various paramilitary groups and end the 60-year civil strife, which has left an estimated 450,000 people dead.

South America has also recently been targeted by Chinese expansionism as countries such as Honduras have strengthened ties, leading some officials to speculate they are targeting Taiwan’s economic allies in order to weaken the island nation, while others speculate the various deals are a scheme to force developing and poorer countries into becoming dependent on China.

The delegation will additionally address environmental concerns, notably those regarding the Amazon Rainforest.


August 10th, 2023 - Ukraine has announced its intention to establish a corridor for civilian vessels that have been stuck in Ukrainian ports since the war began. They stated there are an estimated 60 vessels that would be applicable for using the corridor, as long as they agreed to sail given the current threats. Ukraine, in their statement, highlighted the possibility of Russian hostility towards the vessels. Additionally, Oleh Chalyk, a Ukrainian Navy Spokesman, stated "The corridor will be very transparent; we will put cameras on the ships, and there will be a broadcast to show that this is purely a humanitarian mission and has no military purpose".

August 11th, 2023 - The UK has been exploring a number of options to ease or solve its migrant crisis. One such solution is a barge named the "Bibby Stockholm", which has been fitted to operate as a living place for asylum seekers while their applications process. It had housed 39 migrants; however, they have been temporarily moved off the ship due to the discovery of legionella bacteria in the onboard water system. Before the ship, asylum seekers would be put into hotels, which quickly became costly. The Bibby Stockholm is hoped to help cut costs and is to eventually house 500 people.

The Bibby Stockholm (Photo from BNPS)

August 12, 2023 - A migrant shipwreck has left six people dead and at least two others missing after the migrant group attempted to cross the English Channel from France into the United Kingdom on Saturday. French and British authorities were able to rescue 60 of the migrants and return them to their respective shores. The migrants attempted the crossing alongside dozens of other boats; several other boats were suffering issues, according to Franck Dhersin, the French mayor of Téteghem. Rescue operations commenced at 6:00 a.m. local time. Rescue teams also saved another group of migrants after their boat had also faced dangerous conditions. The six men who died were of Afghan origin.

Middle East

August 9th, 2023 - Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US have re-entered negotiations to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, things are already off to a rocky start, as Israel has stated they are unwilling to concede on some of Saudi Arabia’s demands, and Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has stated he is in "no rush" given the current make-up of the Israeli government. Saudi Arabia is asking for Israel to make massive concessions towards Palestine, allowing the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. They are also seeking security guarantees from the US as well as US assistance in creating a civilian nuclear program. In exchange, Saudi Arabia is to severely lessen its growing relationship with China, particularly regarding oil.

US President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meeting in Jeddah, July 15th 2022 (Photo from Bandar Aljaloud/Saudi Royal Palace via AP, File).

August 10th, 2023 - Iran and the US have negotiated a deal that will see five American citizens freed from Iranian prisons. In exchange, the US is to unfreeze 6 billion dollars of Iranian assets, which are to be deposited into a Qatari bank account, as well as free a number of imprisoned Iranians within the US. The American detainees were being held in the Iranian Evin Prison and have since been moved to a hotel under house arrest prior to their departure from Iran.

August 11th, 2023 - The United Nations has announced the release of five of their ‘Department of Safety and Security’ personnel after their kidnapping in 2022 in Yemen. The five had been held for 18 months and were originally kidnapped by a branch of Al-Qaeda operating within Yemen. The UN neglected to comment on the negotiations that took place to secure their return; however, they did thank Oman for their assistance.


August 14th, 2023 - The military junta in Niger has announced they are placing charges of "high treason and undermining the internal and external security" of Niger upon now former President Mohamed Bazoum. The charges follow a series of negotiations and threats from the international community against the military junta. Tensions remain high as ECOWAS grapples with whether or not to pursue diplomacy or intervene militarily.

Deposed Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum (Photo from AP).

August 9th, 2023 - The Niger National Guard has accused France of attacking a group of their soldiers, killing five and wounding four. France, however, has not made any announcement that the Nigerien claim is true. France has been weighing military action to restore democratic institutions in Niger, alongside ECOWAS. However, in France’s case, any significant military intervention would be considered a look back to their colonial past, prompting the French government to weigh their options carefully.

August 9th, 2023 - Libya entered a nationwide power outage after the Libyan General Electric Company attempted to launch some technical updates in Tripoli in order to upgrade the nation's very flawed electrical system. However, things soon went awry as blackouts caused by the updates spread throughout Libya. Blackouts are not an uncommon occurrence in Libya, with power outages happening almost daily since the beginning of the first Libyan Civil War in 2011.

The Americas

August 8, 2023 - A Colombian drug trafficker by the name of Dairo Antonio Usuga David, also known as Otoniel, was sentenced to 45 years in a federal prison on drug distribution charges. Otoniel admitted to being a key leader in the Del Golfo Clan in Colombia, a paramilitary group that deals both in drugs and other criminal activities, including illegal mining, which halted a Chinese mining company’s operations in June. The US prosecutors office requested the 45-year sentence due to Otoniel’s role in a "terrorist and paramilitary organization." Otoniel was one of the most wanted drug traffickers in the world until he was arrested in October 2021, when both the United States and the United Kingdom provided intelligence to Colombian authorities, which led to his capture.

(Photo - AFP/Juan Barreto)

August 8, 2023 - A United States nurse and her daughter were released after being kidnapped near the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince last month, surviving 13 days in captivity. The nurse, Alix Dorsainvil, worked for the Christian outreach organization known as El Roi Haiti, whose purpose is to "raise up Haitian leaders who will strengthen families, restore relationships, and build healthy communities that function according to God's design and purpose." It remains unknown who kidnapped Mrs. Dorsainvil; however, witnesses reported a group of armed men entering the clinic and kidnapping her. While the organization did not elaborate on why Mrs. Dorsainvil was released, some speculate it was in part due to protests within the capital that called for the nurse’s release. Mrs. Dorsainvil is the wife of El Roi Haiti’s director, Sandro Dorsainvil, leading some to speculate the kidnapping was an attempted ransoming.

August 11, 2023 - Brazilian authorities raided properties owned by an imprisoned former aide of ex-president Jair Bolsonaro in connection with illegally selling jewelry and other gifts from Arab governments. The search warrant was approved following claims that Bolsonaro’s aides were illegally using government resources for their own personal gain. The judge who ordered the warrant, Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, claims the proceeds from the sales were sent in cash to Bolsonaro through intermediaries. The justice further cites messages obtained by authorities in which Mauro Cid, Bolsonaro's former aide, deals with the sale of statues, a palm tree, and a gold-plated boat received as gifts during an official visit to Bahrain. The raids follow an investigation into jewelry worth an estimated $3 million given by the Saudi Arabian government as a presidential gift to Bolsonaro, which he failed to declare.

Asia and Oceania

August 13th, 2023 - Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te has made a stopover in the United States while on his way to Paraguay, bringing strong condemnation from China. The Foreign Ministry announced that the trip "seriously violates the one-China principle and gravely undermines China's sovereignty and territorial integrity". Zhu Fenglian, Chinese spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said in a statement that "under the guise of so-called transit, Lai engages in activities that aim to betray Taiwan's interests and seek personal gains by selling out the island to the US."

August 12th, 2023 - Flooding, landslides, and heavy rainfall persist throughout several Asian countries, leading to the displacement of hundreds of thousands in Japan, South Korea, China, and Myanmar. Several major typhoons have been drenching Japan before moving onto China and the Korean Peninsula, causing widespread damage from flooding and landslides. Several regional governments have issued evacuation orders and emergency alerts as the storms continue to roll in. The storms have affected travel, halting it entirely in some cases, and led to the deaths of hundreds so far.

August 13th, 2023 - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Cambodia aimed to reaffirm China's unwavering commitment to the Southeast Asian nation. This visit follows the recent transition of power in Cambodia, where the incumbent prime minister passed on his position to his son after an election that was criticized for its one-sided nature. Hun Sen, who holds the record for being the longest-serving leader in Asia, and his party achieved a decisive victory in the general election after the disqualification of the primary opposition group, the Candlelight Party, from participating in the election due to a technicality. The international community, including Western nations and human rights organizations, voiced concerns about the fairness and freedom of the election. The new leader of Cambodia, Hun Manet, has established robust ties with China. Notably, Cambodia holds significant strategic importance for China in Southeast Asia, with several Chinese military bases in the country.

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