The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 32

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday September 11th, 2023

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, the Iranian embassy was attacked in Paris, a mercenary ring is busted, and Irish authorities find weapon caches.

Over in the Middle East, fighting heats up between Palestinian groups and Israel, Iraq files corruption charges against a former prime minister, and

Meanwhile in Africa, Morocco is hit with a major earthquake, Uganda takes a toll in it’s fight against terrorism, and the African Union joins the G20.

In the Americas, Chile experiences rioting, Mexico fails to curb drug imports to the US, and Colombia skirmishes with FARC.

Then in Asia and Oceania, North Korea celebrates their anniversary, Russia removes military equipment from contested Japanese islands, and Biden heads to Vietnam.

As usual, it’s just another day at the office. Let's dive in:

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

The G20 Summit’s Major Discussion: Ukraine

(Photo - PTI)

Sunday, September 10th, 2023: (3 Minute Read) The G20 Summit has come to a close this weekend, with the world's most powerful countries meeting amid simmering worldwide tensions.

Notably absent from the meeting were Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

Importantly, the summit ended with the traditional "family photo", though reports of disagreements on core issues affected the decisions at the conference. Most of the leaders left Delhi after honoring Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial by the Yamuna River.

Most contentious among the group’s discussions was the topic of Ukraine. The leaders' official statement shows concern for the "human suffering" caused by the Ukraine conflict. However, it refrains from directly attributing the war to Russia and provides only a general mention of the significance of upholding the "territorial integrity" of nations.

"We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law, including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability."

"We … welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine.

"The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible," the statement said.

The host of the event, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced that the Leaders' Declaration had been adopted on the first day of the weekend summit.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the summit’s declaration "does a very good job of standing up for the principle that states cannot use force to seek territorial acquisition or to violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of other states". Germany and the United Kingdom have openly praised the resolution. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that "Russia's invasion of Ukraine is something that could shake the foundation of cooperation at G20." Ukraine has said "it was nothing to be proud of".

Most notably, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that the G20 is not the place to expect diplomatic progress on the war in Ukraine, given the summit’s economic focus.

The G20 Summit also focused on issues such as the implementation of the Black Sea Deal, which provides for the secure transportation of grain, food, and fertilizers between Ukraine and Russia.

Russia stated its willingness to rejoin the Black Sea Deal for Ukraine to export grain, provided that its conditions are satisfied. In July, Russia withdrew from the accord, citing alleged non-compliance with its requirements for the implementation of a parallel agreement that eases regulations for Russia's food and fertilizer exports. Turkish President Erdogan, presiding over the agreement, promised that Russia and Ukraine would renegotiate.

The meeting also granted permanent membership to the African Union, consisting of 55 member nations, within the G20.


September 9th, 2023 - The Iranian embassy in Paris was attacked reportedly by supporters of the Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), who threw molotovs and rocks at the entrance. MEK is an Iranian opposition political militant group that has been active since the 60’s. They have been designated as a terrorist organization by Iran, the US, and a number of other nations. In the modern day they have attempted to become more a political opposition group rather than a militant group. They are primarily based in France and Albania, where they were exiled to.

September 7th, 2023 - Northern Irish police searched three houses during a terror probe in the North Ireland city of Derry/Londonderry. The raids, however, led to clashes with local populations, who threw petrol bombs, steel poles, and rocks at the police and their vehicles. Derry has long been one of many hotspots for British-Irish tensions, to which the name of the city stands testament. Officially, the name of the city is Londonderry; however, local Irish populations refer to the city as Derry. Regarding the raids, the leader of the Social Democratic Party stated "Those who want to bring violence back to our community for their own ends have nothing to offer and have been rejected by the people of Derry and Ireland".

A photo of a police vehicle damaged during the clashes.

September 7th, 2023 - Cuban authorities have arrested 17 people in connection with a human trafficking ring that trafficked young men to the Russian military to fight in the Russo-Ukrainian war. The man believed to be the ringleader of the group was among those arrested. Authorities have failed to name any of the accused, but they have stated that the organization relied on two men in Cuba to lure men into their plot and that the ring operated both in Cuba and Russia. The accused face charges of human trafficking, fighting as a mercenary, and hostile action against a foreign state. Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, signed a decree last year that granted foreigners expedited citizenship if they served in the Russian armed forces, a deal that has enticed those fleeing economic hardship.

Middle East

September 4th, 2023 - A number of Palestinian militant groups have launched attacks against Israel after Israeli media company Haaretz reported on an alleged incident in July where five Palestinian women were strip searched by IDF forces raiding their building, who reportedly forced them to undress in front of children, threatening them with an attack dog if they did not comply. The IDF released a statement pertaining to the incident, in which it did say that the women were searched in such a manner in order to check if they were hiding any weapons or ammunition and that the searches took place in a closed room one by one, where no other individuals or dogs were present.

September 10th, 2023 - Iraqi sources have announced the opening of new corruption charges against the government of former PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, which they say may result in his arrest as well as that of several others. Al-Kadhimi, however, has left the country and presently resides in London. The charges arise from the theft of 2.5 billion dollars from Iraqi state funds between September 2021 and August 2022, which the government says was cashed through 247 checks by 5 different companies. The theft happened under Al-Kadhimi’s government; however, he says it was his government that discovered the case and launched the initial investigations, stating his government attempted to combat corruption.

Former PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi (Photo from Iraqi Parliament/Handout - Anadolu Agency).

September 10th, 2023 - An Israeli delegation arrived in Saudi Arabia in order to attend a UNESCO meeting for Israel’s first ever public visit to Saudi Arabia, as talks about normalization of relations between the two grow ever more. The delegation flew to Riyadh through Dubai under a visa granted to them by UNESCO. The meeting is being held today, September 11th. Israel’s presence within Saudi Arabia is a contentious issue for much of the Arab world, which has become divided on their approach towards them, with some seeking to normalize relations, some already having done so, and others continuing to take a non-compromising approach.


September 8th, 2023 - Late Friday night, Morocco was struck by a 6.8-magnitude earthquake that has now killed over 2,000 people and caused significant infrastructural damage in a number of towns and cities, most notably Marrakesh. As of Sunday night, an additional 2,400 people had been injured, 1,400 of whom were described as critical. A number of foreign nations have sent rescue teams to Morocco as they desperately attempt to search destroyed buildings in order to locate more people, alive or not.

A man walks through rubble in the Moroccan town of M'zouda (Photo from Fethi Belaid/AFP - Getty Images).

September 8th, 2023 - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has claimed that Ugandan forces operating within the DRC have killed 567 fighters of the ‘Allied Democratic Forces’ (ADF), an Islamic-State-aligned militant group. The ADF maintains a presence both within the DRC, where it is largely based, as well as in Uganda itself, where it has long been an opponent of the Museveni government. Museveni has claimed that the group is desperate and stated that their only option is to surrender.

September 9th, 2023 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has officially invited the African Union (AU) to the G20, a meeting for which India hosted this week. The AU took a seat at the meeting as a permanent member for the first time, giving them equal membership status to the EU, which is the only other regional bloc with full membership. The AU has 55 members. South Africa, one of the 55 AU members, was already part of the G20 and has been advocating for full AU membership for a number of years. Last year, US President Joe Biden also echoed calls for the AU to join the G20, saying it’s been "a long time in coming".

The Americas

September 10th, 2023 - An annual march in remembrance of the victims of Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile led to clashes after a group of counter-protestors intent on breaking up the march attacked demonstrators and "defiled graves" on the 50th anniversary of Pinochet’s ascension to power. The march began in the streets of Chile’s capital and stopped at the Presidential Palace, where Chile’s current President, Gabriel Boric, joined demonstrators before continuing to the general cemetery, where many of those killed under Pinochet’s regime are buried. Upon hearing that the president had joined the procession, counter-protestors reportedly attacked demonstrators and the general cemetery with rocks and molotov cocktails. Three police officers were injured during the clash, and three people have been arrested.

(Photo - REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

September 7th, 2023 - Mexico continues to deny the United States assistance in curbing the stream of fentanyl through the border, a US spokesman said on Thursday. The Biden administration has requested increased cooperation with both China and Mexico in order to curb the flow of the drug that has killed thousands as well as the chemicals used to produce the drug, claiming that Mexico has not put in "sufficient resources" into the fight against the drug. Mexico’s President, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has put the blame largely on China and wrote to China’s Chairman, Xi Jinping, in April, requesting further support from the Chinese government in order to assist in controlling shipments of fentanyl into Mexico.

September 6th, 2023 - At least nine people, including a 14-year-old girl, were killed and five more were injured after clashes between Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) and a splinter faction of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), known as the Estado Mayor Central (EMC), erupted in Colombia’s north-eastern province of Arauca, which borders Venezuela. It is unclear what started the clashes; however, Arauca is known to be a hotspot for illicit activities and is a key route for drug smuggling and the distribution of illegally mined metals due to its border with Venezuela. 21 improvised explosive devices as well as 12 grenades were discovered by the Colombian military following the clashes, one of which was discovered within the house of a civilian, which authorities denounced as a "serious violation of human rights.

Asia and Oceania

September 9th, 2023 - North Korea's state media reported that a paramilitary and military parade was held in Pyongyang to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the regime's establishment. Leader Kim Jong-un was present at the event, which took place at Kim Il Sung Square on Friday. According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Kim observed the parade but did not give a speech. His daughter, believed to be named Ju-ae, was also in attendance. Additionally, Vice Premier Liu Guozhong's delegation from China and a visiting Russian army song and dance group were present at the parade.

Parades in Pyongyang to mark the 75th anniversary of the regime's founding day. (Photo -Korean Central News Agency/Yonhap)

September 5th, 2023 - An examination of satellite images revealed that Russia has relocated multiple air defense missile systems from two disputed islands near northern Japan in 2020. This development raises the possibility that Moscow is repurposing these weapons from its Far East region for potential use in the conflict in Ukraine. The analysis of satellite images, conducted by Yu Koizumi, a lecturer at the University of Tokyo, focused on the Etorofu and Kunashiri islands. These images were obtained from U.S. space technology company Maxar Technologies, Inc. Koizumi also expressed confidence that aging tanks and artillery previously stored at a military facility in Sakhalin are being transported to the Ukrainian frontlines.

September 10th, 2023 - During his first trip to Vietnam, President Joe Biden celebrated the strengthening of diplomatic relations between the United States and Vietnam. This visit underscores the U.S. commitment to expanding its influence in the region by presenting nations with an alternative global power to China. In a meeting with General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, the head of Vietnam's ruling Communist Party, President Biden expressed his optimism about the significant opportunities ahead.

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