The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 47

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Tuesday, January 16th, 2024

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, a new King is announced in Denmark, France gets a new Prime Minister, and German farmers meet in Berlin to protest new tax policies.

Over in the Middle East, Israel’s genocide case begins at the United Nations and the US and UK launch strikes on Yemen.

Meanwhile, in Africa, a Kenyan court threatens to set a cult leader free, Burundi and Rwanda enter a significant diplomatic spat, and Cabo Verde is declared as Africa’s 3rd malaria free country.

In the Americas, Criminal gangs rise up against the government in Ecuador, Guatemala swears in the nation’s new President, and Catholic priests face further attacks in Nicaragua.

In Asia and Oceania, Japan and Australia agree to continue their military relations and North Korea considers revising their constitution.

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

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

Taiwan Elections Shape the Indo-Pacific

Lai Ching-te (William Lai), the now President-elect of Taiwan. (Photo – Craig Ferguson/LightRocket)

January 14th, 2024: (3 Minute Read) In what is possibly one of the most important elections in recent years, Taiwanese voters took to the polls to decide not only the future of their country but the future of the entire Pacific region.

Lai Ching-te of the Democratic Progressive Party won the election with 40.1% of the vote. However, the DPP has lost the majority in the legislature, with no party having enough support to rule alone. Lai defeated the candidates from the Kuomintang (KMT) and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP), who had 33.35% and 26.28%, respectively.

Ching-te Lai, or as he’s known in the West – William Lai, is a seasoned politician who served as Vice President under the current President, Tsai Ing-wen. Lai, a soft-spoken but resolute figure, promises continuity with Tsai’s pro-independence stance. He advocates for bolstering Taiwan’s military, strengthening ties with democratic allies like the United States, and solidifying Taiwan’s distinct national identity – separate from mainland China. Essentially, he aims to continue the current administration while forging stronger ties with the West and seeking informal recognition. Lai walked back previous comments about formal independence.

Hou Yu-ih is a charismatic former police chief and the widely successful current mayor of New Taipei City, though he is currently on leave. He advocates for closer economic relations with China while maintaining the peace-hopeful status quo of ambiguity on formal sovereignty. He seeks to avoid antagonizing China and desires to focus instead on internal Taiwanese domestic issues, such as the economy and infrastructure. He is rather disliked by the radical members on both sides of the China/Independence debate due to his lack of connections to mainland China and his history of DPP crackdowns as a police officer during the Martial Law period of the mid-to-late 20th century.

Running as third-party, Ko Wen-Je, the former mayor of Taipei, is known for his populist ideals and grounded approach. He is a highly respected surgeon, having served as the director of emergency and critical care at National Taiwan University Hospital for over a decade before winning the Taipei mayoral race as an independent candidate. In 2019, Ko founded the Taiwan People’s Party.

Ko’s political stance is considered middle to the two main parties. He advocates for maintaining a stable relationship with China while firmly upholding Taiwan’s independence. He emphasizes economic pragmatism and believes in strengthening ties with both China and the West. This middle-ground approach appeals to voters who are dissatisfied with the polarization of Taiwanese politics and seek a more moderate perspective, but has also alienated some of the hardliners on either side.

For China, Taiwan remains a renegade province and a top-priority territory to reclaim – by force if necessary. This stance from China and the increased pressure have been first and foremost on every voter’s mind. China’s desire for Taiwan shapes the geopolitical landscape in the region and influences Taiwanese elections by becoming a significant factor in political debates and voters’ considerations. To highlight this, on election day, China sent several aircraft and ships to move along Taiwanese territory.

Ultimately, China’s desire for Taiwan remains a constant pressure point in the region. Only time will tell how their complex interplay of history, nationalism, and political aspirations will shape the future, but the outcome of the 2024 Taiwan election will likely have far-reaching implications, with Lai’s win surely upsetting China.


January 14th, 2024 - Denmark crowned its new King, Frederik X, on Sunday following the surprise abdication of Queen Margrethe II on New Years, who abdicated from the throne after 52 years as Queen. King Frederik officially ascended to the throne after his mother signed the declaration of abdication in a meeting of the Council of State at parliament. Following the signing, the Queen proclaimed "God save the King" before leaving the room. An ecstatic crowd cheered as Frederik was announced as the nation’s new king by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. "My hope is to become the unifying king of tomorrow. It is a task I have approached all my life. It is a task I take on with pride, respect, and joy," King Frederik said atop the balcony of Christiansborg Castle. Queen Margrethe did not reveal the reason for her abdication, stating only that an earlier surgery had made her reconsider her future.

King Frederik X (Photo - Martin Meissner/AP)

January 9th, 2024 - Following former French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne’s resignation on January 8th, French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed a new PM today. Taking over the reins from PM Borne is Gabriel Attal. Attal is both the youngest PM France has ever had, at 34 years old, and also France’s first openly gay PM. Attal was tasked with restructuring the government as Macron seeks to reinvigorate the “spirit” of his initial election in 2017. The restructure was announced on the 11th, with only one major government position, the minister of foreign affairs, changing hands. Several lower ministries changed hands as well.

January 14th, 2024 - German farmers occupied the streets of Berlin in tractors and other farm vehicles on Sunday following a planned revoking of a tax rebate for farmers. The German government had previously sought to cut both a tax rebate on farm vehicles and a diesel subsidy for farmers before altering the planned change last week following massive backlash. The new plan seeks to cut the diesel subsidy by 40% throughout this year and then by another 30% next year. Finance Minister Christian Lindner is set to address the protest at Brandenburg Gate, while coalition leaders have invited protest leaders for talks. Despite efforts to calm the protestors, the Bundestag remains divided on how to facilitate a worthy change.

Middle East

January 11th and 12th, 2024 - Israel’s case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun. South Africa has brought a case of genocide against them for their actions in Gaza and is seeking a series of provisional measures, namely the halt of Israeli military operations, to be instated by the court. The two sides had a three-hour, single-round oral argument each, with South Africa on the 11th and Israel on the 12th. South Africa has accused Israel of genocide on a number of different grounds, in violation of Articles I-VI of the Genocide Convention. Israel has denied the charges wrought by South Africa and has accused South Africa of cooperating with Hamas and "functioning as the legal arm” of Hamas. The case has seen a lot of support worldwide rally to both sides, with Turkey publicly declaring their intention to send documents to the ICJ supporting South Africa’s claim and Germany stating they will send a delegation to the court in defense of Israel. The court's decision on the provisional measures that South Africa seeks could take several weeks, and the entire case itself could take years. While technically the court’s decisions can be binding, they have no means of enforcement, and it is within the realm of possibility that Israel ignores any decision by the court against them and continues military operations. Should the court eventually charge Israel with genocide, it will be the first time the ICJ has done so. The court sessions at the ICJ in the Hague, in the Netherlands, witnessed protests outside in support of both sides.

A photo of a portion of Israel's legal team in the ICJ (Photo from Reuters).

January 11th, 2024 - The US and UK launched over 100 joint strikes on 60 different Houthi targets within Yemen after a series of warnings to the Houthi’s for the myriad of attacks the Houthi’s have carried out on commercial shipping vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthi’s called the strikes “foolishness” and vowed to still continue strikes. Following that, three more sets of strikes were carried out. Since the initial strikes, the Houthi’s have continued to attack several different commercial vessels. The Houthi’s have confirmed at least seven fatalities in the strikes. The strikes were carried out with the support of Australia, Bahrain, Canada, and the Netherlands.


January 11th, 2024 - Burundi has severed ties, closed its border with Rwanda, and made efforts to deport Rwandan nationals. The move was ordered by Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye a few weeks after he accused Rwanda of supporting RED-Tabara, a Burundian rebel group responsible for an attack on December 22nd that killed 20 people. Internal Affairs Minister Martin Niteretse, when announcing the decision, referred to Rwandan President Paul Kagame as “a bad neighbor." Rwanda has denied all support for RED-Tabara, stating they are “not associated, in any way, with any Burundian armed group”. 

The Rwandan Government statement on Burundi closing the border.

January 11th, 2024 - Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, the leader of a religious cult within Kenya, could potentially be released from detention if the state prosecutor does not charge him within two weeks. The Senior Magistrate Yusuf Abdallah Shikanda said that the state has two weeks to charge Mackenzie, or "the court will consider releasing the respondents from custody on terms that will be determined by the court," adding that "it has been a long journey that must come to an end, at least for this phase". Mackenzie was arrested in April of 2023 when a number of bodies were discovered to be buried on his property. Since then, the bodies of 429 people have been found. Mackenzie is accused of heading a religious cult in which he convinced his followers to starve themselves to death in order to meet Christ.

January 12th, 2024 - The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Cabo Verde, the West African island nation, as Malaria-free. This makes Cabo Verde the 43rd country, and the 3rd in Africa, to be Malaria-free. Mauritius, another African island nation, was declared Malaria-free in 1973, and Algeria was declared Malaria-free in 2019. The WHO provides the certificate declaring a nation Malaria-free when the transmission of Malaria from Anopheles mosquitoes has been halted for three consecutive years. Cabo Verde's economy, being an island nation with little natural resources, is largely tourism-based, so the declaration is likely to positively benefit their economy.

The Americas

January 8th, 2024 - Criminal gangs took to the streets of Ecuador following the escape of infamous gang leader Jose “Fito” Macias from a prison in Guayaquil, Ecuador’s largest city. Ecuadorian President Daniel Noboa declared a nationwide state of emergency and mobilized the country’s military in response to the escape, which may have prompted the violent reaction by gang members. Following the escape, riots broke out in prisons located in El Oro, Loja, Chimborazo, Cotopaxi, Azuay, and Pichincha, where guards were taken hostages by prisoners. Following the outbreak of violence, President Noboa issued a presidential decree that recognized “the existence of an internal armed conflict,” classifying the gangs as terrorist organizations. Authorities restored order to the mutinous prisons on Saturday, freeing the 177 hostages held by prisoners. The crisis is currently ongoing.

(Photo - Vicente Gaibor Del Pino/Reuters)

January 14th, 2024 - The Nicaraguan government expelled 19 Catholic clergymen to the Vatican, continuing President Daniel Ortega’s ceaseless attack against the Catholic Church in the nation. Those expelled included 15 priests, two seminarians, and Bishops Rolando Alvarez and Isidoro Mora. Bishop Alvarez had previously been convicted of treason following his questioning of the closure of Catholic radio stations and the government’s actions against mass anti-government protests in 2018. Bishop Mora was arrested in December alongside several other priests for allegedly “refusing to stop mentioning Bishop Alvarez in his sermons.” The government thanked Pope Francis for facilitating "the very respectful and discreet coordination carried out to make possible the trip to the Vatican” in a statement published on El 19, a Nicaraguan news outlet with ties to Ortega’s regime.

January 15th, 2024 - Guatemala officially swore in the nation's new president on Monday following a hours-long delay sparked by political rivals. Bernardo Arevalo, an anti-graft candidate who ran for the center-left Semilla party, was sworn in as President following a nearly 9 hour delay replacing former President Alejandro Giammattei. Arevalo has previously faced a multitude of attempts to prevent him from taking office including being taken off the ballot in July of 2023 alongside attempts to annul votes following claims that Arevalo utilized fraudulent votes in order to defeat his political rival, Sandra Torres, who lost by 20 points. During the 9 hour delay, supporters of Arevalo took to the streets to voice their displeasure alongside demands that Arevalo take office immediately, police employed tear gas against protestors as they converged on Congress.

Asia and Oceania

January 15th, 2023 - Japan and Australia are in discussions to enhance military collaboration in response to several potential conflicts in their neighboring regions, according to government sources. The talks, prompted by concerns over China's increasing maritime assertiveness, aim to solidify defense cooperation guidelines between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military. The proposed measures include elevating the complexity and frequency of joint drills to bolster deterrence against Beijing's provocative military activities in the Indo-Pacific. This agreement stems from a joint declaration on security cooperation signed by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during their October 2022 meeting in Australia.

(Photo - Reuters)

January 16th, 2023 - Kim Jong-un has suggested amending the North Korean constitution to officially designate South Korea as the "primary foe" and expressed his intention to annex the South in the event of a war. This proposal, outlined during a speech at the 10th session of the 14th Supreme People's Assembly, marks a potential transformative moment in inter-Korean relations, with analysts viewing this development as extremely significant. Kim emphasized the possibility of specifying in the constitution the complete occupation, subjugation, and annexation of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in case of a war on the Korean Peninsula. Kim's statements were reported by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

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

Thanks for reading.

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