The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 48

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, January 22nd, 2024

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, thousands gather in opposition to the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, Northern Ireland sees one of the largest strikes in the nation’s history, and the UK makes ground on their illegal immigration deportation plan.

Over in the Middle East, Netanyahu shares his wishes regarding a Palestinian state, Turkey meets with Hamas, and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq attacks both the US and Israel.

Meanwhile, in Africa, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi is inaugurated as President again, potential peace in Sudan faces yet more hurdles, and Liberia receives a new President.

In the Americas, riots engulf a town in Mexico, six Catholic nuns are abducted in Haiti, and the family of an infamous Ecuadorian drug trafficker are deported from Argentina.

In Asia and Oceania, a Hongkonger pleads guilty to bomb making, India prepares for it’s election season, and the ruling party in South Korea faces internal strife.

All in all, it looks like just another day at the office. Let's take a look:

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

Iran-Pakistan Skirmishes

An Iranian air force F-4. (Photo - SA Shahram Sharifi/Wikimedia Commons)

January 16th-20th 2024: (3 Minute Read) Tensions have risen between Iran and Pakistan following a series of tit-for-tat strikes targeting different Baloch militant groups in each other’s territory. On January 16, the IRGC launched a series of missiles strikes across the border into Pakistan’s Balochistan region, which targeted two strongholds of the Salafi extremist, Baloch-nationalist separatist group Army of Justice, which regularly carries out attacks against against Iranian forces along the border.

Both the Army of Justice and Pakistani government later reported that the strikes killed two children and damaged residential areas.

Iran’s strikes follows an attack by the group against a police station in Rask last month, which left 11 security force members dead and several others wounded.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack as a “blatant violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty,” further adding that official lines of communication were not utilized before the strikes. “Pakistan has always said terrorism is a common threat to all countries in the region that requires coordinated action. Such unilateral acts are not in conformity with good neighborly relations and can seriously undermine bilateral trust and confidence,” the Ministry added. Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Iran and expelled the Iranian ambassador, effectively cutting diplomatic ties.

On January 17, the Foreign Ministry said that Pakistan “reserves the right to respond to this illegal act. The responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran.”

Then, on January 18, Pakistan announced that it had carried out “Marg Bar Sarmachar,” which was a “a series of highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts in Siestan-o-Baluchistan province of Iran.”

The Ministry claimed that “This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities by these so called Sarmachars … Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised.”

The strikes, which were carried out in the city of Saravan, targeted elements of the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), two other Baloch militant groups. The Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations reported that the strikes were “carried out using killer drones, rockets, loitering munitions and stand-off weapons.”

According to state media, the Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the strikes as the Interior Ministry reported that nine foreign nationals were killed in the strikes, including women and children.

On January 19, Iran and Pakistan agreed to restore diplomatic relations and de-escalate the tit-for-tat missile strikes against Baloch militant groups in each other’s territory, which both sides viewed as violations of national sovereignty.


January 20th, 2024 - Hundreds of thousands of people joined protests across Germany in opposition to the nation’s right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party’s alleged secret meeting to discuss mass deportations of foreigners, an alleged plan that the AfD has stated is not within party policy. Organizers in Munich were forced to shut down the protest after nearly 100,000 extra protestors arrived, overcrowding the location. While in Cologne, an estimated 300,000 protestors took to the streets to voice their displeasure with the political party. The AfD has seen an increase in popularity lately as Europe’s migrant crisis worsens. The party is now polling in second place, just below the fellow right-wing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) along with their Bavarian sister party, Christian Social Union, according to Politico.

Thousands march against the AfD across Germany (Photo - AP)

January 18th, 2024 - Public service workers in Northern Ireland striked on Thursday in one of the largest strikes seen in the nation’s history. Unions representing nearly 170,000 of Northern Ireland’s 225,000 public service workers came together in a 24-hour strike following the government’s failure to agree to a wage increase despite decades of high inflation and the collapse of the nation’s government in 2022. Strikers gathered outside a variety of public service buildings to picket, while many expressed a desire for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to end the two-year-long protest regarding Brexit trade regulations for the region. The DUP has refused to take their elected positions in government until London grants further concessions to trade rules between the Irish nation and the EU.

January 17th, 2024 - The UK’s Safety of Rwanda has passed the UK’s House of Commons and undergone its first reading in the House of Lords, despite threats of a rebellion within Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party. The bill passed 320–276, with 11 conservative MPs voting against it. The Safety of Rwanda Bill seeks to establish Rwanda as a ‘safe country’ within UK law in order to fulfill legal obligations in the UK’s illegal immigrant deportation plan, which will see them deport illegal immigrants and illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. 61 Conservative MPs backed amendments to the bill, which seeks to limit the circumstances in which an individual can appeal their deportation, which they fear will lead to a “merry-go-round” of appeals that will halt planes from leaving for Rwanda. The amendments were not approved for implementation; however, the large backing represents the largest ‘rebellion’ since the beginning of Sunak’s premiership.

Middle East

January 18th, 2024 - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly declared his intention for there to be no Palestinian state following the end of the Israel-Gaza war, assuming an Israeli victory. He stated that “Israel must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River." The Prime Minister’s statements are in contrast to those of the US’, which has declared wishes for the establishment of a Palestinian state following the war. The statements are also in contrast to former Israeli statements, which said that Israel would not be permanently occupying Gaza after the war. As things presently stand, it is unclear what exactly Israel’s true intentions with a post-war Gaza are.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo - Debbie HIll/Pool/AFP).

January 20th, 2024 - The Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fidan, hosted a meeting in Turkey between himself and Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh. The meeting was the first publicly known conversation between the two since October 16th, shortly after the war began. Various media have reported that they discussed the possibility of a ceasefire as well as that of a two-state solution; however, Hamas’ statement on the meeting only states that they spoke of “the political and field developments” of the war as well as “ways to stop it and deliver urgent aid and relief to the Palestinian people”. Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, is based in Qatar.

January 20th - 21st, 2024 - The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed an attack against two American military bases in Syria as well as an Israeli military base in the disputed Golan Heights. The Islamic Resistance stated the attack against Golan Heights was carried out in support of Palestinians in Gaza. The Islamic Resistance in Iraq is an organization with ties to Iran-backed Shia militants. Particularly since the beginning of the Israel-Gaza war, they have carried out frequent attacks against American military installations in Iraq and various other nations in the Middle East.


January 20th, 2024 - Incumbent President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi, was inaugurated for the second time in Kinshasa, the DRC capital, despite claims of electoral fraud from opposition candidates. Though they opposed the election results, the opposition neglected to file any legal challenges to the president's victory with 73% of the vote. Prior to his inauguration, opposition figures called for nationwide protests. However, in the capital of Kinshasa, the streets witnessed no protest. This was a different story to the east of the nation, where the city of Goma saw a small protest and the town of Beni saw youth attempt to set up barricades, which were dismantled by police. Tshisekedi’s inauguration was attended by a number of different African heads of state. By DRC law, presidents can only have two terms, so he will have five years to solve an array of issues plaguing the DRC that he has set out to fix. The instability in the east and widespread poverty will be the key issues for him to tackle.

DRC President Felix Tshisekedi at his inauguration in Kinshasa (Photo -

January 18th, 2024 - The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) held an extraordinary summit in Uganda in order to discuss two big issues the East African trade bloc is facing. Namely, the Sudan war and the Ethiopia-Somalia crisis. The meeting was supposed to be a meeting between the RSF and the Sudanese military government, aimed at discussing potential peace processes for the nine-month conflict, which is spawning one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. However, less than 48 hours before the meeting, Sudan’s government suspended cooperation with IGAD after first declaring they would not be attending the meeting. The suspension comes after IGAD invited the leader of the RSF, which Sudan rejected. Regardless, IGAD has called for the two sides to fulfill their obligations and meet within two weeks.

January 22nd, 2024 - Liberia’s new President, Joseph Boakai, has been sworn in following his victory in the October 2023 election. He won against incumbent President George Weah with 50.64% of the vote. Boakai, who is 79 years old, ran on a platform with his Unity Party centered around anti-corruption, fighting inequality, access to resources, and job creation. Notably, the president’s inauguration marks the second democratic transfer of power in over 70 years. Also notable is that one of his key supporters is former warlord Prince Johnson, who was responsible for the murder of former President Samuel Doe in the first Liberian Civil War.

The Americas

January 19th, 2024 - Protests shook the town of Lerdo de Tejada, located in the Mexican state of Veracruz, following the killing of Brandon Arellano by police. Arellano had parked his car outside his grandmother's home when police opened fire at him, striking him in the neck. Relatives claim the 27-year-old was killed for not stopping at a checkpoint. Protestors took to the streets on Friday, overturning police vehicles and setting them alight. Videos further show protestors throwing bricks at the local government palace before lighting it aflame. The state's Security Ministry stated the four police officers who participated in the killing have been detained for suspected homicide.

An overturned police car lit aflame by protestors (Photo - Twitter)

January 19th, 2024 - Six Catholic nuns and an unknown number of others were abducted in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince after the bus transporting them was hijacked and driven to an unknown location. This comes amid an increase of 141.33% in kidnappings in recent months, according to CARDH, a human rights group in Haiti. Nearly 80% of Haiti is under the control of gangs, who have slowly wrestled control from authorities following the 2021 assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, alongside internal political struggles between reigning Prime Minister Ariel Henry, police chief and convicted felon Guy Philippe, and Moïse Jean-Charles, leader of the Pitit Dessalines party. Philippe recently returned to Haiti after serving time in an American prison for money laundering and a conspiracy to smuggle cocaine while acting as the leader of a paramilitary group in Haiti.

January 18th, 2024 - Family members of infamous gang leader Jose “Fito” Macias were deported from Argentina back to Ecuador on Thursday following the escape of Fito from an Ecuadorian prison and the subsequent war between the government and various gangs in Ecuador. Authorities reported they had detained eight people who arrived in Argentina on January 5th, two days before Fito’s escape from an Ecuadorian prison. Local media reported the family had purchased a house in November, while authorities have theorized that Fito planned to escape to Argentina following his escape from prison. "We know that (Fito’s) entire family was in Argentina... they have been deported to Ecuador," Ecuador’s President, Daniel Noboa, told RCN radio on Friday. "Often these relatives are involved in money laundering or in the economic and operational part of the cartels and narco-terrorist groups."

Asia and Oceania

January 21st, 2024 - Hong Kong activist Tang Kai-yin, who attempted to flee to Taiwan amid charges related to the 2019 protests, has pleaded guilty to possessing materials suitable for crafting petrol bombs. The 34-year-old admitted guilt to the charge of possessing items "with intent to destroy or damage property" before District Judge Ernest Lin. Tang was part of a group of 12 Hongkongers intercepted by the mainland Chinese coastguard in August 2020 while trying to escape to Taiwan on a speedboat. In his plea, Tang acknowledged having glass bottles, ethanol, gasoline, magnesium powder, and other substances within a Wan Chai flat in September 2019, which could be used in the creation of petrol bombs alongside four others.

(Photo - File photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP)

January 21st, 2024 - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram in Ayodhya, marking a significant event that analysts view as the commencement of election campaigning for his party. This move is seen as fulfilling a longstanding promise to the Hindu support base of Modi's party, and it has sparked commentary from analysts who suggest that the prospects of a secular government in India are rapidly diminishing. The temple inauguration at the site of a demolished mosque is considered a strategic political move by Modi, aligning with the upcoming Indian elections scheduled for the spring of 2024. Critics argue that this event underscores a shift away from secular principles in Indian politics.

January 21st, 2024 - Infighting has reemerged within the ruling People Power Party (PPP) as President Yoon Suk Yeol urges the party's interim leader, Han Dong-hoon, to step down. Han, the former justice minister and a close confidant of the president, swiftly rejected President Yoon. The rift centers around alleged "controversial recommendations" made by Han for specific candidates in upcoming general elections, as stated by the presidential office and Yoon's loyalists. With only 79 days until the general elections, Han's refusal to resign adds turbulence to the PPP's campaign, highlighting the internal challenges the party faces in the lead-up to the polls.

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