The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 53

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, February 26th, 2024

Good morning everyone,

Let’s jump right in today.

In Europe, France and Armenia trade diplomatic meetings, Cyprus police detain people in connection with human trafficking, and a former Austrian chancellor faces charges.

Over in the Middle East, Egypt announces a joint project with the UAE and the US vetoes a UNSC resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Meanwhile, in Africa, Kenya busts part of a human trafficking ring, the DRC’s government resolves, and Rwanda faces more heat for alleged support of rebels in the DRC.

In the Americas, Thousands gather in Sao Paulo in support of ex-President, Jair Bolsonaro, a self proclaimed white supremacist is convicted of a racially motivated killing, and talks between the ELN and Colombian government have entered a “crisis.”

In Asia and Oceania, China responds to an incident between the Taiwanese Coast Guard and Chinese fishermen, Russia is confirmed to be using North Korean missiles, and Tuvalu elects a new Prime Minister.

It’s just another day at the office. Let's take a look:

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

Armenia Freezes CSTO Cooperation

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan pictured during his February 22nd interview with France24. (Photo -

February 22nd, 2024: (2 Minute Read) Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan announced that Armenia is pausing it's cooperation with the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance headed by Russia that bears similarities to NATO.

“The collective security treaty has not fulfilled it's objectives as far as Armenia is concerned, particularly in 2021 and 2022. And we could not let that happen without taking notice. We have now, in practical terms, frozen our participation in this treaty. As for what comes next, we shall have to see," he stated.

While this is not an official withdrawal from the alliance, it does open up the greater possibility of such an event taking place, particularly following Pashinyan's previous comments stating that Armenia’s membership in the alliance is “under review”.

The freezing of cooperation marks a sharp escalation in relations between Armenia and Russia. Although they are historic allies, Armenia has accused Russia and the CSTO of having failed them in the face of Azeri aggression over the last several years.

Despite this, Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov stated that Armenia hasn’t taken any official actions to freeze its cooperation with the CSTO. He stated that Russia was reaching out to Armenia in order to seek clarification on the Prime Minister's statements, saying, “Let’s hope our Armenian friends will explain everything to us.”

There is a growing anti-Russia sentiment among both the populace of Armenia and within the government for what they perceive as Russia's inaction to defend them in the border conflict with Azerbaijan.

The 2021 and 2022 incidents that PM Pashinyan mentions saw Azerbaijan seize large amounts of Armenian internationally recognized territory. The 2022 incidents were particularly violent, with several hundred people killed across the two sides. In both events, Armenia called upon the CSTO for assistance but was denied.


February 21st - 22nd, 2024 - France and Armenia held a series of diplomatic visits aimed at strongly increasing cooperation between the two nations. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan visited France in order to hold meetings with President Emannuel Macron and several French business leaders, as well as to witness the entombment of Missak Manouchian, an Armenian French-Resistance fighter who was killed during WW2, in the Paris Pantheon. In Armenia was the French Minister of Defence, Sebastien Lecornu. Lecornu met with his Armenian counterpart, and was accompanied by several representatives from France’s largest defence companies. Key parts of both visits established the further building of the defence relationship between the two nations, including the signing of several more weapons purchases by Armenia, as well as several different training agreements for Armenian soldiers and officers. Lecornu’s visit to Armenia coincided with the first delivery of French arms that were purchased in October of 2023, with Armenia reportedly on the 22nd receiving three GM200 Radar systems and some night vision technology.

President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan pictured in Paris on February 21st, 2024 (Photo -

February 22nd, 2024 - Cypriot authorities detained two Lebanese men on charges of human trafficking on Thursday after the duo allegedly smuggled nearly 150 Syrian refugees onto the island nation. According to authorities, the two men charged $2,500 for each passenger in exchange for making the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean and onto Cyprus. This follows calls by Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides to designate areas of Syria as refugee-safe zones in order to stem the flow of migrants into Europe, a move he claims will help alleviate pressure on the EU. Cyprus has seen 37% fewer migrants reaching the shores of the nation in 2023 as compared to 2022; however, the number of Syrian migrants has increased exponentially, with a 355% increase.

February 23rd, 2024 - Sebastian Kurz, the former Chancellor of Austria, was convicted on Friday on charges of giving false testimony to an inquiry that questioned the corruptibility of his government in 2020. Kurz was questioned regarding appointments to the state holding company, OBAG, including the appointment of a close friend and OBAG’s first leader, Thomas Schmied. Kurz resigned from his position in 2021 after prosecutors opened an investigation into him and nine other people regarding various degrees of complicity in bribery, corruption, and breach of trust. Originally, Kurz had claimed that he was only informed of the appointments; however, text messages and documents provided to the court by Schmied disproved Kurz’s claims, with the court agreeing with prosecutors that Kurz held final say regarding the appointments. The 37-year-old ex-Chancellor will spend eight months in prison, although the sentence is suspended in the meantime.

Middle East

February 24th, 2024 - Egypt had announced a 35 billion USD investment from the UAE in order to begin the construction of a new city, Ras El Hekma, on Egypt’s northern coast. The Emirati investment will flow into Egypt over the next two months. Construction on the city is to start in early 2025, and according to Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, it will attract $150 billion in total investment throughout the project. No estimated date of completion has been established. The development is to span 170 km2 and be a “next generation city” according to ADQ, the Emirati investment fund that is heading the project. Ras El Hekma will feature its own airport, a marina, tourism and light industry developments, schools and universities, and residential zones. The project is expected to do much to combat Egypt’s economic crisis, which has seen inflation rates rise to record levels, foreign investment and foreign currency supplies be distinctly low, and Egypt be increasingly buried in debt. The announcement comes at the same time that Egypt has announced negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout deal are nearing completion, which will see the IMF grant Egypt $10 billion in financial assistance. The project and the IMF deal are expected to greatly assist in ending Egypt’s economic crisis.

Pictured is Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly (Photo from KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images).

February 20th, 2024 - The US has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war for the third time. The resolution, which was proposed by Algeria, had passed 13-1 before the veto. The US was the only country to vote against the resolution, whereas the UK abstained. The US stated they vetoed the ceasefire, claiming it would have jeopardized ongoing hostage release negotiations. The veto has been condemned by traditional enemies and allies of the US alike, with allies saying they “regret” that the ceasefire did not pass and enemies accusing the US of greenlighting further civilian casualties.


February 20th, 2024 - The Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, has resigned after three years in service as PM, prompting the entirety of the DRC's government to resign. The now-former PM resigned in accordance with Congolese law, which states that an active parliamentary legislator cannot also be an active minister. Lukonde was first appointed as PM in 2021. More recently, he was elected to parliament during the DRC's December 20th, 2023, elections, forcing him to choose between one or the other. Lukonde has stated he is resigning in order to focus on his duties as a member of parliament. Despite his resignation and the dissolution of the government in response, DRC President Felix Tshisekedi has requested that Lukonde continue managing the current affairs, "taking into account the situation in the country and pending the appointment of the new government."

A photo of former PM Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde in Paris, 2023 (Photo - Lewis Joly/AFP/Getty Images).

February 22nd, 2024 - Four Kenyan police officers were arrested during a raid by Kenya's transnational Organized Crime Unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) against a house on the outskirts of Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. The raid was successful, catching two officers involved in the plot off guard. After a brief chase, the two officers were arrested, and 35 Ethiopian nationals were rescued from the house. During the raid, the other two officers involved in the plot showed up with another two Ethiopian nationals, bringing the total to 37. The two other officers were subsequently arrested. All four of the police officers arrested were armed at the time; however, the arrests were able to be carried out without any violence. The 37 Ethiopian nationals, thought to be victims of a human trafficking plot to bring them to South Africa, are just a few of the many Ethiopian nationals that make the journey to South Africa in the pursuit of better living conditions. It is estimated that tens of thousands of people each year attempt to make the journey from Ethiopia all the way to South Africa. A smaller number of Somalians also make the journey. Kenya is a key first stop before they head to Tanzania, Malawi, and then eventually to South Africa.

February 20th, 2024 - Both France and the US have issued condemnations for alleged Rwandan support of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s M23 rebels and demanded they halt any assistance. The international condemnations aimed at Rwanda come as combat between the M23 and the DRC’s military has escalated drastically, so much so that the capital of the North Kivu province, Goma, is in danger of being isolated. Combat has been ongoing around the town of Sake for approximately two weeks and has effectively shut down all routes to Goma. The situation has escalated after the UN accused Rwanda of deploying surface-to-air missile systems on the M23’s behalf, which they spotted after one of such systems allegedly fired at a UN observation drone. Both Rwanda and the M23 have denied Rwandan support for the group, with Rwanda instead accusing the DRC of attempting to use Rwanda as a scapegoat due to its inability to solve its own problems.

The Americas

February 25th, 2024 - Thousands gathered in Brazil’s capital of Sao Paulo on Sunday in support of former President Jair Bolsonaro’s ongoing criminal investigation regarding an alleged coup attempt following the former President’s loss to his left-wing rival, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in the nation’s 2022 general election. The former President has been the subject of a number of investigative measures, including a police raid on his home in Rio de Janeiro, which culminated in the seizure of his passport earlier this month in order to minimize the ex-President’s flight risk. Police also issued search warrants against four former ministers, while four former aides were arrested during the time of the raid. Bolsonaro is already barred from running for any public office until 2030, following his connection to the 2023 Capitol Siege, in which a mob of Bolsonaro supporters raided the government building, causing severe damage.

Protestors clad in yellow and green wave Israeli flags amid Bolsonaro’s rally (Photo - Andre Penner/AP)

February 22th, 2024 - A 22-year-old self-identified white supremacist who killed four members of a Muslim family in 2021 was sentenced to life imprisonment in Canada on Thursday, three months following his original conviction. The victims were members of the Afzaal family who had originally migrated to Canada from Pakistan and included Salman Afzaal, 46; his wife, Madiha Salman, 44; their 15-year-old daughter, Yumnah; and Afzaal's 74-year-old mother, Talat. The couple's nine-year-old son also suffered injuries during the attack but survived. The prosecution argued that the attack carried out by Nathaniel Veltman was carried out in order to spread fear among racial and religious minorities, citing a manifesto he had written entitled "A White Awakening," in which he outlined hatred of Islam alongside opposition to mass immigration and multiculturalism. Veltman pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder, while his defense argued the attack amounted to a lesser charge of manslaughter, arguing Veltman suffered from mental challenges.

February 21st, 2024 - Colombia’s National Liberation Army (ELN) announced on Wednesday that peace talks between the rebel group and the government were in “crisis” following claims that the government had failed to uphold half of a prior peace deal that was signed earlier this month. The government has denied any accusation of failing to uphold the agreement, claiming that “they [the ELN] generate an unnecessary crisis that prolongs the armed confrontation and the violence that communities suffer, as well as weakening society's confidence in [the ELN's] will for peace." When interviewed by Reuters regarding the raised tensions, ELN leader Antonio Garcia stated that the group will resort to violence if the agreement is violated.

Asia and Oceania

February 17th, 2024 - Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), gave a statement about the February 14th incident near Kinmen Island that caused the deaths of two Chinese fishermen. Zhu first said that incident significantly angered “all circles on the mainland and seriously hurt the feelings of compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.” She stated that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China and that Taiwan is “an unalienable part of China’s territory.” Zhu then pointed out that people on both sides of the Strait have fished in the waters near Kinmen and Jinhai since ancient times. However, Zhu also stated that there are no prohibited or restricted waters surrounding the Kinmen Islands. The incident in reference seen a Taiwanese Coast Guard boat chase a Chinese fishing boat that crossed into Taiwan’s territory and failed to submit to inspection. The fishing boat capsized during the chase and two Chinese fishermen were killed. Taiwan rescued and detained two other fishermen on the boat. China has called for their immediate return to the mainland.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian, during press conference. (Photo - Chinese state media)

February 22nd, 2024 - A North Korean-made short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) used by Russia in Ukraine was found to contain more than 290 foreign-sourced components. The study by the U.K.-based organization Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found that over 75% originated from the United States and that the parts were manufactured in the last three years, which calls into question the sanctions placed on North Korea to hinder missile development. The names of the 26 manufacturers have been withheld by CAR. Most of the American parts found inside the SRBM are related to the guidance system. The munition analyzed was the KN-23 or KN-24, recovered from Kharkiv on January 2nd. This recovery also confirmed the use of North Korean weapons by Russia, showing the two countries have further developed relations.

February 25th, 2024 - Tuvalu’s Parliament elected Feleti Teo as the country’s new Prime Minister (PM) on Monday morning in the capital of Funafuti. Teo won because he was reportedly the only name put forward for the PM during the vote. His win marks the first time in Tuvalu’s history that a PM was elected unopposed. While the cabinet ministers and portfolio are currently unknown, they will be revealed on February 27th at the Oath Taking Ceremony. Teo’s election as PM means that the country will continue its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan. However, China will continue its influence operations in the country in the hopes of eventually having a government that is more friendly to China.

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.The 1The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News