The Atlas Newsletter - Volume 68

The Atlas Newsletter – World Updates & International News

Monday, June 10th, 2024

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

Europe Goes to the Ballot Box

Jordan Bardella, the lead candidate for the Rassemblement National, obtained the most seats in the European elections in France. (CREDIT: JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP.)

June 9th, 2024: (2 Minute Read) The recent European Parliament election results in France reveal a significant shift from previous elections, with a clear lead for the rightwing populist Rassemblement National party (RN).

RN led the polls in France, securing 31.5% of the vote. Following RN, the “Besoin d’Europe” coalition (centrist to center-right), which includes Renaissance (President Macron’s party), Modem, Horizons, Parti Radical, Union des démocrates et indépendants , garnered 15.2%. The “Réveiller l’Europe” coalition (center-left to left-wing), consisting of the Parti socialiste and Place publique, received 14%. Other notable results include La France Insoumise (far-left) with 8.7%, Les Républicains (center-right) at 7.2%, and La France fière (right-wing to far-right) at 5.5%. Ecologists (Europe Écologie Les Verts, left-wing) secured 5.2%, while the remaining parties and coalitions received lower percentages. The election outcome highlights a significant shift towards the RN, impacting the political landscape and future policy directions within the European Parliament.

Jordan Bardella from RN secured a significant victory with 31.5% of the votes. This result not only doubled that of the incumbent presidential party and also showed a nearly ten-point increase from the RN’s performance in the 2019 European elections.

Following the announcement of the results, Bardella linked his party’s strong performance to widespread disapproval of President Emmanuel Macron’s policies. His campaign shifted focus towards national issues, distancing from common European subjects. Bardella saw the results as indicative of broader discontent with the current administration.

During an event in Paris, he advocated for new legislative elections, emphasizing the need for humility and responsibility given the electoral results.

In response to the RN’s historic performance, President Emmanuel Macron announced the dissolution of the National Assembly and set the dates for the upcoming legislative elections on June 30th and July 7th. He justified the dissolution stating that:


Macron acknowledged the disappointing performance of pro-European parties and voiced concerns over the rising influence of extreme right movements across Europe. He highlighted the threats posed by increasing nationalism and demagoguery to France’s role in Europe and on the global stage, affirming his commitment to addressing the electorate’s concerns and upholding democratic values.


June 5th, 2024 - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on Wednesday that Germany will purchase an additional 20 Eurofighter aircraft and has planned to purchase eight more F-35 fighter jets in an effort to rebuild the nation's military strength amid the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war, days after the country increased its order for 155mm artillery shells from Rheinmetall, an arms and ammunition producer in Germany. Germany's recent military buildup and assertive actions follow Scholz's “Zeitenwende speech,” or “turning point” in 2022. In the speech, the chancellor stated that Germany would increase its military spending from 1.5% to NATO’s target of 2% of the nation’s GDP in response to perceived Russian aggression in Ukraine. Not only does Zeitenwende seek to increase military spending, but the policy also aims to secure Germany’s independence from Russian gas, instead moving towards renewable energy. Scholz has successfully made progress on the Zeitenwende, with Germany’s 2024 budget set to meet the 2% goal imposed by NATO for the first time since the late 1990s amid the Cold War.

Olaf Scholz speaking with the CEO of Airbus during the Berlin Air Show. (Photo – Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

June 5th, 2024 - An Alternative for Germany (AfD) politician was attacked with a box cutter in the city of Mannheim on Wednesday, days after another attack at a Pax Europa rally in the same city by an Afghan immigrant. The politician, Heinrich Koch, was attacked after he confronted the suspect for tearing down election posters. After the confrontation, Koch was slashed and suffered injuries to his head and stomach that required stitches. After the attack, police reported that they had arrested the 25-year-old suspected attacker, stating that the suspect showed clear signs of mental illness. They subsequently transported the suspect to a psychiatric hospital. One of AfD's leaders, Alice Weidel, announced the attack in a post on X, wishing Koch a fast recovery. In a separate post on X, Weidel shared a video likely taken by Koch of the incident, wherein the suspect appears with multiple posters under his left arm and a box cutter in his right hand. The only visible poster appears to be an AfD poster, which likely reads "Unser Land Zuerst!" (Our country first!).

June 6th, 2024 - Spain's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares, has announced the nation's intention to intervene in South Africa's genocide case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel, on the side of South Africa. Spain joins a quickly growing list of nations that have either applied to join, or announced their intention to do so. Most recently, the State of Palestine formally applied to intervene on June 3rd. This followed Chile who announced their intention to intervene on June 1st, and Mexico who applied formally to join on May 28th. Notably, Spain also recently issued an official recognition of Palestinian statehood, which was subject to significant Israeli condemnation. Spain's recognition came as a joint move with Ireland and Norway on May 28th, which was soon followed by Slovenia, who officially recognized Palestinian statehood on Tuesday, June 4th.

Middle East

June 5th, 2024 - Six people were arrested in connection to a shooting attack that took place on the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. The first person that was arrested was the shooter himself, a Syrian national that Lebanese and US authorities have said was “what appeared to be ISIS insignia,” who was injured by Lebanese forces in the attack. After the shooter was shot in return fire by Lebanese forces, he was taken into custody and sent to a hospital for treatment. In addition to the shooter, three members of his family were also arrested, as well as an additional Syrian national and a Lebanese national who hold a relationship to the shooter, though said relationship was not disclosed. During the attack a member of the Lebanese security team was seriously injured. The embassy remained closed for the day, but reopened the following day.

June 6th, 2024 - According to the UN and Gazan health officials, at least 40 people, approximately half of which were women and children, were killed early Thursday morning in an Israeli strike on a UNRWA school in the Nuseirat camp in Gaza. The strike took place using “at least three missiles” according to witness journalists, at least two of which were US supplied munitions. According to UN officials, approximately 6,000 people were sheltering in and around the school at the time of the attack. In contrast, Israel has claimed that approximately 30 Hamas and PIJ militants were targeted in the strike, though they gave no figure as to how many militants in total they claim died in the strike. Israel released a graphic showing the identities of nine individuals they claim were killed in the strike, as well as their affiliation and role with Hamas. However these identities were disputed by Gazan authorities who claimed the individuals portrayed were not members of Hamas, further claiming that some of them had already been killed, or were not within Gaza at all, as was the case with one individual they claimed had not been in Gaza for 18 years.

A photo of some of the aftermath of the June 6th strike by Israel on the UNRWA school in the Nuseirat camp, in Gaza (Photo from CNN).

June 6th, 2024 - The IDF, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) were all added to a UN list of groups and nations that have perpetrated abuses against children in armed conflict. The UN black list, known as the “list of shame,” also has on it countries such as Afghanistan, Sudan, and Syria. Last year, Russia was added to the list due to actions taken in Ukraine. The decision, undertaken by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, has been extensively condemned by Israeli officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu said that the move puts the UN on “history’s black list,” and further claimed the IDF to be the “most moral military in the world,” a statement frequently iterated by Netanyahu.


June 4th, 2024 - A UK government lawyer has announced that deportation flights to Rwanda of illegal migrants will begin on July 24th. These flights, if they take place, will mark the beginning of the UK’s Conservative Party’s plan to deport illegal migrants and illegal asylum seekers from the UK to Rwanda. The plan has been rather controversial since its establishment over two years ago, facing a number of legal challenges and parliamentary delays that have grounded flights. However, although a date has been set, it does not mean flights will take off. The UK’s election is set for July 4th; an election that it appears highly likely the Conservatives will lose. The main opposition party, the Labour Party, has expressed wishes to scrap the Rwanda plan altogether, and so will prevent flights from taking off if they win.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pictured with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at 10 Downing Street in London, the UK (Photo from Paul Kagame on Instagram).

June 10th, 2024 - More than 80 people have been killed in a string of Islamist attacks, suspected to be the IS affiliated Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). While several attacks have taken place, the deadliest of which occurred on Friday close to the North Kivu town of Beni, has officially killed 41 people when suspected ADF militants launched an attack which set a health centre on fire. The string of attacks, in a region already rife with violence and militancy, has served to increase the pressure upon the government to tackle the insecurity that plagues the eastern region of the DRC. Regardless, the DRC’s government has yet to officially comment upon the Beni attack, despite it having taken place on Friday. It is unknown as to why the government has yet to comment on the attack.

June 8th, 2024 - The Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) launched a raid upon the only functional hospital within the North Darfur city of El Fasher, taking a number of phones and personal possessions of the staff. The raid, in which the hospital director and the medical director were injured, disrupted medical services. RSF militants withdrew from the hospital after Sudanese military forces, alongside allied militias, engaged the RSF. El Fasher is host to a large civilian population, where approximately 800,000 civilians have been essentially trapped inside the city amidst fighting between the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces. Indiscriminate bombings perpetrated by both sides have reportedly led to high civilian casualties, though it is unclear the exact number as, as is the case with the remainder of Sudan, there are no efficient information gathering mechanisms in place for gathering such data.

The Americas

June 4th, 2024 - A leader of Los Chone Killers, a violent Ecuadorian gang in conflict with the infamous Los Choneros gang, which is under the leadership of escaped criminal Jose "Fito" Macias, was captured in Panama and deported to Ecuador, where he will face numerous charges. The leader, identified as "Negro Tulio," has been accused of numerous acts of terrorism in accordance with the President of Ecuador, Daniel Noboa's, declaration of a state of emergency and classification of numerous gangs active within the country as terrorist organizations. These crimes include the planning of numerous attacks, including two separate attacks utilizing explosive devices that left two police officers dead in Duran; the attempted assassination of Luis Chonillo, the mayor of Duran; the assassination of two prosecutors by the names of Angel Palacios and Cesar Suarez; alongside charges of robbery and illicit association. Alongside Tulio, the gang leader's wife, who was identified as Alexandra Germania E., was captured due to her alleged assistance in Tulio's criminal activities. Authorities believe Germania managed the financial accounts of the criminal organization and organized the purchase of arms, munitions, and explosives used in the group's operations. Previously a subdivision within Los Choneros, Los Chone Killers now make up a key portion of an alliance of gangs opposed to Los Choneros known as New Generation, which has made key allies in Mexico, building close relations with the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG), according to Insight Crime.

Captured gang leader known as "Negro Tulio" following his deportation to Ecuador. (Photo - Periodismo Publico Ecuador/X)

June 5th, 2024 - The mayor of Santa Marta, the capital of Colombia's northern department of Magdalena, announced a number of incentives for authorities that display good conduct through the use of proper protocols in terms of making arrests, preventing crimes, and quickly responding to criminal activities. The city has started a fund of one billion pesos ($254.5 thousand USD) in order to facilitate these incentives, which includes gift vouchers, coupons, vacation packages, and further time off. Critics and analysts have raised concerns over the plan, as these incentives align closely with Colombia's "false positive" controversy under the presidency of Alvaro Uribe between 2006 and 2008, warning the mayor that the incentives may have a negative effect. During the false-positive scandal, the Colombian military offered a number of rewards for soldiers with a large kill count against Colombia's Marxist guerilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) among other armed groups active within Colombia. These incentives led to the deaths of an estimated 6,402 civilians who were lured to rural areas of the country, killed, and dressed in militant uniforms before being passed off as guerillas. After the scandal was discovered, the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), a transitional court system that played a massive role in facilitating the peace deal between the FARC and the government in 2016, began an intensive investigation into multiple figures in the military, with more than 3,500 members of the military being placed under investigation.

June 5th, 2024 - The United States Department of Foreign Assets Control announced on Wednesday that the country would initiate sanctions against Ecuador's Los Lobos gang alongside the gang's leader, Wilmer Geovanny "Pipo" Chavarria Barre. In a statement released by the US Department of Foreign Assets Control, the department stated Los Lobos were targeted due to their participation in the drug trade and Ecuador's current security crisis backed by Mexican cartels. President Noboa welcomed the sanctions, thanking the United States for their support amid the ongoing security crisis and promising the Ecuadorian people that the government will confront the country's underworld. In a statement released by the US Department of Foreign Assets Control, the department stated Los Lobos were targeted due to their participation in the drug trade and Ecuador's current security crisis backed by Mexican cartels. Los Lobos began as a gang of hitmen for Los Choneros, which is currently under the leadership of infamous escaped criminal Jose “Fito” Macias. However, in 2021, Los Lobos, along with other gangs, would turn on Los Choneros, assassinating key leaders of the gang and eventually gaining significant control over Ecuador. This new alliance of gangs is known as the New Generation and has close ties to the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG).

Asia and Oceania

June 10th, 2024 - At approximately 0700 EST on June 8th, 2024, initial reports indicated that seven were killed and more were injured after a junta airstrike on a monastery in Tha Pyay Thar Village, Sagaing Region. By 0700 EST June 10th, that death toll had risen to 13 killed and 40 injured. Of the dead, three have been reported as monks, one as a disabled parishioner, and one as the abbot of the monastery. It is important to note that both Yangon Khit Thit and the Irrawaddy have admitted, to varying degrees, that militants from the People’s Defense Team, People’s Administration, and People’s Security Teams (Pa La Pha) were operating in the area of the monastery. The Irrawaddy, which operates from Thailand, a country that cooperates with the Myanmar junta, claimed that villagers admitted the militants were holding a meeting in the monastery when it was struck. This attack follows a junta bombardment on June 3rd, 2024, which killed at least 27 people at Mataw village in Sagaing’s Mingin Township.

A building destroyed by the junta’s airstrike on a Sagaing monastery in Thabyay Thar village, Sagaing Township, on Saturday. (Photo: Red Peacock)

June 8th, 2024 - The United States and South Korea will hold the third round of cost-sharing negotiations for the 28,500-strong U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) in Washington from Monday, June 10th, to Wednesday, June 13th. U.S. Senior Advisor and lead negotiator for security services at the State Department, Linda Specht, said the two nations will discuss the cost-sharing deal, also known as the Special Measures Agreement (SMA), with South Korean counterpart Lee Tae-woo. Since 1991, South Korea has paid for around half the cost of the Korean USFK workers to build military facilities, training for the soldiers, housing, education, and other administrative duties.

June 7th, 2024 - The Netherlands’ Ministry of Defense released a statement that said two Chinese fighter jets intercepted the HNLMS Tromp, a De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate. The fighter jets were likely two JH-7A fighter-bombers. The jets and a Z-19 also approached the Tromp’s NH-90 maritime attack helicopter during its patrol. The ministry characterized the incident as a “potentially unsafe situation” and said that it occurred in international airspace. The Tromp is conducting patrols in the East China Sea to enforce U.N. sanctions against North Korea. The vessel is currently sailing to Japan and will continue its journey as part of Pacific Archer 2024.

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