Fault lines left over from the creation of the Appalachian Mountains can still lead to earthquakes locally, and many faults remain undetected. According to the USGS, few, if any, earthquakes in New England can be linked to named faults.
While earthquakes in New England are generally much weaker compared to those on defined fault lines, their reach is still impressive. Sunday’s 3.6 was felt in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and New Hampshire.
USGS Community Internet Intensity Map
While M 3.6 earthquakes rarely cause damage, some minor cracks were reported on social media from the shaking.
According to the USGS, moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in the region every few decades, and smaller earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year.
Russian President Vladimir Putin lauded the salvo launch as a “big event”, and that the “tests were conducted successfully, immaculately.” This test was also the first time Russian authorities reported a successful simultaneous launch of multiple Tsirkon missiles.
Russia previously tested the Tsirkon missile on November 29 and earlier on November 18, firing the missile from surface warships in the White Sea and the country’s Arctic region, respectively.
These tests were preceded by a successful submarine test launch of the missile on October 4, striking a test target in the Barents Sea. Hypersonic weapons are characterized by their capability to fly at five times the speed of sound to evade enemy missile defenses.
Why is Russia so invested in their development? World War II may provide a precedent that can help explain Russia’s motives.
As the Allies and Soviets pushed back Germany on all fronts, the latter was cut off from strategic resources to manufacture armaments. The Allied bombing campaign also took a toll on Germany’s industrial capacity and civilian population, crippling the latter’s ability to field conventional forces.
Faced with this desperate situation, Hitler placed faith in “wonder weapons”, such as the V-1 cruise missile, V-2 ballistic missile, and Fritz-X guided bomb, to offset Germany’s increasing military weakness.
However, they did not save Germany from defeat. They were futuristic weapons at the time, but their technology was unreliable. They consumed more resources to produce relative to the damage they inflicted on the enemy. Moreover, they were too little and too late to affect the course of the war.
Similarly, Western sanctions have recently significantly limited Russia’s ability to modernize its conventional forces. Since the sanctions were implemented in 2014, in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, they have contributed to hobbling Russia’s economic growth to 0.3% per year, compared to the global average of 2.3%.
Furthermore, these sanctions have slashed US$50 billion worth of foreign credits and foreign direct investment (FDI) per year. As a result, the Russian economy is not expected to grow significantly unless Western sanctions are eased.
Russia’s defense spending was cut by 5%, taking it below the level of spending on state-backed industries in 2014. While Russia fields several high-end conventional weapons, notably the T-14 Armata tank and Su-57 stealth fighter, the country’s current economic situation prevents the mass adoption of these high-tech platforms.
Russia’s hypersonic weapons program may be seen as part of a larger asymmetric offset strategy that aims to maintain the deterrent value of its nuclear arsenal, nullify NATO’s qualitative and quantitative superiority and address shortfalls in the country’s conventional force projection capabilities.
The development could shift security calculations in the Middle East and further complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to coax Iran back into its nuclear deal with world powers.
Satellite images from commercial imaging company Planet show the test site in Saudi Arabia on Nov. 2, 2021. Planet Labs PBCDec. 24, 2021, 12:36 PM MSTBy Courtney Kube and Saphora Smith
Saudi Arabia is building its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, according to United States intelligence assessments and satellite images.
The assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies is that the kingdom, which is long thought to have acquired missiles from Beijing, is now manufacturing its own, according to a source familiar with the matter and a U.S. official.
Satellite images obtained by NBC News also suggest that Saudi Arabia is producing ballistic missiles at a site west of the capital, Riyadh, according to researchers at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, in California.
“The key piece of evidence is that the facility is operating a ‘burn pit’ to dispose of solid-propellant leftover from the production of ballistic missiles,” wrote Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute.
They added that the site “appears to have been constructed with Chinese assistance.”
The news was first reported by CNN on Thursday. The images were provided by commercial imaging company Planet Labs PBC.
The development could shift security calculations in the Middle East and further complicate the Biden administration’s efforts to coax Iran back into its nuclear deal with world powers. It could also add another layer of complexity to Washington’s relations with Beijing.
Iran and Saudi Arabia are regional foes and there will be concern that Riyadh’s manufacturing of ballistic missiles could alter Tehran’s calculations on its possible agreements in talks aimed at reviving the 2015 accord. The new development comes days before the talks, which have struggled to make any headway, are expected to resume in Vienna, and may make Iran even more unlikely to give up its own ballistic missiles.
“If Iran were to enter into negotiations over its missile programme, it would be unlikely to accept limits that did not also apply to other countries,” wrote Mark Fitzpatrick, an associate fellow at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, in an article about Saudi Arabia’s ballistic missile program published by the institute in August.
Fitzpatrick, a former State Department official, said at the time that other than a general desire to keep pace with Iran, Riyadh’s motivations for acquiring ballistic missiles were not entirely clear. Unlike Tehran, however, Saudi Arabia is not known to have initiated any work to develop a nuclear warhead for its missiles, he added.
Ballistic missiles are rocket-propelled weapons that can carry conventional explosives as well as nuclear warheads.
Nevertheless, the fact that Saudi Arabia is now known to be manufacturing its own ballistic missiles will spark concerns of a ramped-up arms race in a highly tense region that is already riven with conflict.
The Saudi Ministry of Media did not respond to requests for comment.
Britain on Friday condemned a launch of ballistic missiles by Iran in war games conducted this week.
“These actions are a threat to regional and international security and we call on Iran to immediately cease its activities,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.
In 2018, former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Tehran has since reduced its compliance with the deal, announcing that it would enrich uranium to up to 60 percent purity — significantly closer to the amount needed to make an atomic bomb.
In the past, Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been clear that if Tehran develops a nuclear bomb, Riyadh will also do so.
“Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible,” he told CBS in 2018.
The crown prince is attempting to transform Saudi Arabia from an oil-dependent nation into an economic powerhouse that is more accepted in the West.
The Saudis have long been U.S. allies and enjoyed a close relationship with the Trump administration, but those efforts to overhaul the country’s image were tainted by the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Meanwhile, the continued close military relationship between Saudi Arabia and China will also probably be of concern to the Biden administration as it tries to manage a complex and fraught relationship with Beijing, criticizing its human rights record while also cooperating with Chinese leaders on major global threats like climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Asked to respond to these fresh indications it was aiding Saudi Arabia’s push to produce ballistic missiles, China said it has always opposed the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, and implements strict export controls on missiles and related technologies, according to a statement from its Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners,” the ministry said. “Such cooperation does not violate any international law and does not involve the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”
It added that Beijing has always opposed unilateral sanctions and “will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its own rights and interests.”
Saudi Arabia has been known to have purchased missiles from China in the past but has never built its own, the source familiar with the matter and the U.S. official confirmed.
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH Published: DECEMBER 25, 2021 17:50 Updated: DECEMBER 25, 2021 18:26
Hamas members burn a coffin draped in an Israeli flag, rally marking 13th anniversary of Second Intifada, 2013(photo credit: ABED RAHIM KHATIB/FLASH90)
Palestinian groups and activists have warned that Israel’s practices and settler “assaults” against Palestinians in the West Bank will lead to a new intifada (uprising).The warning came as clashes between Palestinians and IDF soldiers continued over the weekend in various parts of the West Bank.Some Palestinian activists said the intifada has already begun and called for escalating “popular resistance” against the IDF and settlers.
The intifada is already here,” said a senior activist belonging to the ruling Fatah faction. “What we are witnessing in the West Bank is similar to what happened during the First Intifada,” which erupted in 1987.Another activist affiliated with the PLO’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said the growing resentment in the West Bank was also directed toward the Palestinian Authority.Masked Jewish settler throws stones at Palestinian houses, 2008 (credit: NAYEF HASHLAMOUN/REUTERS)“Many people are angry because the Palestinian Authority is not doing anything to defend them against increasing attacks by the Israeli army and the settlers,” the activist said.According to Palestinian sources, dozens of Palestinians were injured on Friday during clashes with IDF troops in several villages and towns in the northern West Bank.Hamas and other Palestinian factions, meanwhile, renewed their call for stepping up “all forms of resistance” against Israel.The PA, for its part, stepped up its criticism of the Jewish state in wake of the growing violence in the West Bank.“At a time when the Palestinian people and the whole world celebrate Christmas, the settler militias, their armed terrorist organizations, the occupation forces and their various branches continue to escalate the aggression against the Palestinian people, their land, property, homes and holy sites,” the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.The ministry claimed that settlers again attacked Palestinians in various parts of the West Bank over the past week “with the participation and support of the occupation army.”The Israeli government is “fully and directly responsible for this expansionist colonial war,” it said, “which constitutes the true essence of the official Israeli policy toward the Palestinian people and their rights.”The ministry called on the international community to put pressure on the Israeli government “to stop its aggression and settlement [policy] immediately, and to truly engage in a peace process and negotiations that lead to the end of the occupation within a specific time limit and in accordance with the approved international peace references.”EARLIER, the PA ministry condemned as a “war crime” the death of a woman north of Ramallah in an apparent car accident involving an Israeli driver. The woman, Ghadeer Masalma, died after being hit by a car near the town of Sinjil. The driver was reportedly afraid to stop near the town, but later reported the accident to the policyThe ministry described the incident as a “hideous extrajudicial killing carried out by a terrorist settler.”Commenting on the death of Masalma, Hamas threatened that “the escalation of the settlers’ crimes against our people in the West Bank will not remain without a deterrent response from our people.”Hamas called on Palestinians in the West Bank to continue the “comprehensive resistance in all its forms, especially the armed one, in response to the crimes of the occupation and settlers.”The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also urged Palestinians to confront the “escalating terrorism against our people” being carried out by IDF soldiers and settlers.The PFLP claimed that what is happening in the West Bank is “in the context of a war of ethnic cleansing with direct orders and full support from the occupation government.”“This organized terrorism requires the development of popular action in various ways,” the group said in a statement. “We call on all our people to unite in the face of this scheme and the fierce and brutal attacks of settlers.”The group called on Palestinians to form “popular guard and protection committees to defend our people and repel settlers’ attempts to storm villages and towns.”Palestinian Islamic Jihad also called for the continuation of attacks on IDF soldiers and settlers, saying this will inevitably lead to a “comprehensive intifada.”Senior PIJ official Sheikh Bassam al-Sa’adi called for intensifying cooperation between all forces and factions to protect our people in the face of conspiracies being hatched against them.”Sa’adi denounced the security coordination between Israel and the PA security forces, saying it emboldened settlers to increase their “aggression” against Palestinians.
Tehran – Iran fired multiple ballistic missiles Friday at the close of five days of military drills that generals said were a warning to arch-enemy Israel.
“These exercises were designed to respond to threats made in recent days by the Zionist regime,” armed forces chief of staff Major General Mohammad Bagheri told state television. “Sixteen missiles aimed and annihilated the chosen target. In this exercise, part of the hundreds of Iranian missiles capable of destroying a country that dared to attack Iran were deployed,” he added.
In a statement issued in London, the British Foreign Office condemned Iran’s use of ballistic missiles, saying it was a “threat to regional and international security”.
“The launch is a clear breach of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which requires that Iran not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons — including launches using ballistic missile technology,” it quoted a spokesperson as saying.Afghan withdrawal, Russia tensions placed on NATO agenda in 2021
The Iranian military drills, dubbed Payambar-e-Azadm or “Great Prophet”, began Monday in Bushehr, Hormozgan and Khuzestan provinces, each of which touches the Gulf. “The military exercise is a serious warning to Zionist regime officials,” said Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps chief Major General Hossein Salami.
“Make the slightest mistake, we will cut off their hand.” The drills come after US national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, amid the Jewish state’s opposition to efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Bennett has accused Iran of “nuclear blackmail” and charged that revenue it gained from sanctions relief would be used to acquire weapons to harm Israelis.
Israeli leaders have also hinted at striking Iran.
Iran says it only wants to develop a civil nuclear programme, but Western powers say its stocks of enriched uranium could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran says won’t enrich uranium beyond 60% if talks failMENA2 min readThe New Arab Staff & Agencies25 December, 2021Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Mohammad Eslami said the enrichment levels were related to the needs of the country, in remarks published by the Russian news agency RIA
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Mohammad Eslami said the enrichment levels were related to the needs of the country, in remarks published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
“Our targets related to enriching uranium are meeting our industrial and production needs… and those of our people,” he was quoted as saying.
Asked whether Iran plans to enrich beyond 60 percent purity if the talks fail, he said “No”.
Eslami was speaking ahead of the resumption on Monday of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Iran’s arch-rival Israel, which staunchly opposes the nuclear deal, had reportedly warned in November that the Islamic republic had taken the technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to military-grade levels of around 90 percent.
Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
The 2015 deal offered Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, but was derailed in 2018 when the US unilaterally withdrew under then president Donald Trump.
Other parties to the deal have taken part in the talks, but the United States has only engaged indirectly.
While the US and its Western allies have repeatedly called on Iran to offer assurances on its nuclear programme, Tehran has insisted sanctions must be lifted first.
US negotiator Rob Malley on Tuesday warned of a “period of escalating crisis” if diplomacy failed to restore the agreement.
In his interview with RIA Novosti, Eslami said Iran’s nuclear activities comply with the regulations of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
The IAEA recently expressed concerns over Iran’s stockpile of highly-enriched uranium, however.
There has been a rapid development of terrorist groups trying to validate their capture of territory and gain recognition as a “government”. The Taliban and Afghanistan are just the latest example.
Colin P. Clark, in an inspiring article in the December issue of Foreign Affairs called “When Terrorists Govern”, paints a chilling scenario of the institutionalisation of terror, with the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and its continued insistence to gain recognition for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the sovereign successor. Clark underlines how the Taliban’s victory isn’t casual but twenty years of infiltration of ministries, and deep entrenchment into Afghan society. Today when the Taliban and on its behalf, Pakistan roams global fora from the UN to the OIC, seeking and demanding recognition, they aren’t reinventing the wheel. This has happened before and while Clark points out that many Islamic terrorist groups, from Mali to Somalia, are trying to get institutional recognition. That the Taliban has inspired other groups to follow their path.
However one could argue that the Taliban had much inspiration from the Hamas. A terrorist group which won elections in order to gain recognition of their capture of Gaza. In that winter of 2005, there was a large group of Israeli’s, Palestinians and international figures who tried to convince the George W. Bush White House and Secretary Rice, that the elections had to be postponed, as if they weren’t Hamas would be legitimised by the ballot box, dooming the Oslo agreements forever. The US administration insisted that elections were non-negotiable, and we find ourselves in 2021, with no further democratic follow-up in the Palestinian territories and the any kind of peace deal still born and frozen. Hamas terrorists still rule Gaza, still do not recognise Israel, still call regularly for its destruction and have managed to institutionalise terror. The world must learn from this example.
In October 2021, Ahmed Asmar reporting for the Anadolou Agency reported that Hamas’s political chief called Taliban’s acting foreign minister Amir Muttaqi to hail Taliban’s victory over the US. He reported that Haniyeh voiced hope that the Taliban movement “could have a role in supporting their brothers in Palestine to liberate Jerusalem.” Institutionalising terror started in 2005, with the opportunity that the Hamas had to legitimise itself without recoginising Israel and without agreeing to forgo terror or call for its destruction.
Coming to Afghanistan in 2021, Jeff Smith, writing for ‘War on the Rocks’ recently, termed the Haqqani as the new kingmaker of Kabul. There is an element of truth in what he has said, for the Haqqani’s today are not only in positions of power but is part of the Taliban government in Afghanistan. This is unlike the situation in the late 1990s when the Taliban had power all by themselves. The Taliban in power today is no different from the administration it established in 1996 when it overran Kabul, at least in social terms. The treatment of women, children and minorities is the same today as it was then. What makes the Taliban different today, is having the Haqqani network openly and officially amongst its midst and as part of the administration.
When the Taliban announced the formation of its first cabinet, several key members of the Haqqani family found a place. Sirajuddin Haqqani, is currently Minister of Interior and one of the two deputies to the Taliban’s supreme leader, Maulvi Haibatullah Akhundzada. Sirajuddin is son of Jalaluddin Haqqani and a protegee of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The Haqqani network pre-dates the Taliban and has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks on US armed forces personnel in Afghanistan. Recently, the ISI’s hold over the Haqqani and by implication on the Taliban was demonstrated quickly when Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani was appointed as the chief of security of Kabul a week before the August 2021 bombing at Kabul airport which killed 13 US military personnel and over 160 Afghan civilians.
The Haqqani Network is named after Jalaluddin Haqqani, who had first fought the Soviet Army in Afghanistan as an ally of the CIA and the ISI, and then fought the US and NATO forces. While fighting the US in Afghanistan Jalaluddin lived a protected life in North Waziristan, where Pakistan gave him and the entire Network safe haven. He has been an UN-designated global terrorist since 2007, and the FBI has a reward of US$ 10 million for information leading to his arrest. The ascendancy of the Haqqani’s within the Taliban organization is also a result of the ISI’s support and strategy. The objective being to have a force within the Taliban that would allow Pakistan to control the Taliban.
The strategic reason for Pakistan to fill the Taliban hierarchy with its own people stemmed from the increasing ethnic factionalism that was being witnessed in the organization. The military and financial power of the Haqqani proved to be useful for the ISI at this time. The other reason for Pakistani support to the Haqqani Network is that unlike the Taliban which has always wanted to focus its attention on Afghanistan, the former is more open to the idea of global jihad. The Haqqani have had ties with groups like the Al-Qaida. Ideologically and operationally, the Haqqani’s are more aligned to international terrorist groups like ISIS and AQ. The roots of the Haqqani Network can be traced back to 1973. At this point, Pakistan’s ISI started arming and supporting groups to counter Prime Minister Daoud Khan’s assistance to Baloch insurgents in Pakistan. One of these groups was the Haqqani. In 1975, based in the tribal areas in Pakistan, the Haqqani launched their first attack in Afghanistan.
After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1989, Pakistan activated all the mujahideen groups, including the Haqqani to fight the Soviets. Of the Afghan seven, the Haqqani were considered the favorite, getting the largest share of arms and funds. What caught the attention of the CIA and ISI was Jalaluddin Haqqani’s fundraising skills, tribal connections, and fluency in Arabic. The Zadran tribe, to which Jalaluddin belonged, straddled the border between Loya Pakhtia in Afghanistan and North Waziristan. As Jeff Smith notes “the border crossings under its control provided the network leverage over the flow of drugs, trade, and fighters coming across the porous border, with additional revenue earned from smuggling, kidnapping, and extortion”.
When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban took hold of Kabul, the Haqqani’s initially resisted their rise. But by 1995, Jalaluddin had moved to the Taliban and was subsequently appointed as Minister for Tribal and Border Affairs. Well-known American columnist Steve Coll writes that the Haqqani Network did more than any other group to support Arab volunteer fighters, providing the ground for the birth of the Al-Qaeda. By mid-2005, Sirajuddin had taken over from his father and was spearheading Haqqani operations in Loya Pakhtia. And in 2007, the Haqqani officially became a part of the Taliban. Sirajuddin was granted a seat on the Leadership Council.Advertisement
As recently as May 2021, a UN report described the Haqqani Network as “Taliban’s most combat-ready forces [with] a highly skilled core of members who specialise in complex attacks and provide technical skills, such as improvised explosive device and rocket construction….The Haqqani Network remains a hub for outreach and cooperation with regional foreign terrorist groups and is the primary liaison between the Taliban and Al-Qaida”. While the Haqqani had been a part of the Taliban since 2007, it was never clear if the former fully accepted the top Taliban leadership as the boss. The Haqqani acted on many occasions on their own, attacking US and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
Soon after the formation of the new government in Kabul, there ensued a power struggle between the Haqqani and the Taliban, which was eventually settled by ISI chief Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed flying in from Islamabad.
This connection in between the Haqqani’s and the Pakistani state, will continue to inspire the attempts institutionalisation of other terrorist groups-Al Qaeda in Yemen, Al Shabab in Somalia, Sahel-based Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in North Western Syria. The Hayat Tahrir have infact released a statement lauding how the Taliban’s achievements have helped them develop a roadmap.
Hezbollah’s rise in Lebanon’s power structure is also a perfect example of the state and terror networks validating each other.
Unlike the Hamas and Hezbollah, the Taliban does not have to worry about power sharing. However, the Hamas and Hezbollah are dependant on several states, Iran being one of their primary sponsors. In the case of the Taliban, it is the case of the tail wagging the dog, with Pakistan now trying to control the Taliban and Afghanistan through the Haqqani network. The fear is that this model will inspire and justify further terrorist groups to seek legitimacy without agreeing to form the part of the global order. If the world is not careful and does not react quickly, all these terrorists may inspire each other and decide to “go global” attacking western targets.