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.
Iraq’s Sadrist movement head Muqtada al-Sadr seeks to lead the Shiite political decision and establish himself as the sole representative of the Shiites in the next Cabinet.
Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (L) speaks to the press after a meeting with parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, alongside other Sunni parliament members, Najaf, Iraq, April 5, 2015. – Haidar Hamdani/AFP via Getty Images
Iraq’s political parties are going through a tough negotiation process to form the next government. While this been happening each time after an election, this is the first time that the inter-Shiite division casts a shadow over the entire Iraqi political scene.
Inter-Shiite divisions and tension have climaxed to the point of pushing regional and local parties to assume the role of mediator in a bid to bring closer the views between the vanquishers and vanquished in the elections that took place on Oct. 10, 2021.
The Sadr-KDP-Sunni alignment includes 162 seats of the 165 majority required to form a government – 73 from the Sadrist alliance, 54 from the Sunni blocks including Muhammad Halbousi’s Taqaddom and Khamis Khanjar Azm, and 35 from the KDP.
With approximately 45 independents which the majority of them are are likely to align with the winners, the Sadr led group can form the government easily and they only might require a small number of representatives from the framework parties to close the deal on the election of the president that requires two third of the votes, 219 in particular.
The pro-Iran Shiite parties fear that Sadr will solely ally with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, and the sovereignty alliance led by Halbusi and Khamis al-Khanjar, in the Cabinet formation.
Sadr solely allying with the Sunnis and the Kurds implies that all other Shiites will not be included. Hence, Iran rushed to remedy the situation. Al-Monitor learnt that Iran’s Quds Force commander Esmail Ghaani met with Massoud Barzani in Erbil in late January, and asked him not to ally with Sadr without including the rest of the Shiite parties.
Sadr’s visit came two days after the Coordination Framework, which includes Shiite forces and parties, threatened to join the opposition’s ranks in case it was excluded from the next Cabinet that Sadr seeks to form.
Rahman al-Jubouri, former senior researcher at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington, told Al-Monitor, “There is a great possibility that Sadr forms a government without the Coordination Framework.”
He added, “Sadr is seeking to monopolize the Shiite ministries.”
The Coordination Framework’s statement came after Sadr tweeted Jan. 25 that he would form a “national majority government.” This nomenclature did not circulate before, and Sadr is considered to be the first to be using it.
Previously, Sadr had been talking about forming a political majority government. Yet, in the past few weeks, he started talking about a “national majority” government, which according to some, indicates that Sadr backed down on the promise of forming a political majority government.
Sadr does not want to form a majority government without including all Shiite parties. On the contrary, he wants to involve some of them, while excluding the State of Law Coalition, perhaps due to personal differences.
Zeidon al-Kinani, political researcher and doctoral student at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, told Al-Monitor, “While Sadr is indirectly willing to form a consensual government with the Coordination Framework, he wants to make sure that it will have limited powers and influence by dividing it.”
He said, “Sadr wants to see the Coordination Framework without Maliki. That is his attempt to weaken the framework and reduce its strength.”
Sadr is now playing the role of the strong winner, and one can say that he is using this psychological card with the Coordination Framework, which is a rival for the Sadrist bloc supported by Iran, to not allow the Sunni and Kurdish parties to deal with Sadr solely.
A source close to the Coordination Framework told Al-Monitor, “Sadr is using that as a pretext. He does not want to involve the framework, but rather some parties within this framework, such as the Hikma Bloc led by Ammar al-Hakim and Al-Nasr Alliance led by Haider al-Abadi.”
The source, who declined to be named, noted, “There is a preliminary agreement within the framework that either all parties within the framework join hands with Sadr, or none of them. However, there seems to be some kind of doubt within the framework regarding some of its forces joining Sadr in the next Cabinet.”
Sunni and Kurdish parties are currently seeking to bring closer the views between Sadr and the Coordination Framework and to create an understanding between them, following the delivery of messages from Iran and its allies at home that “an alliance with Sadr without us will deepen the crises and portend great dangers.”
The Sunnis and the Kurds do not want to engage in problems with the armed Shiite factions, especially since they are accused of having targeted Erbil airport several times as well as the headquarters of Halbusi’s party. This is why they tend to involve everyone, but not at their own expenses in the next Cabinet.
Iraqi Shiite political leader Moqtada Al Sadr on Thursday urged dialogue not violence to settle regional differences after a spate of attacks against Gulf states by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
“It is important that Iraq not be a springboard for aggression against regional countries,” he said.
Mr Sadr said that he adds his voice to those calling for an end to the war in Yemen and against normalising relations with Israel but “this is not through violence and fighting, rather through dialogue and understanding with regional countries”.
He also cautioned that Iraq must not become a springboard for attacks against regional states and “categorically rejects the involvement of Iraq in such matters”.
“After escalating violence in Iraq by armed terrorist parties, against the interests of the people and political blocs, outlaws risk plunging Iraq into a dangerous regional conflict … [under a] pretext of the war in Yemen,” he said.
Mr Al Sadr is head of the largest Shiite political bloc in Iraq’s parliament after last year’s election and stands in prime place to designate the next prime minister.
The populist firebrand figure has a wide following on the streets and is a strong voice for an independent Iraq without outside influence, which has placed him at odds – on occasion – with Iran-linked Shiite factions.
Mr Al Sadr’s comments came after recent attacks against the UAE and Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
The militia has fired ballistic missiles and armed drones at neighbouring states, most of which have been intercepted by air defences. The attacks were widely condemned by the international community.
During his campaign for president, Joe Biden criticized President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and promised to reverse it.
Whereas Trump embraced a policy of “maximum pressure” to compel Iran to cease terrorism, covert nuclear and ballistic missile work, and other rogue behavior, Biden and Rob Malley, his special envoy for Iran, took the opposite approach. They sought to entice Iran with incentives such as sanctions relief, unfreezing assets, and the liquidation of restricted-use escrow accounts.
In May 2021, Malley was offering Iran relief equivalent to $7 billion, nearly equal to the budget of Iran’s entire conventional military for 2022. As Iranian negotiators stonewalled — they have not sat down with Malley or his team but instead insist on talking through intermediaries — Malley’s team upped the ante. Today, the Biden administration appears poised to provide Tehran with $12 billion, equivalent to a quarter of Iran’s total budget at the real exchange rate. This does not include, of course, the windfall Tehran seeks to gain from increased oil sales already augmented by lack of sanctions enforcement. This fund does not include off-budget spending, such as the oil revenue directly allocated to the Revolutionary Guards or the additional billions that Iran’s national oil company allocates for national stabilization and development but in actuality flows into Revolutionary Guards’ coffers.
Should Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei accept Malley’s offer, the regime will receive an infusion of over $20 billion over the following year, essentially doubling the Revolutionary Guard’s budget. To put that conservative estimate in perspective , a suicide belt costs just $1,500, and the bombing of the Hebrew University cafeteria that killed five Americans cost only $50,000.
Nor does the money now offered to Iran account for the billion-dollar ransoms that the Iranians expect for hostage releases. After all, ever since Jimmy Carter’s administration acquiesced to release Iranian funds in exchange for hostages and Ronald Reagan traded arms for hostages, the Iranian regime simply seizes new hostages to use as chits in their negotiations.
The logic of Malley’s approach appears to be the belief that he can overcome the Iranian regime’s enmity by acquiescing to nearly all its demands. These need not only be financial — it could also be to acquiesce to Iranian influence in Iraq and Lebanon, support the Syrian regime’s rehabilitation, or to normalize Yemen’s Houthis at a time they increasingly attack Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with Iranian-made drones and missiles.
While Biden has criticized maximum pressure, the fact is such pressure has a track record of success. Maximum pressure and diplomatic isolation ended the Iran-Iraq War and, under President Barack Obama, a decline of 5.4% in Iran’s gross domestic product forced Tehran to the negotiating table.
The problem with Malley’s approach is that it has never worked. Ideology matters. Both Democrats and Republicans understood during the Cold War that the key to success was grinding down the Soviet economy, not subsidizing it. When the Clinton administration sought to provide food and oil to North Korea, Pyongyang diverted that assistance to the military and held on to its nuclear program. Decades of aid and concession to Russia and China did not end their enmity; they simply pocketed the cash and focused on their own military programs. Likewise, Palestinian terrorism has surged in direct proportion to Western and U.N. assistance.
Simply put, there is a reason why the Biden administration does not put Malley in front of Congress. If Congress asked Malley for any precedent of success or evidence that administration logic works, he could not answer the question. Malley is not gambling with the future security of America, its allies, and, for that matter, an Iranian public that increasingly despises the regime. Rather, he is selling out each one for nothing in return other than a future of terrorist bloodshed and nuclear blackmail.
Michael Rubin ( @mrubin1971 ) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential. He is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Iran began enriching uranium to a higher purity level of 20 percent when former president Donald Trump tightened US sanctions in May 2019. But it boosted enrichment to the dangerous level of 60 percent in early 2021 when President Joe Biden had announced his readiness to return to the JCPOA, abandoned by Trump in 2018.
Ned Price however, blamed the former administration for triggering Iran’s decision to enrich more uranium to a higher degree of purity. A reporter asked him if he believed Iran had a choice and decided to stockpile more fissile material and get closer to a bomb. Price insisted that the JCPOA was preventing such a move and the US withdrawal from the agreement allowed Iran to boost enrichment.
Tehran has also continued its provocations in the region, with repeated militia drone and rocket attacks in Iraq and Syria against US forces. In January, Iran-backed Houthi forces in an unprecedented escalation began launching missile and drone attacks against the United Arab Emirates.
To what extent the US Congress will stay on the sidelines of policy toward Iran is not clear but Senator Menendez appeared determined to put pressure on the Administration.
“It’s time to start thinking out of the box and consider new strategies for rolling back Iran’s nuclear program and addressing its dangerous and nefarious activities,” he said on the Senate floor.
Correspondent for WAFA stated that Israeli Navy ships opened fire with artillery shells and live fire at Palestinian fishermen who were fishing off the Sudaniyya shore, northwest of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, damaging one fishing boat. No injuries were reported.
In the central part of the tiny coastal enclave, the occupation army fired live rounds and tear gas canisters at Palestinian farmers east of the Al-Maghazi and Al-Bureij refugee camps, forcing the farmers to leave their lands, and causing several to suffer the toxic effects of tear gas inhalation.
On the night of January 29, 2022, shots were fired at an IDF vehicle. No casualties were reported. During the week Palestinians continued throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israel vehicles on the roads in Judea and Samaria. The Israeli security forces carried out counterterrorism activities, seizing weapons.
The Gaza Strip has been relatively quiet. On January 26, 2022, IDF forces detained two Gazans attempting to cross the barrier in the southern Gaza Strip and enter Israeli territory. On January 29, 2022, a senior terrorist operative, formerly of Hamas’ military wing, escaped from a jail in the Gaza Strip. He was arrested two years ago on suspicion of collaborating with Israel and providing information about Hamas’ terrorist tunnels in the northern Gaza Strip. A reward was offered for anyone who could provide information leading to his capture.
Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) condemned Israeli President Herzog’s visit to the UAE. Hamas claimed such visits encouraged Israel to continue its [alleged] “crimes.”
On January 31, 2022, Mahmoud Abbas spoke on the phone with Antony Blinken, the American secretary of state. According to Palestinian sources, Blinken, speaking for President Biden, said the United States was committed to the two-state solution and stressed the importance of creating a political horizon. Blinken also said the American administration was aware of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) political and financial difficulties, and reiterated the administration’s promise to reopen the American consulate in east Jerusalem. PA Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh is supposed to attend the African Unity summit meeting in Addis Ababa. He will go representing Mahmoud Abbas. Objections to giving Israel observer status in the organization will be discussed.
The PLO’s Revolutionary Council conference, planned for February 22, 2022, may not be held. A vote is expected to be held to promote Hussein al-Sheikh to a more important position, leading to a controversy reflecting the Palestinian schism. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) announced they would not participate, and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) (which are not Council members) called for the cancellation of the conference, claiming that holding it without the agreement of all the organizations and without the participation of Hamas and the PIJ would be illegal [sic].
The Palestinians welcomed the Amnesty report claiming Israel operated an apartheid system against the Palestinians. They called on other organizations to expose the measures Israel takes against the Palestinians.
In Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip there was a sharp increase in the number of active coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. The public was called on to get vaccinated and comply with public health guidelines. One million doses of the vaccine manufactured in Russia and donated by the UAE were delivered to the Gaza Strip.