said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”
“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”
It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history.
About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.
In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2
, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2
from an earthquake of similar magnitude.
“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”
CNBC Television published this video item, entitled “Israel and Hamas agree to a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip” – below is their description.
Israel’s Security Cabinet approved a tentative cease-fire after 11 days of fighting with Hamas in Israel in the Gaza Strip. The latest round of fighting has marked the worst outbreak of violence since the war between Israel and Hamas in 2014. “I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and are to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy,” President Biden said from the White House.CNBC Television YouTube Channel
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However, speaking on Thursday, Mr Macron predicted that the multi-billion dollar AUKUS security pact “will not deliver”.
He also insisted that the French submarine deal was “still on the table”.
Speaking to reporters in Bangkok, Mr Macron said that Canberra’s original deal with France was “not confrontational to China because they are not nuclear-powered submarines”.
Mr Macron also blasted the actions of then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for agreeing to the AUKUS deal.
Emmanuel Macron giving a speech in Bangkok on Thursday (Image: Getty Images )
Emmanuel Macron welcoming Antony Albanese to the Elysee Palace in July (Image: Getty Images )
He said: “But the choice made by prime minister Morrison was the opposite, re-entering into nuclear confrontation, making himself completely dependent by deciding to equip themselves [with a] submarine fleet that the Australians are incapable of producing and maintaining in-house.”
Last year, Mr Macron accused Mr Morrison of lying to him by not informing him until the last minute that the contract for the submarines was going to be cancelled.
This week the French President reiterated his claim that Mr Morrison had been economical with the truth insisting “I don’t think, I know.”
Although the comments were aimed at Mr Morrison and his Liberal administration, his most recent comments were also aimed at Anthony Albanese’s Labor Government which is sticking with AUKUS.
Scott Morrison pictured at a press conference in 2020 (Image: Getty Images )
An anti-Aukus demonstration in Sydney in December 2021 (Image: Getty Images )
But it wasn’t Hakim’s first meeting that day. The Babylon summit may even prove to have been the least important.
A few hours earlier, Hakim had a meeting that one of his assistants described as “seductive”.
It took place at his political headquarters, a few blocks away from Baghdad’s Babylon.
Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general who would later be slain in a US drone strike, was there, presenting what seemed at the time to be “the opportunity of a lifetime”, a Shia political leader familiar with events told Middle East Eye.
According to Hakim’s assistant, Soleimani proposed the scion of a clerical family become the dominant figure in Iraq’s Shia politics, backed by Iran and overseeing the mosaic of ferocious armed factions. He would be given wide powers, a huge budget, and political, media and religious backing.
In return, Hakim had to forget the alliance he was about to form with Sadr and prepare for life as his rival, ready to oppose the cleric whenever necessary.
Hakim was propelled into politics in 2009 when he succeeded his father as leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), one of the key parties that set up Iraq’s post-Saddam political system.
But a year before the two meetings, Hakim left ISCI to establish his own project, al-Hikma, to distance himself from both the politics of his father’s old comrades and Iran, the assistant said.
That move achieved some results. Hakim emerged from the May 2018 elections with relative success, his newly formed bloc obtaining 25 seats. It was a platform he felt could propel him on the road to become a leading moderate Shia voice attractive to Shia liberals.
‘From our point of view, Shia rule will not be strong and effective unless everyone is under the umbrella of the state’
– Prominent Hikma leader
Hakim rejected Soleimani’s offer and went to his meeting with Sadr, which would lead to a new parliamentary bloc including most political forces not associated with Iran.
Almost five years later, “in an attempt to put their cards in order in Iraq”, the Iranians tabled a similar offer to Hakim in July, Shia and Kurdish political leaders familiar with the talks told MEE.
This time the offer includes empowering Hakim politically, militarily and in the media “to be the Shia counterpart to Sadr”, several Iraqi politicians told MEE.
Both men come from two of the most famous clerical families of Najaf, and are symbolic of the religious authority associated with the holy city.
Yet in the October 2021 elections, Hakim performed disastrously, winning just two seats. Weakened, he “eagerly seized the Iranian offer, and rushed to play the role required of him in the best way”, one of Hakim’s prominent Shia allies told MEE.
The Iranians also began implementing some of what they promised. Media platforms and channels owned by the political forces and armed factions linked to Iran began presenting Hakim as the spearhead of the Iranian-backed Shia forces.
Hakim was able to grow his number of MPs to 11 when Sadr’s withdrew in June, and despite this modest number, he became one of three leading voices in the Coordination Framework, an alliance of Iran-backed forces. In fact, he has often been the strongest voice, bending the alliance’s direction to his will, several Framework leaders told MEE.
Militarily, Hakim’s people were granted 3,600 positions within the Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary umbrella organisation, much of which is dominated by Iran, Hashd commanders said.
He also regained offices and equipment he lost to the ISCI in 2017.
In return, Hakim began reconciling with his old ISCI colleagues “to unify efforts and resources” of the movement of the Martyr of the Mihrab, as Hakim’s late uncleand founder of the ISCI is known, against the Sadrists, Shia leaders told MEE.
Already, Hakim’s public speech has taken a sharp turn. In a July interview with the BBC, he publicly criticised Sadr and his followers for the first time since 2003.
Hakim, who is known to be reserved with journalists, spent two-thirds of the interview answering questions related to Sadr and the actions of the cleric’s followers.
“Ammar jumped with both feet from the American trench into the Iranian trench and burned all his cards,” a Shia political leader close to Hakim told MEE.
Many Iraqi political parties and armed factions, particularly those who performed poorly, believe the US and UN conspired to manipulate the October 2021 election in some parties’ favour. Hakim is one of those who believe this to be true.
“He switched projects after his recent loss. He felt wronged and that the last [western] project in Iraq, whether intentionally or accidentally, has crushed him politically.”
When asked about the Iranian scheme to create a counterweight to Sadr, three al-Hikma leaders acknowledged that it began in June and did not deny Hakim was a key player. But none of them seemed confident in its agenda, effects or those behind it.
“The Iranians tried to revive the [old] project, but there was no real and serious engagement with what they proposed,” a prominent al-Hikma leader told MEE.
“The project is not feasible. It was presented as a reaction to what the Iraqi political arena is currently witnessing, and not as a conviction. The timing of the proposal is not appropriate and we do not think that the partners are ready to deal with it in a manner that satisfies us.”
According to the source, Hakim will only accept the Iranian offer if three conditions are met: Iran’s proxies give up their weapons, their paramilitaries are disbanded and Iraqi law is followed.
“From our point of view, Shia rule will not be strong and effective unless everyone is under the umbrella of the state. This necessarily means that no one is above the law and no weapon is other than that of the state,” he added.
“The Iranians want the whole package and are not ready to give up the weapons they control outside the umbrella of the state. This does not suit us and we do not adopt it.”
At least, this is what the course of events suggests over the past year, a period of chaotic politics and stagnation where neither Iran’s allies nor opponents have managed to seize control.
Iraqi politicians and officials and western diplomats all note that, though three years ago Iran’s word was carried out far more easily and rapidly, Tehran has still obtained economic, financial and political gains during the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, more than ever before.
Kadhimi helped to release Iranian funds frozen by US sanctions in TBI Bank, and bills for the Iranian gas exported to Iraq are paid without any delay.
Also, Kadhimi played a pivotal role in restoring Iranian-Saudi relations, which were severed in 2016, and indirect negotiations are currently underway to resume Iranian-Jordanian-Egyptian relations with Iraq’s mediation, Iraqi officials said.
“It is the Iranian approach to working in Iraq that has differed,” a senior Iraqi official close to Kadhimi told MEE.
“It is certain that they are still a very strong player in the Iraqi arena, but they are no longer the strongest player. Iran is still able to inflict heavy losses on the political process and end any political player and remove him from the game, but it is no longer able to impose the alternative that it chooses.”
The “approach” that the Iraqi official refers to is the way that different branches of the Iranian authorities – the Revolutionary Guard, the intelligence, and the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – all drive policy in Iraq, with occasionally competing interests, bemusing Iraqi partners and opponents alike.
A senior commander of a prominent Iran-backed armed faction told MEE: “That confused our guys, and it still confuses most people. They have not yet understood the role-playing game that the Iranians are good at.”
The armed factions, the senior commander said, operate between two extremes: seeing someone as a sworn enemy or as a close ally. So when Tehran encourages them to change tack, “they cannot move between the two situations without losing face”.
Iran has simply been unable to overcome the absence of Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the godfather of most Iran-backed armed factions who was also killed in the same January 2020 drone strike as the general.
Without them, the Iranian-backed armed factions have repeatedly squabbled with each other, their allies and their opponents, hamstringing Iran’s ability to manoeuvre in Iraq, political leaders close to Tehran and paramilitary commanders told MEE.
With this in mind, it’s most accurate to say that we are currently seeing the effects of the Revolutionary Guard’s weakened influence playing out, the political leaders said.
“The Iranian Revolutionary Guard is at its weakest [in Iraq] now. Their tools are the same, but the mastermind [Soleimani] is absent,” a Shia political leader close to Iran told MEE.
“Soleimani’s relationship with his followers was exceptional and very special. It was even stronger than their relationship with Khamenei himself.
‘The Revolutionary Guard is at its weakest [in Iraq] now. Their tools are the same, but the mastermind [Soleimani] is absent’
– Shia political leader
“This relationship no longer exists, and Iranians have not succeeded in overcoming the losses caused by Soleimani’s assassination in all the arenas in which he worked.”
According to the sources, Iran believes it was a mistake to concentrate so much power and responsibility in the hands of one man, as the vacuum left by Soleimani’s death has proved very damaging.
Instead, several Iraqi political leaders said, Iranian officials have forced members of the Revolutionary Guard working on Iraq to take several steps back and allow the intelligence service to mitigate the losses inflicted by Soleimani’s death.
Neither agency has the right to act or carry out any operation without Shamkhani’s approval, the leaders said.
One key Shia political leader speculated that the scheme to create an alternative to Sadr could be the work of “junior” Revolutionary Guard commanders working in Iraq, who have been resisting the recent changes in tactics pursued by Iranian intelligence.
However, enabling Hakim to be a “social” match for Sadr, “is something entirely different”, a senior commander of a prominent Iranian-backed Shia armed faction told MEE.
“The Iranians are not pushing for a political or military counterpart between Hakim and Sadr. There is no idiot who does this, as the difference between the two men is too big and cannot be overlooked,” the commander said.
“The proposed project aims to create a kind of social balance. A son of a clergyman vies with another son of a clergyman. It has nothing to do with the creation of symmetrical political or military forces on the ground.”
The idea, he said, was to frame Sadr as a “religious radical figure” in comparison to Hakim.
“The goal is to attract the head of tribes and Hakim has good relations with them and can be exported as a good front to develop and expand these relations.”
Turning to tribes
Iraqi society is not overtly tribal, but tribal customs nonetheless still dominate in areas where law enforcement is weak, especially in the southern provinces.
Even there, tribal sheikhs do not enjoy real influence, bar a few who have enough money and connections to secure people of their tribe jobs and therefore loyalty. This can be seen in Basra, Amarah and a number of border areas where some tribal sheikhs have mutual interests with smugglers and organised crime gangs active there.
Acquiring these tribal sheikhs’ loyalty is a tactic used by colonial powers and leaders seeking influence in Iraq since the state was established in 1921, from US general David Petraeus to former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Most prominently, Soleimani and Muhandis leveraged tribal sheikhs to mobilise tribes against the Islamic State group.
Money and jobs are essential if this tactic is to succeed. They can be used to ensure tribes’ loyalty, or at least stand back from a conflict.
It is notable that Iran has begun to do the same. Iraqi officials, armed faction commanders and observers believe it means Tehran’s large-scale use of intimidation to subjugate local partners has resulted in losses, with the Iranians now preferring to use soft power.
‘The Iranians are trying to rebuild their political and ideological base within the Shia community, which in recent years was undermined by the armed factions’
– Iraqi official
Hakim will not be the only Iranian ally to seek the tribes’ backing. The leaders and commanders of Iran-backed armed factions are expected to do the same soon, using tribal leaders to cement their influence in preparation for another election.
“The Iranians are trying to rebuild their political and ideological base within the Shia community, which in recent years was undermined by the armed factions. So they resorted to this classic tactic to limit these losses,” an Iraqi official specialising in tribal affairs told MEE.
The encounter comes at a time of heightened tensions with the regime.
Earlier this week, the UK imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Iranian officials linked to the brutal crackdown of the protests which erupted following the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, after she was detained for allegedly failing to follow the country’s Islamic dress code.
Meanwhile, the director general of MI5 Ken McCallum has revealed that Iranian intelligence agents have been targeting individuals in the UK who they regard as enemies of the regime.
He said the security service had identified at least 10 such potential threats since January, including “ambitions” to kidnap or even kill.
On 14 November, CIA Director Bill Burns had met with his Russian intelligence counterpart to warn of consequences if Russia were to deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine
The Kremlin on Thursday confirmed that no Russian officials were considering the use of nuclear weapons, according to a report by Reuters. Earlier, US Central Intellegence Agency (CIA) had cautioned Sergei Naryshkin, head of Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service about the consequences had Russia decided on using nuclear weapons.
On Monday, 14 November, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had informed a Russian news agency that CIA Director Bill Burns had indeed met with his Russian intelligence counterpart Sergei Naryshkin to warn the latter of the consequences of using a nuke. The meeting according to reports took place at Turkish capital Ankara.
“He is conveying a message on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, and the risks of escalation to strategic stability … He will also raise the cases of unjustly detained US citizens. He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine,” Reuters quoted the spokesperson said.
The meeting between the spy chiefs came as the U.S. Treasury Department on Monday announced an expanded list of sanctions on 14 people and 28 entities involved in supporting the Russian military-industrial complex. Many of those hit with new sanctions are located outside of Russia, including people and firms based in Switzerland, Taiwan and France.