EAD Weekly News Summary (13-19/02/2023)
A Devastating Earthquake in Türkiye and Syria: Affecting Tens of Thousands of People
On February 6th, residents of Türkiye and Syria were awoken from their beds by one of the strongest earthquakes in a century, sending tremors as far away as Lebanon and Israel. Throughout the day, a series of aftershocks reverberated. According to the USGS, the largest quake, a major quake measuring 7.5 magnitude, struck Türkiye approximately nine hours after the initial quake. About 95 kilometers (59 miles) north of the initial shock, that aftershock struck.
According to Yunus Sezer, the head of Türkiye’s disaster services, at least 2,921 people were killed and more than 15,800 others were injured in Türkiye. At least 1,451 people have passed away in Syria, which is nearby. 711 people have died in government-controlled areas, mostly in Aleppo, Hama, Latakia, and Tartus, as reported by the Syrian state news agency SANA. Casualties and damage are on the rise, the majority affecting neighboring Syrian women and children who are mostly relying on humanitarian assistance before the onslaught of the earthquake and battling a harsh winter marked by heavy snowfall and rain. Hence, as world leaders awoke Monday morning to learn of the devastating earthquake, they began receiving messages of support and condolence.
Aid Pours Into Earthquake-Stricken Türkiye and Syria as the Race to Find Survivors Continues
On February 7th, an outpour of aid and search teams were dispatched into Türkiye and Syria as rescuers worked in subzero temperatures and sometimes with their bare hands to sift through the rubble of collapsed buildings caused by a powerful earthquake. The death toll exceeded 6,200, and it was still anticipated that it would rise.
The extent of the suffering and the subsequent rescue effort were stupendous, as the search efforts were risky due to unstable piles of concrete and metal, and the freezing temperatures made them even more urgent as concerns grew about how long trapped survivors could survive in the cold. But because the damage was spread out over a large area, the huge relief effort often had a hard time getting into the devastated towns. Social media was used by many to ask for help for loved ones who were believed to be trapped under the rubble.
Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan subsequently declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces. Hence, the director-general of the World Health Organization posted a tweet announcing that the organization’s network of emergency medical teams in the two countries has been activated to assist earthquake victims. In his televised address, Türkiye’s President Erdogan also stated that NATO, the European Union, and dozens of other nations had offered assistance. In addition, Türkiye attempted to accelerate the effort by allowing only aid vehicles into the worst-hit provinces of Kahramanmaras, Adiyaman, and Hatay as promises of assistance poured in, including a $100 million pledge from the United Arab Emirates. In Addition, to help start the humanitarian response in Türkiye and Syria, the United Nations released $25 million from its emergency fund and stated that it was “exploring all avenues” to get supplies to rebel-held northwestern Syria. According to Doctors Without Borders’ head of mission in Syria, Sebastien Gay, health facilities were overcrowded, and medical personnel were working around the clock to assist the wounded.
(Source: PBS News Hour)
Making a Plea for the “Wings of Freedom” Marks President Zelensky’s Surprise UK Visit
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, paid a surprise visit to the UK on February 8th. He arrived in London as part of a surprise diplomatic tour of European capitals. As such, Zelensky later went to Buckingham Palace to meet with King Charles III, who told him: “I can’t tell you how long we’ve all been worried about you and thinking about your country.”
Subsequently, Zelensky made a speech to the joint houses of the British parliament, which was only his second trip outside of the United States since the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly a year ago. In the speech, he skillfully addressed parliament and the nation, while making a direct plea for more heavy weaponry, including fighter jets. Additionally, the Ukrainian President also met with British troops training Ukrainian troops. He told a press conference that his top priority on the battlefield is for Ukraine to get more weapons. Zelensky gave the House of Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, the helmet of a Ukrainian fighter pilot, signed with the message: “We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it.”
The Alleged Chinese “Spy Balloon” Appears to be Designed for Intelligence Surveillance — US State Department Source
According to new information provided by a person who spoke on the condition of anonymity for the US Department of State, stated that the alleged Chinese “spy” balloon which had traveled across the continental United States before being shot down by US forces over the Atlantic Ocean, was capable of conducting signals intelligence collection operations.
Beijing’s claim that the balloon had deviated from its course and entered US airspace because it was being used for meteorological research, was also refuted once more by Washington. Claiming that the balloon had a number of antennas, one of which was probably capable of collecting and locating communications by location. Additionally having solar panels that were big enough to give it enough power to run multiple active intelligence collection sensors.
China has since criticized and condemned the balloon being shot down, claiming that it was an “unmanned civilian airship.”
(Source: Al Jazeera)
North Korea Shows Off their Nuclear Attack Capability At A Huge Nighttime Parade
The most significant demonstration yet of what North Korea’s state-run media referred to as Pyongyang’s “nuclear attack capability” took place on Wednesday night, February 8th at a military parade. Nearly a dozen sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) were on display. The missiles were shown off through the Kim Il Sung square in Pyongyang as Kim Jong Un, his wife, and a young girl who is believed to be his daughter watched.
Kim called for an “exponential increase” in the nuclear arsenal of North Korea in response to what he claims are threats from South Korea and the United States less than two months prior to the much-anticipated event that marked the army’s founding anniversary. Analysts claimed that the Hwasong-17 missile was demonstrated on the night time parade. In Addition, analysts said that besides the show of the Hwasong-17, North Korea displayed a mockup of a new solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that, if operational, would provide Pyongyang with a nuclear missile that is more mobile and harder to detect. The unprecedented display seems to indicate that the North Korean Leader is keeping his promise to equip the nation with a nuclear arsenal that could pose a threat to the United States.
Al Jazeera. (2023, February 9). Chinese balloon was ‘clearly for Intelligence Surveillance’: US. Politics News | Al Jazeera. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/2/9/chinese-balloon-was-clearly-for-intelligence-surveillance-us
Guzel, M., Alsayed, G., & Fraser, S. (2023, February 7). Earthquake aid pours into Turkey and Syria in race to find survivors. PBS. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/earthquake-aid-pours-into-turkey-and-syria-in-race-to-find-survivors
Lendon, B. (2023, February 9). North Korea showcases nuclear attack capability in largest ever ICBM parade. CNN. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/08/asia/north-korea-nighttime-military-parade-intl-hnk/index.html
Mogul, R., Tuysuz, G., Sariyuce, I., Damanhoury, K. E., & Picheta, R. (2023, February 7). More than 4,300 dead in Turkey and Syria after powerful Quake. CNN. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/05/europe/earthquake-hits-turkey-intl-hnk/index.html
Tanno, S., Krever, M., Gigova, R., Kesaieva, Y., & Kent, L. (2023, February 8). Zelensky makes ‘Wings for freedom’ plea in surprise UK visit to push case for fighter jets. CNN. Retrieved February 10, 2023, from https://www.cnn.com/2023/02/08/europe/zelensky-visit-uk-intl-gbr/index.html