At a time when U.S.-Russia relations are at an extreme low, Tuesday’s nomination hearing for the new U.S. Ambassador to Russia attracted less than a full house in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The nominee, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, told the Senators this is a “critical period” in U.S.-Russia ...

President Donald Trump used his debut address at the United Nations General Assembly to threaten that the United States would have “no choice but to totally destroy” North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies and to criticize the Iran nuclear deal as an “embarrassment” to the U.S. ...

The Trump Administration continues to pound away at North Korea, insisting military options are on the table, but so far the threats have not stopped Pyongyang from pursuing tests of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. "The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to ...

When a new U.S. president takes office the January after an election, his or her administration takes over not only the world’s strongest and most powerful military, but also a robust and complex foreign policy bureaucracy. From the moment of inauguration, the work done by the incoming president’s transition team ...

North Korea is testing its nuclear program seemingly at will. Afghanistan and Iraq struggle with enormous security threats years after the U.S. intervened to help them.  Russian aggression and Chinese expansionism challenge the West.  Terror and cyber attacks are on the rise.  The national security challenges facing the United States ...

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man."  It was true for Heraclitus of Ephesus in ancient times, and it is equally true for Iranian leaders nowadays. When Tehran considers its strategy vis-à-vis the nuclear ...

A new presidential administration needs a team of political and career appointees to run the government, including the world’s most powerful military and a vast diplomatic and national security team. So far, President Donald Trump has nominated 347 individuals, but only 140 have been confirmed. At the same point in ...

The future of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is likely to take center stage at this week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) gathering in New York – and to feature prominently in U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech before the UN on Tuesday. ...

This morning’s detonation of an improvised explosive device onboard the London Tube has once again pushed the issue of online terrorist recruitment to the forefront of public debate. With manuals on how to build homemade explosives and radicalization sermons and videos readily available online, preventing individuals from gaining access to ...

In an incident the British government has called a terrorist attack, a bomb detonated at Parsons Green tube station Friday morning. 29 people were injured; ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group’s Amaq news agency released a statement saying “the bombing of the IED in the London ...

A bomb exploded on a London subway train Friday morning injuring at least 29 people, most of them suffering flash burns from the blast, none life-threatening. London authorities are calling the bombing at Parson Green Tube station a terrorist attack, the latest in a wave to hit the United Kingdom ...

Michael Morell, former acting and deputy director of the CIA, resigned Thursday from his teaching position at Harvard University in protest of the school’s naming of Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army soldier convicted of leaking classified information, as a Visiting Fellow. “I cannot be a part of an organization - ...

On Friday, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government withdrew its invitation to Chelsea Manning to serve as Visiting Fellow. Below is a copy of the statement released by Douglas W. Elmendorf, Dean of the Kennedy School. On Wednesday, the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School announced that Chelsea Manning ...

On Thursday, former acting director of the CIA and Cipher Brief expert Michael Morell announced his resignation as a non-resident Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International affairs. Below is a copy of the letter from Morell announcing his departure. Douglas W. Elmendorf Dean, John F. ...

President Trump's proposed budget looks to slash almost $26 billion from diplomacy and foreign aid programs next year. Those in favor of such a move argue that U.S. foreign aid and economic development spending is an inefficient and wasteful use of taxpayer money. However, in June, 16 retired generals and ...

In June, 16 retired generals and admirals testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that international economic development assistance "is not charity - it is an essential, modern tool of U.S. national security." This assertion is backed up by a number of studies, which closely link the economic development of ...

Prospects for the world’s most vulnerable people and fragile countries appear more and more bleak, according to humanitarian aid groups, as sources of international aid become less reliable. In a report released this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation painted an uncharacteristically pessimistic picture of the trajectory of global ...

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a binding directive compelling all federal civilian departments and agencies to identify and develop a plan to end any use of and remove any Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab products from their computer systems. “The Department is concerned about the ties between certain ...

As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis concludes a nuclear-focused trip, his public backing this week of all three parts of the triad likely serves as an important sign for the forthcoming Pentagon review of United States nuclear weapons policy. In April, the Department of Defense launched a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) ...

One of Russia’s largest military exercises begins today – and it’s targeted toward the West. Zapad, which literally means “West” in Russian, is a recurrent exercise held in Russia’s western and central districts. The last one was in 2013, just a year before Russia invaded Crimea. This year’s exercise could ...

Earlier this year,  The Cipher Brief examined the deteriorating security situation across North Africa, contending that al Qaeda’s regional offshoot, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), was poised to wreak havoc and generate further instability throughout the Sahel. Over the past nine months, this appears to have been the ...

Although the United States counterterrorism campaign is focused on key battlegrounds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, the threat posed by al Qaeda in North Africa remains a concern for U.S. intelligence officials. The U.S. has partnered with France to combat extremist groups in the North African region, with ...

Developments in the Sahel are cause for real alarm. Insecurity in northern and central Mali, the epicenter of much of the region’s al Qaeda-related violence, continues to grow, while Islamist violence has spread from there and from northern Nigeria to Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. Just last month, gunmen ...

Zapad 2017, the week-long joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise beginning September 14, has raised concerns in the West over its size and intent. Some say there will be more than 100,000 troops participating. Belarus has said only 12,700 will be involved – just under the 13,000 limit, at which point a ...

Defense and military experts from around the world have been anxiously watching the preparation phase for the mid-September Zapad 17 exercise in Belarus, the Baltic Sea, western Russia, and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, essentially a war rehearsal. Russia is expected to mobilize nearly 100,000 troops and showcase some newly ...

Beginning Thursday, as many as 100,000 Russian and Belarusian troops will launch major military exercises along the border of three NATO countries. Russia’s upcoming Zapad military exercise, which will simulate a response to an attempted overthrow of the Belarusian government by an insurgency unfriendly to Russia, has European countries and ...

A critical diplomatic post took a major step towards being filled when the nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan appeared at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday. John Bass, the current U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, faced questions from Senators about the future of Afghanistan, less ...

The United States is stepping up calls for China and Russia to comply with new United Nations sanctions on North Korea, a move that experts say would make these measures meaningful and have a significant economic impact on Pyongyang. The United Nations Security Council on Monday night unanimously passed measures ...

Hezbollah – an Iran-backed militia that controls southern Lebanon – boasts a medium-sized army and a whopping arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets and missiles. Since 2011, much of that army has been engaged in Syria supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. While this has thinned Hezbollah’s ...

At least 18 Egyptian policemen were killed Monday in an ISIS attack on a security convoy in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Over the last few years, ISIS’ Sinai affiliate has conducted frequent attacks against Egyptian military and security forces deployed in the Sinai and has also struck in Cairo, carrying out ...

Since the September 11 attacks, the U.S. has used leadership decapitation – the targeting and killing of terrorist leaders – as a pillar of its counterterrorism strategy. Through combat operations, special operations forces raids, and drone strikes, the U.S. has successfully removed al Qaeda and ISIS commanders from battlefields across ...

Since 9/11, eliminating terrorist leaders through a strategy known as leadership decapitation has emerged as key pillar of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. Although the U.S. has successfully removed numerous terrorists from the battlefield, leadership decapitation does not necessarily equate to the destruction of a terrorist organization, especially groups with ...

The removal of top terrorist leaders from the battlefield continues to be a critical element of the United States’ counterterrorism strategy. In the years since 9/11, the U.S has managed to keep pressure on several key terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda and ISIS, by targeting their senior leadership and ...

Tensions with North Korea are escalating. Pyongyang’s nuclear test on September 3 followed the firing of an intermediate-range missile that flew over Japan, the Trump administration sending stealth F-35 fighters and nuclear-capable B-1 bombers for exercises over South Korea, and South Korea’s defense minister asking whether the U.S. should deploy ...

The West has been hit by a barrage of deadly terrorist attacks over the past two years with little indication there is any definitive way to stop the onslaught. Why this is happening and what can be done about it was the topic of conversation between national security and counterterrorism ...

The administration of President Donald Trump has focused very little on the promotion of U.S. values – particularly international human rights – in its first nine months. At times the president and his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, have appeared to belittle the use of human rights in foreign policy ...

In remarks to his staff at the State Department this May, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to announce a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy. While lauding the fundamental American values of “freedom, human dignity, and the way people are treated,” Tillerson went on to say that “those ...

After watching the horror of Hurricane Irma slice a bloody path through the Caribbean, millions in Florida and the southeast are headed for higher ground or out of the path of the storm. And that includes those serving at military bases in Florida. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Special Operations Command ...

Most casual students of U.S. history and foreign policy consider the beginning of the Carter Administration (1977) as the point at which concern for human rights became a factor in American foreign policy decision-making. Often overlooked is the fact that the U.S. led efforts to draft the UN’s Universal Declaration ...

President Donald Trump and the Emir of Kuwait – one of two Gulf countries that has not cut ties with Qatar – said in a joint news conference at the White House on Thursday that the boycott of Qatar by its Arab neighbors will soon be resolved. Trump even announced ...

Top intelligence officials called this week for Congress to reauthorize a provision that allows the Intelligence Community to target communications of non-U.S. persons overseas that can also incidentally — and controversially — sweep up information related to U.S. citizens. Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which sunsets ...

Two top congressional Democrats said Facebook’s announcement it had discovered a Russian-funded campaign promoting divisive social and political messages demands a “very serious look” and likely is just “the tip of the iceberg.” Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Mark Warner on Thursday called for the United States to broadly reassess ...

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the Texas coast, dumping over four feet of rain in some areas, displacing over 30,000 individuals, and causing over $50 billion in damages. The response at all levels of goverment has been significant. As always, local police and fire departments were the first on the scene. ...

Despite its role as a critical partner for the U.S. in the global fight against terror, Egypt has struggled to quash an extremist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, which has had devastating effects on the country’s security apparatus and economic health. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has pledged to continue ...

As a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, Egypt has played an integral role in helping to combat the region’s terrorist threat, particularly since Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi came to power in June 2014. However, Egypt is facing a daunting terrorist challenge of its own, primarily in the ...

Last November, Egypt’s Central Bank announced it was taking steps to allow the pound to trade freely on the currency market. The move to float was widely regarded as a necessary, but incredibly difficult one. The Central Bank had held the pound at around eight to the dollar; today it ...

A major humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Myanmar, as tens of thousands of people, the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, flee the threat of ethnic cleansing carried out by the country’s government. Rohingya civilians have been the target of village burnings, mass executions, disappearances and rape, according to the United Nations, ...

Kenya will hold another presidential election after the country’s high court on Friday nullified the results of a contentious early August poll. That election brought longtime Kenya president Uhuru Kenyatta back to power, but the high court said the election board “failed, neglected or refused to conduct the presidential election ...

As part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic agreed to suspend activities related to its development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, or so it seemed. In the year and a half that has passed since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into ...

Earlier this summer, the Trump administration chalked up a number of supposed achievements in its ongoing efforts to contain Iran’s ballistic missile program. U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law additional sanctions, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley coaxed the British, French, and German UN representatives into ...