Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.  Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire ...

As the world focuses on the Singapore summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the President’s Treasury Secretary announced sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for their ties to Russian cyber activities, prompting some to question the Administration’s mixed signals on Russia over ...

The Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is putting the IAEA on notice that Tehran is likely to begin producing centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium.    According to the Fars news agency, Ali Akbar Salehi says the move does not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ...

Bottom Line:   Pakistani citizens are heading to the polls next month in a public display of democracy and choice. Yet, with Pakistan’s military continuing to play a leading role in the country’s political affairs, it seems that the upcoming elections will once again amount to a stamp on an otherwise ...

Bottom Line: Moscow’s increasingly assertive military activity in Eastern Europe and the Middle East seeks to project the power of a resurgent Russia in relation to a retreating United States, while concealing its economic and political fragility at home. In doing so, the Kremlin walks a fine line between escalation ...

Despite indications that China’s economy is likely to experience a moderate slowdown, the world’s second largest economy – and largest market by headcount – continues to expand the depth of its interactions with the world. From the One Belt, One Road project to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Asian ...

Weeks after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, the Trump Administration ratcheted up pressure on Iran by imposing harsh sanctions on key Iranian figures who have helped facilitate the Islamic Republic’s continuous array of malign activity in the Middle East. But questions linger around whether this financial-based approach will actually ...

President Donald Trump has informed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he will not be attending the summit between the two leaders set to take place in Singapore on June 12, following a series of aggressive statements made by both parties. It is not yet clear whether the cancellation ...

It has now been 18 months since the November 2016 presidential election, during which the U.S. intelligence community believes Russia acted not only to interfere with U.S. elections, but with clear preference for one of the candidates. However, Washington and many of America’s leaders are still not on the same ...

After North Korea threatened to withdraw from the upcoming face-to-face summit between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, some media outlets reported that Trump was becoming concerned about the political risks if the talks were to fall through—and considering not going ahead with them. Many experts believe North Korea’s ...

Six years ago this month, almost to the day, Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly accompanied then- Border Chief Michael J. Fisher to the U.S. Border with Mexico, seeking a better understanding of the complex geography and tactics required to patrol each section of the often treacherous divide.  Back ...

North Korea has threatened to pull out of planned talks between leaders Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, citing opposition to U.S. demands for unilateral denuclearization and comments made by national security advisor John Bolton that referenced the “Libyan model” for denuclearization. President Trump has clarified that the U.S. ...

Since the United States declared the opening of its new embassy in Jerusalem, violence has broken out along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where thousands of protesters have gathered for months for what they have dubbed “The Great March of Return” [to Israel]. Earlier this week, Israeli ...

Months of fruitful engagement between North Korea, South Korea and the United States may soon turn sour. Yesterday, Pyongyang warned that ongoing joint military exercises and aggressive statements made by the Trump administration were damaging the diplomatic atmosphere. The regime canceled upcoming talks scheduled with South Korea, and threatened to ...

Observers counting potential Senate votes for the nominee to become the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency say Gina Haspel’s prospects look pretty good.  The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning, May 16, to vote on recommending her nomination to the full Senate.  ...

As the United States relocated its embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri used the occasion to call for jihad, claiming the international system is hostile toward Muslims. Al-Qaida has rebounded in recent years, rebranding its message and building local branches across the Middle East ...

Over the weekend, ISIS claimed responsibility for two deadly attacks: in Paris, France, a Chechnyan-born man stabbed five people and released a video pledging allegiance to the group; in Indonesia, suicide bombers detonated explosives at three churches in Surabaya, the second largest city in the country. Though the terror group continues ...

The word ‘resignation’ is being used here in London - not, for once, about the actual or potential departure of yet another of our ministers, but to describe Britain’s reaction to the US decision to pull out of the Iran deal. Many people on this side of the Atlantic, right ...

The White House is correct in pointing out the weaknesses of the JCPOA, some of which have even been candidly acknowledged by former U.S. officials who worked on the agreement.  Yet, the question is not whether the agreement is perfect - but whether the alternatives would better serve the interests ...

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted the move and insisted that Iran would continue to negotiate with the other signatories.  The U.K., France and Germany expressed disappointment in President Trump’s decision and ...

It’s finally Gina Haspel’s turn to be heard after weeks of back and forth between supporters and critics of her nomination as the next Director of Central Intelligence Agency. As she faces lawmakers and the country hears directly from her for the first time, dozens of her current and former ...

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran—including both JCPOA-related sanctions as well as additional economic sanctions.  In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country would abide by the tenants of the ...

The U.S. Special Operations Command has about 67,000 troops and an annual budget of around 14 billion dollars.  That may not seem to be a huge dent in the overall DoD budget (about 2%), but it greatly outnumbers the special operations budgets of other U.S. allies around the world.  With ...

In a provocative new essay, Vladislav Surkov, a top aide to President Vladimir Putin, says Russia is ending a centuries-long quest to join the West and preparing for "100 years (200? 300?) of geopolitical solitude." If Russia goes this way it will be because of unwise policies, not a Western cold shoulder. In One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel ...

Running a media platform is a rough business these days.  Especially for a small start-up, determined to keep a solid focus on the incredibly important topic of national security and determined to keep the quality of that focus high. As an industry-wide exodus of advertising revenue continues to put smaller, independent, high-quality ...

As the senate prepares for what is expected to be a close vote this week on the nomination of Gina Haspel to become the next Director of CIA, both supporters and critics are ramping up the rhetoric.  While those who would like to see Haspel confirmed are organizing a show ...

With increasingly confusing statements and actions from the White House and the Pentagon on U.S. policy toward Syria, The Cipher Brief presented a live briefing from Amman, Jordan with Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Chief of Middle East operations, Robert Richer during the 2018 Threat Conference.  Richer talked about ...

As Iran and Israel trade accusations over Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. sends indicators that it may pull out of the JCPOA agreement, The Cipher Brief talked with Norm Roule—the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI and a Cipher Brief Expert —at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat ...

President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his belief that the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and if it is not amended to cure those flaws, the United States should abandon it. On January 12th of this year, he informed the American public that his administration is working with “key European ...

Financial sanctions imposed on Russia since its 2014 seizure of Crimea have hit President Vladimir Putin and his cronies where it hurts most—in the wallet. The most recent actions will freeze the U.S.-based assets of certain top Russian officials, arms dealers, and oligarchs in Putin’s orbit, as well as banning ...

With the last few years of progress in artificial intelligence, it is hard to look forward without excitement…and apprehension. If you are paying attention at all, you are wondering what lies ahead. Will it be great? Will it be disastrous for many? Surely because we are inventing it, we have ...

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington featured both the first state dinner of the Trump presidency as well as an address to Congress. Macron arrived with a clearly stated mission: to convince President Donald Trump of the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and U.S. multilateral engagement in the ...

Bottom Line: Syria’s chemical weapons program not only contributes to a tragic humanitarian situation, but its uninhibited use and maintenance creates strategic implications for the West and Israel. Limited military response seeking to degrade Syria’s stockpiles and logistical facilities sends a message, but Assad has shown his intent to continue ...

There’s a dark purpose in Kim Jong Un’s proffered moratorium on nuclear and ballistic missile testing announced over the weekend. Kim, with the apparent complicity of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, seeks to eventually merge his state into the South  – and drive out U.S. troops from the peninsula. Most ...

On Saturday, North Korea announced it was suspending nuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, ahead of this week’s summit with South Korea and ahead of a planned summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June. Cipher Brief expert Amb. Joseph DeTrani, former envoy to the Six Party Talks, gave his ...

The CIA is defending its deputy director Gina Haspel – Trump administration nominee to lead the agency – against charges that she erred when she wrote a cable to CIA employees, instructing them to destroy tapes of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used on post-9/11 detainees. The CIA on Friday ...

Bottom Line: The Kremlin employs various often overlapping and competitive security and intelligence services to create multiple sources of intelligence, encourage risk-taking and keep a wary eye on each other. This has enabled Russian President Vladimir Putin to consolidate power by playing agencies off of each other to avoid uninvited ...

The American strikes last week on Syrian chemical production, storage and delivery facilities amounted to no more than another pinprick and a slap on Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s wrist and were devoid of any long-term strategy. It was a “one-shot” strike to punish the "Butcher of Damascus" for a one-time heinous act, which the regime ...

The nomination hearing of Gina Haspel to lead the agency is shaping up to be a bruising interrogation over Haspel’s role in the destruction of evidence regarding the CIA’s now-defunct enhanced interrogation techniques program. Haspel, currently deputy director of CIA, has been widely praised by former officers, but her role ...

Bottom Line: The U.S. teamed with Kurdish forces to oust ISIS from its self-declared caliphate in Syria in Iraq, but now Washington’s continued support for Kurdish militias in Syria has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey, which remains immersed in a longstanding feud with its sizable, domestic Kurdish minority. ...

After days threatening to take action, President Donald Trump announced Friday evening that he'd ordered "precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities," of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Trump said U.S. forces acted together with France and the U.K.,  retaliating for a suspected poison gas attack that killed ...

Bottom Line: While much attention is rightfully given to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal, the country’s naval and merchant fleets are the ones that have traditionally extended the reach of Pyongyang to bypass sanctions through illicit trade on the high seas while also ...

Bottom Line: U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to rain missiles on forces loyal to Syrian Bashar al-Assad, one week after they allegedly conducted a chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria's rebel-held town of Douma, near the capital Damascus. While a potential strike may signal to Assad that the ...

On the final day of the Cipher Brief Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., three CIA veterans of the post-9/11 terrorism fight discussed the current ebb in the fortunes of ISIS and al-Qaida with Cipher Brief Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier — and warned they’d likely come back. Alex Bolling, Former ...

The White House said President Donald Trump’s Homeland Security Advisor, Thomas Bossert, will be resigning his post Tuesday.   White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that the president was “grateful for Tom’s commitment to the safety and security of our great country.” Bossert spoke at ...

Cipher Brief experts Matt Olsen and Nick Fishwick tackled the state of the U.S. alliance with the “5 Eyes” – the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – in discussion with Executive Editor Kimberly Dozier at Sea Island. Their overall conclusion? Despite the Trump administration’s early controversial comments about ...

The second day of this year’s annual Threat Conference was filled with prescient discussions of intelligence, foreign threats and preparing for the future—by current members of government from NSA, DARPA and IARPA discussing and sometimes debating issues with former intelligence officials and trailblazers in private industry. Below are some of ...

More than 50 former senior U.S. government officials sent a letter to the Senate intelligence committee Monday to support Trump nominee Gina Haspel to lead CIA. The Cipher Brief has obtained a copy of the letter, which was endorsed by eight former CIA directors or acting directors, three former directors ...

Cipher Brief experts debated the risk versus blowback of striking North Korea before it has a chance to strike the continental United States, at The Cipher Brief’s 2018 annual Threat Conference, in Sea Island, Ga. Admiral (ret.) James “Sandy” Winnefeld, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during ...

“The world has been more dangerous, but it has never been more complicated.” These were the words Michael Hayden, former director of both CIA and NSA, used to launch the 2018 Threat Report at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday. Hayden first prefaced the ...