At 8:40PM EDT last Thursday, as the two were wrapping up a ceremonial dinner with their families, President Donald Trump informed President Xi Jinping that the United States was concluding a cruise missile strike against a Syrian airfield involved in a chemical weapons attack against rebels earlier in the week. ...

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. While the two agree on the need to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and China, there are several agenda items that are likely to become contentious, not least of which is North Korea. Trump ...

Since June 25, 1950, when North Korea, with Soviet and Chinese backing, invaded the South, in an effort to reunify the country, North Korea has been on the offensive. Ever since, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan have been playing defense in a failed attempt to get North Korea to ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Representative Will Hurd, R-Tex., about what more the U.S. can do to improve security and the economy in Afghanistan. Hurd believes that an improved Afghan Air Force and more Afghan Special Forces “would really put the Taliban on the run.” As well, Hurd says, the ...

It is fashionable in Washington to deride, or even condemn, every move President Donald Trump makes that is a departure from past, staid U.S. foreign policy.  Secretary of State Tillerson's terse public statement on Wednesday's North Korean KN-14 missile test into the Sea of Japan was the latest example of ...

Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that ISIS’ leader in Afghanistan, Sheikh Abdul Hasib, was killed in an April 27 joint-operation carried out by Afghan and U.S. Special Forces. The raid, which took place in the Achin District in Afghanistan’s Eastern Nangarhar Province – the same location where the U.S ...

In an exclusive interview with The Cipher Brief, Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan Ambassador to the U.S., emphasized the progress that the Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, and the Afghan National Security Forces, have made in stabilizing the country and to improve Afghanistan’s economy.  Mohib believes the key to ...

Vladimir Putin is portrayed in the West as the master manipulator in foreign policy, creating turmoil in U.S. and European elections and outfoxing his rivals in the Ukraine and Syria. In domestic politics, he is portrayed as a brutal but cunning tyrant, crushing dissent and murdering his harshest critics, yet ...

An explosion in the St. Petersburg metro on Monday tore open a subway car, killing at least 14 people and leaving dozens injured. Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has called it a terrorist act, and the perpetrator has been identified as Kyrgyzstan native Akbarzhon Dzhalilov. His motive remains unknown. Despite ...

On Sunday, March 26, widespread protests broke out in more than 80 cities in the Russian Federation, apparently in response to the government's inability or unwillingness to deal with the problem of endemic corruption. Estimates of the numbers of protesters vary, with the opposition claiming that more than 30,000 participated ...

The Kyrgyz state security service identified Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, a 22-year-old Russian citizen born in Kyrgyzstan, as the assailant behind Monday’s explosion in the St. Petersburg metro. Russian investigators later confirmed the identification and said Dzhalilov planted a second bomb at the Ploshchad Vosstaniya station that did not explode. Authorities said ...

Monday’s explosion in a St. Petersburg metro car, which killed at least 14 people and left dozens injured, was described by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as an act of terror. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself said it is “too ...

China continues to deploy military equipment to contested islands in the South China Sea, raising concerns among regional players and U.S. forces stationed in the Pacific.    A Chinese government strategy document published last month by China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua signals that Beijing is building up its military cyber ...

In September 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama reached an agreement that neither nation would “conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.” Many astute observers ...

China is a burgeoning great power. It is continually figuring out the various dimensions of power – not least of which is power in cyberspace – and putting them to use. Like other great powers dealing in an unknown medium, it is, to quote Deng Xiaoping, crossing the river by ...

Since negotiations concluded for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in late 2015, observers have argued that Asian policymakers would interpret failure of the pact as a sign of America’s declining interest in the region or inability to assert leadership. Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned in 2015, “Failing to get ...

Two decades of an expanding defense budget coupled with a multi-dimensional modernization effort have enabled China to field one of the world’s most capable militaries. While it should come as no surprise that a modernizing power with a global economy invests significantly in its national defense, curiosity and suspicion are ...

Academic and policy analysts generally agree that Pakistan’s army and directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, exert a controlling influence over most of Pakistan’s core state policies. This entrenched, unelected, and opaque “deep state” is complemented by a near-permanent “establishment” comprised of a relatively small cadre of politicians, senior bureaucrats, ...

The countries of the Pacific Alliance – a small Latin American trade bloc – will hold a summit next week in Vina del Mar, Chile. All eyes will be on another meeting, though, held on the sidelines of this summit. That meeting will bring together the remaining 11 members of ...

Just three days after his inauguration, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that confirmed his intent to abandon American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Barring an about-face from Washington, the TPP as negotiated may now be dead. However, the deal includes 11 other Asia-Pacific economies, including Japan and Canada, ...

President Donald Trump confirmed his intention to abandon American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership after signing an executive order on the subject in January. However, this does not necessarily mean that TPP is dead. The United States was the most important partner in the agreement but the deal includes 11 ...

Despite UN resolutions and international opposition, North Korea test-launched four intermediate range ballistic missiles on Monday that reached within 200 miles of Japan. The test demonstrates not only Pyongyang’s disregard for more sanctions, but also its progress in missile technology. Besides North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran have also devoted ...

As an economic power and pivotal regional player in Asia, India is home to the second-highest number of internet users of any country in the world. Its role in establishing norms in cyberspace, as well as how it approaches securing networks, could have a lasting impact on the security and ...

As connectivity increases, India is beginning to put in motion efforts to secure its government and private networks. Like other countries, India is experiencing the an abundance of cybercrime, hacktivism, and cyber espionage. The Cipher Brief spoke with Cherian Samuel, Research Fellow in the Strategic Technologies Centre at the Institute ...

Security researchers and policymakers around the world are struggling with the challenge of securing the digital networks that governments, private companies, and people in general depend on every day. While the most common points of reference to engagements in cyberspace are in the United States, Europe, Russia, and China, other ...

Japan is a nation in flux. Economically, the government is struggling to stoke growth with expansionary monetary policy and reform; demographically, it is challenged by a rapidly aging population; and strategically, the pacifist island nation is rebuilding its military in the face of perhaps the most complex regional security environment ...

During the 2016 U.S. presidential contest, Donald Trump was highly critical of the structure and costs of the U.S.-Japan mutual defense relationship and openly raised the possibility of a Japanese nuclear deterrent. His remarks caused substantial confusion, concern, and consternation within Japan and among U.S. supporters of the U.S.–Japan alliance, which has more typically been ...

The last couple of weeks have seen almost daily terrorist attacks across Pakistan from a variety of bad actors:  February 13:  A suicide bombing during a protest rally in Lahore. February 14:  Two police officers were killed trying to defuse a terrorist bomb near a bus stop in Quetta.  February ...

In 2011, former President Barack Obama and then-Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard signed a deal to base 2,500 U.S. Marines in Darwin, Australia in an effort to expand the United States’ sustained regional presence as part of the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia. However, issues over cost sharing and logistics ...

The new administration must surely be thinking about the challenges of Afghanistan and Pakistan and what to do.  The region has bedeviled outsiders for generations.  Afghanistan perplexed Alexander the Great, got the best of the British, beat up on the Soviet Union, and now it’s befuddled U.S. Presidents Barack Obama ...

North Korea’s missile test on Sunday reaffirmed the case for greater missile defense in South Korea, but it did nothing to change China’s perspective on the matter. Beijing believes that any U.S. missile defense in South Korea would undermine its strategic nuclear deterrent, and therefore its national security. The U.S. ...

North Korea’s latest test on Sunday of a nuclear capable Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile displayed its inexorable advance in acquiring missile technology.  The test disrupted a dinner between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and has earned North Korea further rebuke not only from the United ...

The United States relies on missile defense systems to protect its allies and its troops stationed all around the world. Yet in some instances, the deployment of such systems is a strain on regional stability. The Cipher Brief spoke to Philip Coyle, a senior science fellow at the Center for ...

North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile this weekend, marking Pyongyang’s first provocation since President Donald Trump took office. The test coincided with Trump hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Palm Beach estate and club Mar-a-Lago. The pair turned their dinner into an open-air strategy session, and then ...

On Thursday February 9th, President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping had their first phone call. Accounts from both sides described the call as productive and cordial. Most importantly for the future of the bilateral relationship, Trump affirmed U.S. recognition of the “One-China Policy,” reversing an uneasy start to ...

The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan wants several thousand more troops from the U.S. and its allies to help break the “stalemate” in the 15 year-old war, which he told members of Congress has lately seen increased Russian involvement to bolster the Taliban and undermine the U.S. and NATO. “In ...

Southeast Asia is emerging as an ISIS battlefield, and security threats in the region will accelerate and grow with the group’s global expansion – with an ISIS-centric threat landscape supplanting an al Qaeda-centric one. ISIS and al Qaeda groups, networks, and cells will threaten governments and societies in 2017, but ...

October’s attacks on the Border Guard Police bases by the insurgent group Harakah al-Yaqin (HaY) in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and their aftermath have raised concerns over whether the Rohingya crisis in that country, formerly known as Burma, might present an opportunity for expansion of international jihadism. The persecution of the ...

The struggle of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims is a regular topic of discussion on jihadist online message boards, frequently cited as the ultimate case of persecution against Muslims. For jihadists, it meets the standard of other constant grievances they frequently refer to, such as issues concerning jihadi prisoners, drone strikes, or ...

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has largely disappeared from the news since its military junta was replaced by a relatively reformist government after 2015 elections, and the country opened to the outside following an Obama administration push. Although no longer the pariah it was in past years, longstanding persecution of ...

When President Dwight Eisenhower left office, he told his successor, John F. Kennedy, that Laos was one of the United States’ most important foreign policy issues. As America tried to contain the spread of communism, Laos became the battlefield for the Operation Momentum, the CIA’s largest covert operation. The Cipher ...

One of the most daunting foreign policy tasks facing the Trump Administration is determining America’s path forward in Afghanistan. From the time he launched his campaign until assuming the Oval Office two weeks ago, U.S. President Donald Trump has shied away from outlining a vision for Afghanistan, which begs the ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, to discuss how the U.S. reconstruction effort should proceed in Afghanistan. According to Sopko, “Oversight has been a problem since day one in Afghanistan,” and “agencies should provide effective and honest oversight as the first line ...

The Afghanistan and Pakistan region is home to 20 UN and U.S. designated terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and the Haqqani network. This is a higher concentration than any other region of the world, and it is why preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven from which these groups can ...

President Donald Trump and his cabinet are now responsible for U.S. policy on one of Asia’s most contentious regions: The South China Sea. While China’s intentions to militarize the islands it claims have grown clearer—recent satellite imagery shows emplacements for anti-aircraft weaponry on the Spratly Islands— U.S. policy after the ...

Few security challenges are as vexing as the South China Sea. With multiple claimants and murky claims, the contours of the conflict can be difficult to grasp. In recent years, China has used ambiguity, asymmetry, and incrementalism to assert control over parts of the South China Sea. Meanwhile, the Obama ...

Since China undertook a massive artificial island building program in 2013 with the intention of militarizing the islands, the U.S. has grown increasingly worried about freedom of navigation through this economically important waterway. The Cipher Brief spoke to Admiral Jonathan Greenert, former Chief of Naval Operations, to understand how the ...

Like many other governments, China is seeking to reestablish its sovereignty over the digital sphere with a new Cybersecurity Law. But while the law could help address China's national security issues, critics argue the law gives the government free reign to conduct surveillance and systematically censor political dissent, while also ...

On Monday, Jan. 23, President Donald Trump used his first full weekday in office to sign an executive order pulling the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact. The TPP was signed by all 12 parties – representing almost 40 percent of the global economy – last ...

From South Korea’s point of view, the year of 2016 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years since the armistice of the Korean War was signed in 1953. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests on January 6 and September 9 respectively, and it continued ...