“You destroy my country, I'll kill you,” Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte warned in a recent exclusive interview with Al Jazeera. His warning was directed at the drug dealers and users that he believes are tearing the Philippines apart. This is the sort of outspoken, uncompromising language we have come to ...

Since becoming President in June, Rodrigo Duterte has used his forceful personality to take Filipino policy in new directions. For Western allies like the U.S., this has led to confusing public statements that have forced them to question the strength of their partnerships. The Cipher Brief spoke with political scientist ...

President Rodrigo Duterte’s first hundred days will be some of the most critical for his vision of radical change. Over that period, Duterte demonstrated strong resolve over his priorities, with a highly publicized peace and order campaign at the top of his agenda. The shift to a federal-parliamentary form of ...

After seventy years of rule, Thailand’s King Bhumibol has passed away. As a public figure with largely ceremonial power, he promoted Thailand’s rural development and provided a source of political stability. The Cipher Brief's Will Edwards spoke with Rafael Frankel, Vice President of Bower Group Asia, to learn more about ...

The Taliban is mounting an increasingly deadly insurgency across Afghanistan, including a breakthrough into Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province, earlier this week.  Regional experts and military officials assert that combatting the Haqqani network, one of the largest factions of the Afghan Taliban, is critical to thwarting ...

The Cipher Brief sat down with Bruce Riedel, Director of the Intelligence Project at the Brookings Institution to discuss the current threat posed by the Haqqani network. According to Riedel, the Haqqani network “is the most deadly and effective part of the forces opposing American and allied troops in Afghanistan” ...

The Haqqani network’s continued presence in Pakistan, as well as recent Taliban advances in Afghanistan, have resulted in a “steady deterioration in U.S.-Pakistan relations over the past year,” explains Daniel Markey, Senior research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), in an interview with The Cipher ...

As U.S.-Russia tensions escalate, the sharply deteriorating bilateral relationship between the former Cold War foes may be at an inflection point. Experts say that in the wake of a flurry of public statements, accusations, and nixed arms control agreements last week, the United States and Russia have hit another low ...

On September 10th in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in northwest China, as many as 10 people were killed or injured when police investigated the house of suspected terrorists. While details are scant, it appears a police officer accidentally set off explosives stored at the house. Chinese authorities ...

Over the last several years, China has learned that its borders and people are not immune to the threat of terrorism. This is particularly true as the low-level separatist insurgency led by Uighurs linked to the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP, formerly known as East Turkestan Independence Movement) against Beijing has ...

On August 14, Director of International Cooperation at China’s Central Military Commission, Rear Admiral Guan Youfei, reached a deal to provide humanitarian aid, military training, and intelligence sharing with the Syrian government. Two weeks later on August 30, there was a suicide bomb attack on the Chinese embassy in Kyrgyzstan.  ...

The latest North Korean nuclear test was the largest to date, yet the international consensus on a response is as fractured and indecisive as ever. In the days following the test, China announced that it opposed the unilateral sanctions pursued by Japan. The United States is in support of sanctions, ...

The fifth North Korean nuclear test has left policy makers scrambling for both short term and long term solutions to a problem that, so far, has no solution. Many experts have called for a return to a multilateral negotiation framework such as the Six Party Talks. The Cipher Brief spoke ...

The United States and its allies in East Asia have had sound reasons for the current approach to dealing with North Korea.  However, it carries with it a danger exemplified by the latest and largest North Korean nuclear test.  North Korea has been rightly dubbed by many experienced diplomats, the ...

Uzbek Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyoyev is now Uzbekistan’s interim president, following the death of long-time leader Islam Karimov, who had been in power since the country’s independence in 1991. Uzbekistan’s parliament voted Mirziyoyev into the position on Thursday, even though under the Uzbek constitution, the Senate chairman should have taken ...

North Korea announced Friday morning that it had successfully conducted its fifth nuclear test at the subterranean Punggye-ri test site. The U.S. geological survey confirmed a 5.3 magnitude earthquake nearby, stating that it was caused by an “explosion.” In an official statement, Pyongyang declared it had tested a "nuclear warhead ...

As the G20 summit in China came to a close, something far more worrisome than Air Force One’s stairway gaff overshadowed the summit. The Philippines announced that eleven Chinese dredging vessels and barges had been observed in the waters off of Scarborough Shoal. This, Manila suggested, is an indication China ...

In Asia, there is now a “whiff of 1914,” a reference by Australian University Professor Hugh White to the lead up to World War One. The South China Sea, as the International Crisis Group has noted, is “the cockpit of geopolitics in East Asia.” Scholar Robert Kaplan even called it ...

On September 2, a suicide bomber struck a court in Pakistan’s northern city of Mardan, killing twelve. On August 8, a suicide bomber dressed in a lawyer’s uniform attacked a hospital in Quetta, Balochistan, killing 74, mostly lawyers who had gathered at the hospital to protest the targeted-killing of a ...

U.S. – China relations have deteriorated appreciably over the past few years.  The prospect for improved relations are bleak, with a strong likelihood that bilateral relations will continue to worsen.  Although there’s no simple answer, it’s apparent that more must be done to restore trust in this important bilateral relationship. ...

Shortly after arriving at the G20 economic summit in Hangzhou China last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would join a long list of U.S. allies who have joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), despite behind-the-scenes warnings from the Obama administration. Today, Japan is the sole ...

When a multilateral bank, based in China, finances an upgrade of slums in 154 cities in Indonesia, do Americans need to be concerned about a new security threat? What if the project is co-financed by the World Bank? And what if China doesn’t even hold veto power in the institution ...

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is China's answer to the multi-trillion dollar infrastructure spending gap in Asia. However, many see the bank as an extension of Chinese geopolitical influence. As leaders from Group of 20 (G20), representing 85 percent of global GDP, met in Hangzhou China last weekend, The ...

The funeral for Islam Karimov, Uzbekistan’s president since the country’s independence in 1991, took place over the weekend. With no apparent successor, The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder talked with Richard Weitz about the threat of a power vacuum leading to instability and what that means for U.S. interests in the ...

Nationalist fervor, a more aggressive military posture, and curbs on free speech in China today are the hallmarks of one man: President Xi Jinping.  He came to power in 2012 with the mandate to pursue a prosperous society and national renewal, and he has made this “Chinese Dream” the end ...

As 2016 draws to a close, The Cipher Brief revisits its feature on the architect of China’s most recent and expansive policies, Xi Jinping. One of the few remaining legacies of Hua Guofeng, the Chinese leader who briefly held power following the death of Mao Zedong and the demise of ...

As officials in Singapore step up their warnings that the island city-state is a top terrorist target, the global business and finance hub has unveiled a raft of new measures to combat threats at home. The arrests earlier this month in Indonesia of a group suspected of plotting a rocket ...

Yesterday, at 5:30am Pyongyang time, North Korea achieved what, as little as two years ago, many experts thought was impossible: it test launched a missile from a submarine that traveled over 500km. This unexpected success is worrisome for several reasons. Aside from the technical leap forward that the test demonstrates, ...

Russia is back in the U.S. political spotlight in a way it hasn’t been since the Cold War. President Vladimir Putin is increasing Russia’s show of force around the globe – fanning the flames of the Syrian civil war as an ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, allegedly hacking the ...

In an electoral season with no shortage of drama, the recent resignation of Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, brought even more scrutiny to Russia’s intense interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Manafort’s past lobbying efforts for pro-Russian elements in Ukraine drew unwanted attention to a Trump campaign already ...

There is no question of the intense level of interest in Moscow in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election campaign.  For the first time in modern history, Russia faces the prospect of a U.S. president who does not come from the established political process in the U.S., and if elected, would ...

It is no secret that the Kremlin is not terribly enthused about the idea of a Hillary Clinton presidency. Russia’s alleged involvement in the computer hacks of the Democratic National Committee made that much clear. A quick look around Russian news sites – most of which are owned and controlled ...

The recent series of coordinated bombings that rocked several of Thailand’s popular tourist spots occurred amid an atmosphere of heightened tension within the country. Years of political unrest, the rise of the military junta, and a roll-back of democratic liberties have complicated the process of discerning who perpetrated the attacks ...

Ten years ago, Thailand was enjoying a prolonged and robust economic and political revival following the Asian Financial Crisis that decimated its economy and gave birth to the 1997 Constitution, a document granting strong civilian control over the government and an important place for civil society in guaranteeing human and ...

Since the coup of 2014, the Thai political situation has greatly deteriorated, particularly the violations of basic human rights. The U.S. government has imposed sanctions against the military regime of General Prayuth Chan-ocha, but they were criticised as being too soft.  To lessen the impacts of Western sanctions, Thailand has ...

The death of the leader of the Islamic State in Afghanistan last month was another damaging blow to the hardline group seeking to usurp authority from the Taliban while facing stepped-up efforts by U.S. and Afghanistan forces to eradicate them.  Hafiz Saeed Khan and other senior commanders and fighters were ...

In an announcement on August 9th, Japan’s Foreign Minister stated that China-Japan relations were “deteriorating” in reaction to the recent incursions by Chinese vessels into waters claimed by Japan. This is but the latest in a string of events - leading some observers to comment that relations between the two ...

In her first press briefing as Japan’s new Defense Minister, Tomomi Inada sidestepped questions over Japan’s actions in the Nanjing massacre during WWII, confirming for some the worst fears of Japan’s neighbors that she will bring a hawkish, conservative view to her new post. This comes at a time when ...

The adversarial relationship between China and Japan reaches back centuries, and the memories of Japan’s imperial past continue to plague a productive and peaceful relationship. Recent events between the two countries continue to stymie what is one of the world’s most valuable economic relationships. The Cipher Brief interviewed former U.S. ...

In the past decade, Sino-Japanese ties have progressively deteriorated over opposing claims to islands in the East China Sea to the point where some analysts have begun to worry about the possibility that China might initiate a conflict with Japan. Other experts have suggested that economic links between the two ...

As Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump enter the final stage of the presidential campaign, China watches their foreign policy statements closely for indications of their future positions on China. Such a keen interest is well-justified, since a new administration will always bring changes to U.S.-China relations. And, as both countries ...

North Korea is once again taking provocative actions, this time launching two ballistic missiles in which one landed for the first time in Japanese controlled waters.    Last month, North Korea fired three short-range missiles into the sea.    The latest series of tests, which violate UN resolutions, come on the heels ...

Most Americans agree that the 2016 presidential election is one of the strangest in their history – and it looks like that feeling extends beyond U.S. borders. Governments worldwide want to know who will be at the helm of the world’s largest economy and military, and they are learning all ...

“Who is Trump?” asks a Chinese official close to the country’s military. “We don’t really know.” China’s leaders are perplexed by the Republican candidate for president, and they look, depending on the moment, angered, fascinated, or terrified. Yet even though Donald Trump incessantly vilifies China, state media comments suggest the ...

Over the last eight years, China perceived weakness and indetermination in Washington. Whether right or wrong, it used this time to aggressively promote China’s regional and global interests, going so far as to brazenly manufacture and then militarize islands in the disputed South China Sea. Ahead of the 2016 U.S. ...

The terrorist attack at Holey Bakery in Dhaka earlier this month deviated in important ways from the previous trend of assassination-style attacks against specific individuals in Bangladesh. The perpetrators targeted a group of random individuals, prolonged the attack to maximize media exposure, and engaged in an attack that provided little ...

Earlier this month, after ISIS claimed responsibility for a brazen and bloody assault on a café in Dhaka, Bangladesh, analysts pointed to the attack as more proof of the group’s geographically expanding reign of terror. ISIS’s increasing profile in Bangladesh is certainly cause for concern. The group has minced no ...

The recent attack at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka, Bangladesh where 20 people were brutally murdered finally brought international attention to a disturbing trend in one of the world’s largest Muslim countries. For decades, Bangladesh has suffered from an increasing trend in violent extremism from several groups, both domestic ...

In the latest dispute between India and Pakistan, Islamabad has taken New Delhi to the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague over a longstanding water treaty. The move does not bode well for bilateral mediation between the two adversarial neighbors, and it underscores the greater difficulty of solving water ...

South Asia’s critical transboundary waterways are facing unprecedented pressures as a result of rapidly increasing populations, high demand for natural resources, and the consequences of climate change. These challenges, combined with ineffective and wasteful governmental management, are intensifying water scarcity conditions and stoking tensions in an already volatile region. The ...