The dispute between Qatar and its four regional counterparts – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – has entered into its fourth month with no end in sight. After severing ties with Qatar, the four Arab countries imposed a blockade on the small Gulf nation and provided ...

The ongoing dispute between Qatar and its neighbors – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – has thrown the U.S. into a difficult situation. U.S. President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his support for Saudi Arabia’s policies, but at the same time has continued to work with Qatar, ...

Well into its fourth month, the tense standoff between Qatar and the four Arab nations that severed diplomatic ties with Doha – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – shows no signs of resolution, as both sides remain reluctant to earnestly negotiate or offer any concessions. ...

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 ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 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 ...

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 ...

Russians are fond of saying “men’she znayesh, dol’she zhivyosh,” translated as, “the less you know the longer you live.” President Vladimir Putin’s formative experience serving as a KGB officer and Director of the FSB explains why the Kremlin seeks to impose cyber sovereignty within its own borders while deploying more ...

Imagine a multi-pronged, low intensity conflict. It’s been dragging on for five or so years. Sometimes this faction gains ground. Sometimes that. Or maybe it’s a third or fourth group. And then imagine a truce between two of the conflict’s numerous groups. Progress, you think. A first step toward ultimately ...

Political instability continues to plague Libya as the country is mired in its sixth year of conflict following the 2011 Arab Spring. In July, two of Libya’s most prominent leaders, representing competing factions, Fayez Sarraj, the head of Libya’s UN-brokered Government of National Accord (GNA) and Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wants to eliminate dozens of special envoy positions at the State Department. Some would be removed altogether, like the special envoy for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, reflecting President Donald Trump’s rejection of the Obama Administration’s failed attempt to shut the prison. ...

The whirlwind Middle East trip last week by Trump son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner and his team working to restart Israel-Palestinian talks highlighted the fallout from earlier policy missteps related to the Middle East. Take the still bubbling situation with Qatar. After almost three months, Qatar still faces an ...

President Donald Trump has made it clear that he thinks the international accord to reign in Iran’s nuclear program was the “worst deal ever.”  And he has twice reluctantly certified that Iran is in compliance.  But The Guardian is now reporting that the White House is pressuring intelligence officials to ...

One of the key responsibilities of the Intelligence Community is to provide the president with the other guy’s perspective.  How does he/she see the world and the issues?  What is the person’s mindset, where does it come from, and can it be changed?  It is difficult, if not impossible, to ...

The United States is cutting back on issuing non-immigrant visas to Russians.  The U.S. Embassy in Moscow will temporarily stop issuing the visas next week, and consular offices will stop issuing them indefinitely, the State Department announced on Monday. After September 1, visa issuances would be performed "on a greatly ...

The United States and its allies need to focus first on freezing North Korea’s current nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs with a goal of deterring Kim Jong-un from expanding his stockpile and nuclear delivery systems. Denuclearization of North Korea can remain the long-term goal, but the U.S. military knows ...

If there has been one common refrain from the Trump administration, it is that President Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea was not effective in deterring Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. But President Donald Trump and his advisers appear to have replaced strategic patience with an ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson capped off a whirlwind weekend at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial meeting in Manilla, Philippines by suggesting the United States would be open to dialogue if North Korea stopped its provocative actions. “The best signal that North Korea could give us that ...

  Son Sen was the Khmer Rouge’s Heinrich Himmler, in charge of carrying out Cambodia’s own holocaust that killed up to two million in the 1970s. As U.S. representative at UN-led negotiations, I observed Son Sen closely over a year’s time across a negotiating table during deliberations of the Supreme ...

My first meeting with the North Korean delegation to the Six Party Talks in 2003 was instructive.  Their lead negotiator, First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan, said the U.S. should accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and like Pakistan, North Korea would be a good friend of the ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says “neither the President or I are very happy” with a new Congressional bill sanctioning Russia, but he expects President Trump will sign it, even though it will make “our life more difficult.” In a surprise appearance at Tuesday’s State Department briefing, Tillerson discussed a ...

As if there were not enough world problems already facing the United States, President Donald Trump is now talking about declaring Iran “non-compliant” with the July 2015 nuclear agreement that the Tehran regime signed with the P5+1 – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany. By U.S. law, ...

In retaliation for the wave of new sanctions the United States Congress passed, Moscow has ordered the U.S. cut 755 diplomatic staff by September. The demand will likely end up hitting local Russian staff particularly hard, given they vastly outnumber the American embassy and consulate personnel in Russia. President Donald ...

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords last month was widely denounced as a blow to global climate change cooperation. However, it has also been used by some observers to mark a turning point in President Trump’s vision of American global leadership. The Cipher Brief’s ...

When President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement this June, it confirmed the administration’s intent to pull back on international efforts to combat global climate change. The Cipher Brief’s Fritz Lodge spoke with the Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience at the Wilson Center, Roger-Mark ...

President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement this June was met with immediate outcry from both domestic opponents of the president and international partners. Business leaders like Elon Musk of SpaceX and Bob Iger of Disney quit White House advisory councils in protest, ...

The recent tensions between India and China have entered their sixth week. What began as a dispute over the location of a Chinese road building project along a contested border in Bhutan has drawn Asia’s two strongest powers deeper into a decades-long issue over sovereign territory and regional influence. China ...

After six weeks, tensions remain high in the Dolam Plateau (within the Doklam area), a contested border area nestled between India, China, and Bhutan. China’s road building project on a disputed portion of its border with Bhutan presents a strategic threat, according to India. Such a road would allow Chinese ...

After six weeks of tension between China and India over a Chinese road building project on contested territory, neither side is prepared to back down. Known as the Doklam Plateau, this small area high up in the Himalayas where Bhutan, India, and China share a vaguely defined border, is now ...

President Donald Trump has nominated Jon Huntsman for U.S. ambassador to Russia as his administration comes under ever-increasing scrutiny over its ties to Russia. If confirmed, Huntsman will face a difficult landscape trying to balance the president’s desire to improve relations with the Kremlin’s machinations in Ukraine, Syria, elections in ...

The main loss from the departure of Chris Painter, America’s top cyber diplomat, will not be the loss of one of the top U.S. civil servants in the field, with 26 years in government. Nor will the biggest hit be to U.S. airlines, whose business models have increasingly been depending ...

Leaders of the world’s 20 most powerful economies met for the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week to discuss a wide range of multilateral issues, including international trade, climate change, and international security. This was also a chance for U.S. President Donald Trump to meet face to ...

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for the first time last Thursday to discuss trade, stationing U.S. troops in South Korea, and most importantly, finding a common approach to halting and dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. Then, just days later, on July 4th, North Korea successfully ...

Every recent U.S. administration (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) has confronted the problem of North Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. While claiming their predecessors failed, successive administrations have shared the same objective: completely roll back the DPRK’s development of a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and prevent proliferation of a nuclear weapon ...

On Friday, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, and a number of allied Arab states provided Qatar with a list of 13 steep demands that Doha must meet within 10 days in order to have ruinous sanctions lifted against the tiny Gulf state. Some of these demands include shutting down ...

High level United States-China talks concluded Wednesday with the U.S. pressing China “to exert much greater economic and diplomatic pressure” on North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program, Washington’s top security threat. Looming large on the eve of the first U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue was a CNN report ...

In a recent interview with reporters in Beijing, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton noted that the Chinese were finally exerting greater pressure on North Korea. China’s “shift in emphasis,” in her words, entails stepped-up inspections and policing at the border as well ...

On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army in Washington for the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. ...

Upon coming into office, the Trump Administration quickly came to the correct conclusion that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea was really “strategic neglect.”  Secretary of State Tillerson in Seoul March 17 stated it succinctly: “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ...

President Donald Trump today announced a rollback to the Obama-era opening to Cuba in a speech at the Manuel Artime Theater in Miami’s Little Havana. “Effective immediately I am canceling the previous administration's one-sided deal with Cuba,” he said. The Obama-era deal opened diplomatic relations between the two Cold War ...

As we approach the two-year anniversary of the signing of the landmark nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 world powers—the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany—The Cipher Brief sat down with network expert General Jack Keane to discuss the likelihood that the deal holds, what could transpire if ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was on Capitol Hill Tuesday, defending deep cuts to the proposed 2018 State Department budget and explaining how the department is handling expected job losses and slashes to foreign aid. Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations committee the Department’s proposed budget of $37.6 billion, a ...

Rather than take a hard look at past failures and where to go from here, Middle East “experts” are using the Six-Day War’s 50th anniversary to regurgitate old talking points, cast blame on predictably ideological lines and propose meaningless paths back to the negotiating table. In reality, there will be ...

"We're getting out," announced President Donald Trump on Thursday, as he explained why the United States was withdrawing from the Paris climate accord. Signatories to the 2015 landmark agreement pledged to flight climate change by reducing greenhouse gases and help poorer countries do the same. But Trump said the U.S. ...

“The United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord,” President Donald Trump announced Thursday afternoon, keeping a promise he made on the campaign trail. The U.S. will renegotiate the deal or work on creating an entirely new deal on “terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, ...