Bottom Line Up Front:  The success of Russia’s meddling in 2016 U.S. election ensures that Moscow will employ similar disinformation efforts as 2020 approaches. Indicating the severity of the threat, DNI Dan Coats recently announced the creation of the federal government's first 'election threats executive.' Both governments and private ...

OPINION -- I want to talk about an African election. It was 2009 in Botswana and the ruling party, in power since independence, was not shy about using the power of incumbency to ensure it remained in place. It splashed out pre-election largesse to supporters. Its presidential candidate used military aircraft ...

Russia. We hear and read about it every day in the mainstream media, but the news seems almost exclusively focused on the various investigations of Russian meddling and the politics surrounding them. Russian meddling, to be sure, merits this coverage since the cyberattacks and spread of polarizing disinformation represented a ...

Cipher Brief Note:  Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr assured Iraqis this past weekend that the next Iraqi government will be ‘inclusive’.  Al-Sadr, who once fought U.S. troops after the invation of Iraq, held meetings with Prime Minister Haider al-Adabi on Saturday and Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of a coalition backed by ...

In the latter part of the 18th century, not too long after an earlier annexation of Crimea by Russia, a Russian governor by the name of Grigory Potemkin hoped to impress Russian empress Catherine II by building fake villages along the banks of the Dnieper River. As Catherine’s vessel floated ...

Bottom Line: On paper, Iraq’s democratic electoral system promises rare, fair representation in a region where politics is dominated by monarchies and authoritarian regimes. But in reality, the country’s political system has been hamstrung by inefficiencies and gridlocks that have often segregated, rather than united, the Iraqi populace. As Iraqis ...

The revelation that Donald Trump Jr. was in contact with WikiLeaks throughout the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign is just the latest in a long catalog of leaks and discoveries about previously hidden contacts between surrogates of both the Trump campaign and Russia. A media frenzy naturally follows each new disclosure, ...

As the Kremlin wages an unyielding disinformation campaign against the United States and its European allies, Washington is still reeling from Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election and only just beginning efforts aimed at tackling this major national security threat. Almost a year after election day, there are some signs ...

There is no “quick and easy fix” for the United States to deal with Russian disinformation and influence operations. Steve Hall, a former senior CIA officer who retired in 2015 and spent much of his career overseeing intelligence operations in the countries of the former Soviet Union and the former ...

The question of alleged Kremlin collusion with the Trump campaign is “still open,” the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Wednesday. The investigation is ongoing, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) told reporters in an update of the Senate panel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “The committee continues ...

Today, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq is holding a historic referendum on Kurdish independence. Kurds are widely expected to overwhelmingly vote Yes, a result that threatens once again to undermine the fragile Iraqi state – split between Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regions – and is causing consternation throughout ...

Just a few days away from the German federal election, a widely held opinion is that Germany has been spared from interference by Moscow. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the main advocate of the current EU sanctions on Russia, is widely expected to remain in power come September 25th. Moreover, hypothetically ...

There can be no doubt that over the past ten years, Russia has honed its active measures operations – or covert action in U.S. intelligence parlance – into strategic tools to be taken seriously. A great deal of time and effort has been focused on the specific methodologies used by ...

In less than a week, on September 24th, the German public will vote in the country’s general elections – not only to determine who will sit in the country’s parliament, known as the Bundestag, but also who will become – or remain – Chancellor. As the economic and political European ...

Russia has shown it is both willing and capable of using cyber capabilities to interfere in the West's democratic elections. With the German elections coming up on September 24th, it is likely Russia will again – much like the United States and France – seek to sow confusion and distrust ...

U.S. – Angola relations have never been easy. Even after the end of the Cold War mindset, the Angolan regime’s memory of U.S. support to the armed opposition, and some lack of interest from Washington, ended up frustrating more recent attempts to establish a “strategic partnership dialogue” under then Secretary ...

The House may take up legislation as early as today to require the Trump Administration to produce a public report on foreign threats to federal elections, as well as two other reports related to Russian meddling in U.S. and Western elections. The language is contained in intelligence authorization legislation for ...

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 06: The early morning sun strikes the U.S. Capitol November 6, 2006 in Washington, DC. Midterm elections take place November 7, potentially changing the balance of power in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) The House Monday failed to pass under expedited procedures legislation to ...

Russia has increased its meddling in European countries outside the former Soviet bloc recently. Moscow’s support for populist parties – including France’s National Front, Italy’s Five Star Movement, and Britain’s UK Independence Party – has shown tangible results. During the French presidential election this year, for example, centrist candidate – ...

Russia interfered in France’s recent presidential elections, supporting far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and is likely to meddle in Germany’s upcoming federal elections in September. Beyond these countries, there is speculation that Russia has close ties with the far-right UK Independence Party (UKIP) and also maintains ties with some of ...

Twenty-one state election systems were targeted by Russian hackers during last year’s presidential election, a Department of Homeland Security official told the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday. While Russian attempts to infiltrate state voting systems have been widely reported, this appears to be the first acknowledgment of the scope of the ...

French President Emmanuel Macron clinched a parliamentary majority on Sunday, when his en Marche party won more than 300 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly, giving the pro-EU, centrist president a strong mandate to pursue his vision for the country. What Macron’s defense and security policies will look ...

There is no adjective to which I have a greater aversion than “unprecedented.” Such language is most often intended to describe challenges more daunting than anyone has previously faced or circumstances not akin to anything seen in the past.  In truth, there are very few challenges that cannot benefit from ...

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party surprisingly lost a dozen seats in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, in snap elections on Thursday. This calls into question Brexit negotiations and the UK’s future defense and security relationship with the European Union, as well as its internal ...

On the surface, the Iranian election was an impressive display of hope trumping cynicism. Over 70 percent of the population turned out with more than half saying yes to President Hasan Rouhani’s moderate policies and giving a strong rebuke to hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the preferred candidate of Iranian Supreme Leader ...

The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with Suzanne Maloney, Deputy Director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, to discuss how the results from last Friday’s Iranian presidential election could impact Iranian domestic and foreign policy moving forward. The Cipher Brief: Leading up to the Iranian presidential ...

Hassan Rouhani’s decisive victory in the Iranian presidential elections held last week reveals that after 38 years, Iranians are still struggling to re­solve the conflicts and contradictions unleashed by the original Islamic Revolution of 1979. That movement, which united millions under the banner of making Iranians, at long last, masters ...

Iranian voters sent a strong message to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, decisively electing incumbent President Hassan Rouhani to a second term in office. The presidential election shaped up to be a two-man race between Rouhani, considered a “moderate” by many observers, and hardline rival Ebrahim Raisi, who has served ...

Friday’s presidential election in Iran marks a pivotal moment for the Islamic Republic. Although ultimate power in the country remains in the hands of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the results will indicate the direction of Iranian foreign and domestic policy, as well as how Tehran plans to engage with ...

After months of uncertainty following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, South Korea has a new president. Moon Jae-in, a human rights lawyer and former chief of staff in the Roh Moo-hyun administration, has promised to pursue economic and political reform and restore prosperity and trust in government. Moon faces ...

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s presidential election on Tuesday. Moon’s decisive win, with approximately 40 percent of the vote and a 14 percent lead over the next closest candidate, signifies the South Korean electorate’s desire for change after 10 years of conservative rule and a political corruption controversy ...

French voters head to the polls Sunday to choose their next president: centrist Emmanuel Macron or far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. On the campaign trail, Le Pen has advocated closer relations with Russia and said she wants to pull France out of both the European Union and NATO. ...

French voters have a choice of two worlds May 7 between the internationalist, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron and the isolationist, far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. The election could signal drastic changes to French defense and foreign policy or it could mean more of the same. Le Pen ...

Centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron won the French presidency Sunday in a landslide victory over far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen – capturing 66.1 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 33.9.  President Donald Trump tweeted, “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win... I look very much forward to working ...

The two remaining candidates in the French presidential race, independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen, offer voters stark, opposing choices for the future of their country, as well as its security and defense. Macron, who ran on a pro-Europe platform, topped Sunday’s first round vote, followed ...

French citizens head to the voting stations Sunday to narrow the field of candidates for the nation’s next president. The top two winners in the first round of voting will go head-to-head in a second round of voting on May 7, if neither wins more than half the votes, which ...

Round one of the French presidential elections, on April 23, looks as if it’s going to set up a battle of non-traditional parties. Polls predict Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate who recently created his own party, versus Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right National Front party. Now, some ...

As the French presidential election gets underway, the candidates positions toward the EU, Washington, and Moscow vary significantly. Depending on who comes out on top, relations with these different power centers could change. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Charles Kupchan, former special assistant to the president and senior ...

France’s upcoming presidential election is perhaps the most important in the nearly 60-year history of the Fifth Republic. The election’s first round on Sunday comes at a time of an increasingly divided France, stemming from years of corrupt politicians, economic malaise, high unemployment, and terror. France has been in a ...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the firebrand former Iranian president, stunned observers last week by submitting his name as a candidate in his country’s presidential elections next month, over the objections of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Ahmadinejad, who served as president from 2005 to 2013, is a hardliner, notorious for questioning the ...

With just a few weeks left until French voters head to the polls, far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen made her way to Moscow for a surprise meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.   As Putin stood last Friday beside his open admirer — Le Pen supports lifting Russian sanctions, ...

As the House Intelligence Committee gathers on Monday to hold its first public hearing into Russian interference in the 2016 election, experts say this marks an important opportunity to begin explaining the complexities of the Kremlin’s actions to the American people — as long as it doesn’t devolve into partisan ...

The controversy surrounding alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election shows no sign of waning, dominating the conversation during The Cipher Brief’s Georgetown Salon Series event with former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Wednesday night. “I think that the Russian interference in the election is a much bigger ...

Yahya Jammeh – who ruled The Gambia for more than 22 years – is stepping down and leaving the country the internationally recognized new President Adama Barrow said Friday. Barrow tweeted, “I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh agreed to relinquish power and leave the country.” This comes ...

The Gambia’s Supreme Court was supposed to hold a hearing on a petition to annul the December presidential election, brought by the country’s current President Yahya Jammeh, who lost the election. Chief Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle says that hearing is now postponed until May. Meanwhile, President Jammeh’s term technically ends the ...

After more than two decades in power, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh lost the December election to his opponent, Adama Barrow. However, Jammeh now says he does not accept the election results. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) approved a “standby force” to be deployed to The Gambia, with ...

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a cyber and influence campaign aimed at interfering in the United States election and boosting President-elect Donald Trump’s chances, according to a declassified U.S. intelligence agencies’ report on Russian hacking and efforts to meddle in the 2016 election. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith ...

A comparison with the 1848 domino-like revolutions that spread across Europe is a bit of a stretch, but far-right populism is definitely on a roll, throwing the whole European project in doubt. Will it continue is the big question in 2017.  A victory by French far-right leader Marine Le Pen ...

All week, The Cipher Brief has been covering the news that Russia not only interfered in the U.S. presidential election, but according to CIA analysts, apparently did so with the intent of influencing the outcome in support of Donald Trump. The Cipher Brief wanted to know what U.S. allies, with ...

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. ...