Rising violence in the Central African Republic is stoking fears of a return to intense fighting between Christian and Muslim armed groups not seen since the height of violence in 2013 – a conflict that could prove fertile ground for the so-called Islamic State and Boko Haram. “We’ve heard that ...

Violence is increasing in the Central African Republic, along with reports of potential terrorist connections to the country, making the central African nation a U.S. national security interest. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder asked Christopher Lamora, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, if claims ...

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been held together under two separate entities ever since the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 ended the civil war and created the present-day country: The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, made up of Bosniaks and Croats, and Republika Srpska, home to the country’s Serbs. But the ...

On Saturday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrests of dozens of ministers and other members of Riyadh’s elite, as part of a broader effort to ostensibly crackdown on corruption. Veteran Saudi/Mideast intelligence officer and Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule offered a more positive take than other network ...

As ISIS’s hold of its capital of Raqqa disintegrates, and the rubble of a razed Aleppo settles, a trend is beginning to emerge – war is becoming increasingly urbanized. Conflict follows humanity wherever it goes, and the world’s population is increasingly living in cities. Waning are the days of the ...

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro are in a tit-for-tat of name-calling. Trump, in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York earlier this month, called Maduro a socialist dictator and said, “This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a ...

In June, 16 retired generals and admirals testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that international economic development assistance "is not charity - it is an essential, modern tool of U.S. national security." This assertion is backed up by a number of studies, which closely link the economic development of ...

Prospects for the world’s most vulnerable people and fragile countries appear more and more bleak, according to humanitarian aid groups, as sources of international aid become less reliable. In a report released this week, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation painted an uncharacteristically pessimistic picture of the trajectory of global ...

Hunger and political instability go hand in hand. Fighting and droughts across Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and parts of Nigeria have caused dire situations and have driven up food prices, placing over 20 million people under increased risk of food insecurity. Terrorist groups and criminals prey on such situations, exacerbating ...

This century will be defined by two trends: how we manage climate change and how we manage the rise of megacities. Over the next 20 years, the global urban population will grow from 3.5 to 5 billion people. The strain on resources and the environmental stresses that accompany the growth ...

The United States is confronted with security challenges on a daily basis, from unending terrorist attacks to adversaries positioning themselves on the geopolitical and global economic stages. But behind the curtain of all of these problems resides a potentially devastating, long-term issue that demands attention: global food insecurity as both ...

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, ...

More than six years after the Arab Spring reverberated across the Middle East and North Africa, the Libyan people still face a seemingly insurmountable challenge of piecing their fractured country back together. Warring militias and an expanding terrorist threat have wreaked havoc on the country. Libya’s two most prominent leaders ...

Brazil is increasingly becoming a less stable country and has been ranked one of the most worsened countries over the past year by the 2017 Fragile States Index report from the Fund for Peace. The FSI measures a nation’s vulnerabilities based on a series of stability indicators. The Cipher Brief’s ...

The stability of Colombia has improved significantly over the past year, according to the Fund for Peace’s 2017 Fragile States Index, which measures 12 social, political, and economic indicators to determine a country’s vulnerability. Colombia’s progress is due largely to the peace agreement the government reached with the armed FARC ...

Challenges facing those who work in the developing world are complex, profound, varied, and sometimes existential. They range from assuring the health and security of our staff in settings where reliable healthcare and security are scarce, to forecasting many months into the future where to deploy resources that can make ...

Mexico was ranked the most-worsened country this year on the Fund for Peace's Fragile States Index (FSI), tying with Ethiopia for the bottom spot. Although Mexico has long faced violence, corruption, and organized crime, these problems all worsened during the past year, countering a decade-long trend of increasing stability there. ...

Mexico’s stability affects the U.S., and U.S. policy has an effect on its southern neighbor’s stability. The recent Fund for Peace Fragile States Index showed Mexico worsened in terms of stability during the past year. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with the former chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, ...

As the Trump Administration debates sets its policy for the way forward in Afghanistan, it will also need to consider the role of Pakistan in helping to provide security in the region. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel spoke with Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry, to discuss current ...

As Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos, the Organization of American States (OAS) has failed for a second time in just one month to reach a resolution that would condemn the current Venezuelan regime led by President Nicolas Maduro.  At least 73 people have died in anti-government demonstrations since ...

If you take Defense Secretary James Mattis at his word, the United States in coming years will be doing nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, once the ISIS and Taliban forces are defeated. That was the repeated message Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford gave last week to House ...

Long the example of stability on the African continent, South Africa emerged in the 1990s, after decades of apartheid, as an up-and-coming democracy ruled by the African National Congress (ANC), then headed by Nelson Mandela. It was listed as one of the BRICS rising economies – along with Brazil, Russia, ...

With alleged corruption permeating the South African government and protests spreading across the country for President Jacob Zuma to go, some outside observers view the once up-and-coming African nation as on the road to downfall. The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with the University of Johannesburg political scientist Steven Friedman, ...

The new Fund for Peace 2017 Fragile States Index (FSI) shows South Africa as increasingly unstable, ranking third in stability for Africa, behind Botswana and Ghana, and one of the most-worsened countries in the past decade. Retired Ambassador Herman Cohen, who served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs ...

The Fund For Peace’s 2017 Fragile States Index paints an alarming, but justified, picture of Turkey: it is declining dramatically in most areas measured by the index. Turkey saw drops in security, fractionalized elites, group grievances, human rights, and refugees and internally displaced persons. Only the last, refugees and IDPs, ...

A populist wave is washing over the United States and Europe, which have seen populist leaders take the helm – U.S. President Donald Trump – or come exceedingly close to power. Geert Wilders’ Dutch populist Party for Freedom is strong, French National Front leader Marine Le Pen went face to ...

What is the definition of populism? What are the common threads that tie together populist movements? Does populism work? The Cipher Brief’s Kaitlin Lavinder spoke with Carmen Medina, a former CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence, about how she defines and evaluates populism, and how, in some ways, it’s related to ...

The upsurge of populism in the United States and Europe has us asking the wrong questions. The issue that should concern us is not what populists have in common. The similarities between Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen or Nigel Farage are unimportant. We also should stop wondering why voters ...

BANGUI, Central African Republic – Since May 8, fighting in the southeastern city of Bangassou, the southern town of Alindao and the central mining town of Bria has left more than 300 people dead, 200 injured and 70,000 displaced, according to the U.N. The spreading violence “is highly worrying and ...

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a trip to Djibouti in April in a show of friendship with the small East African country, at a time when other nations are also bolstering relations with Djibouti. China, for example, is building its first overseas military base there, just a few ...

After the stunning collapse of the Iranian regime in 1979, country risk analysts everywhere became desirous of some method to better calculate the risk of political instability in countries across the world. For many, the holy grail became some type of quantitative index that would rank countries based on their ...

The Fragile States Index is a remarkable and welcome document in this era of instant national security analysis, delivered in 24/7 soundbites. With the Index, you actually have real data – data that has been carefully gathered for a broad cross section of the world, and that you can access ...

When it comes to the world’s most fragile states, two of the wealthiest and most-developed countries, the United States and the United Kingdom, would not normally top the list. But by certain key metrics, they do: both significantly worsened in the category of “group grievance” – the indicator that measures feelings ...

What is the most stable country in the world? Which is the most fragile? What determines those qualities? In 2017, South Sudan was ranked the most fragile country by The Fund for Peace, an organization that publishes the Fragile States Index (FSI) every year. Finland was judged the most stable. Measured on ...

What most distinguishes human civilization in the 21st Century and during the emerging era of globalization is its ever intensifying complexity. Gone are the terrestrial frontiers and the disconnected solitude that comes with exploration of remote spaces; gone are the dumping grounds for our indiscretions. Everyone is connected and the ...