Bottom Line Up Front The recent unrest in Iran is unlikely to bring about political change or extract significant government concessions to popular demands. Despite the protests, the government is unlikely to alter its stance on talks with the Trump administration or retrench any of its regional interventions. The ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Jihadist attacks in the Sahel are increasing in intensity against both military targets and Western economic interests. Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) continues to demonstrate its strong and growing capabilities in the Sahel, especially Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso is now a full-fledged operational area ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following weeks of protests, longtime Bolivian leader Evo Morales fled the country in mid-November and was granted asylum by Mexico’s government, in what some are calling an illegitimate ouster. On November 12, deputy senate leader Jeanine Áñez announced that she would assume the presidency of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Saudi Arabia cultivated ties with Twitter employees and persuaded them to spy on various user accounts and report back to Saudi leadership. The Saudi government seems unable and unwilling to tolerate any criticism, no matter how benign. The Saudis command a legion of virtual bots ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week 15 people were killed and five others wounded in an insurgent attack on a checkpoint in southern Thailand, home to a long-simmering low-intensity conflict. The ethnic Malay Muslim insurgency against the Buddhist Thai majority in the southernmost reaches of the country is among ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since the protests began in October, security forces have killed more than 319 and injured as many as 15,000 civilians. In a tactic common to governments attempting to attenuate the momentum of the protests, the internet and access to social media has been shut down ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In 2019, it is easier than ever for nation-states or wealthy individuals to pay virtual mercenaries to conduct a range of illicit activities including espionage, data theft, and cyber intimidation and harassment. Companies require permits from their respective governments to export surveillance software, but government ...

   Bottom Line Up Front Russia has extended its global disinformation campaign to Africa, where it seeks to promote pro-Russian and anti-Western attitudes through propaganda. After each disinformation campaign, Moscow assesses its efforts and then tweaks tactics accordingly, adapting to new countermeasures as necessary. This campaign was centered in and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran is working with key allies in Iraq and Lebanon to forestall political change in the face of significant protests in both countries. Protesters in Lebanon and Iraq are primarily opposing governmental corruption, but are also angered by Iran’s support for key Shi’a factions in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, Twitter announced it would no longer accept political ads. Meanwhile, Facebook officials have lamented that it would be a bad thing for democracy if social media companies were left to discern fact versus fiction. Even with world-class programmers and sophisticated algorithms, Facebook has ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following the recent death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the so-called Islamic State announced its new leader, Abu Ibrahim al-Hashemi al-Qurayshi. The selection of al-Qurayshi is intended to ensure continuity, signaling that the new leader will carry on the legacy of the caliphate. One of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi continues his crackdown on any dissent, real or imagined. Since anti-corruption demonstrations began in late September, the government has arrested thousands. There are widespread and credible reports of torture and indefinite detention. Meanwhile, the United States is openly supporting its ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Deeply dissatisfied with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposal, disgruntled Unionists in Northern Ireland have gathered to loudly voice their opposition. Paramilitary activity throughout Northern Ireland has been on the rise, calling into question for the first time since the late 1990s, the stability ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 29, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced he and his government would resign, amid massive protests. Although the protests initially cut across sectarian divides, more recently, there have been hints of disunity within the country-wide protest movement. Government officials from both France and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Dozens of protesters were killed in Iraq late last week, as anti-government demonstrations continued throughout the country. Iraqis have demonstrated civic solidarity in the protests, with older people joining younger protesters and a broader cross-section of society putting aside sectarianism and identity politics to join ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, where the two leaders negotiated the contours of a post-American Syria. While Moscow is one of the clear winners of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, there ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In Chile, one of Latin America’s wealthiest nations, anger and resentment over corruption and economic inequality reached a boiling point over the weekend. Protests in Chile continue, with the government declaring a state of emergency and deploying the military into the streets to quell growing ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Facebook recently announced that it identified and disabled Russian and Iranian disinformation campaigns operating on its platform. The proliferation of bots, fake accounts, and malign disinformation campaigns by state and non-state actors alike is expected to increase significantly in the run up to the 2020 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the United States continues its hasty withdrawal from Syria, Russia has consolidated immense leverage in the country. Acting as Assad’s air force, Russia has helped to reverse the regime’s territorial losses, committing war crimes by targeting civilians and hospitals. Given the recent U.S. withdrawal ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Late last week, Lebanon erupted in protests in response to the government’s attempt to impose a tax on the popular messaging app WhatsApp. The protests have focused on a range of topics, including corruption, austerity measures, failing infrastructure, and pervasive economic mismanagement. The protests have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Al-Qaeda maintains a stronger position in the Sahel than Islamic State-affiliated groups. Although Western targets have been struck in recent years, the vast majority of jihadist attacks and resources have been focused on local-level operations in the Sahel. Besides jihadist groups, there are various vigilante, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Beijing is hyper-sensitive to public criticism and does not hesitate to use its economic power for leverage in silencing companies, universities, and governments. In early October, the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets tweeted support for protesters in Hong Kong, leading to an immediate ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The increasing proficiency of Iran’s missile and drone technology is key to Iran’s regional influence and deterrent capability. The September 14 Iranian strike on critical Saudi energy infrastructure demonstrated that Iran’s military technology has been underestimated by U.S. and other Western officials. Iran’s transfers of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While much of the discussion around disinformation focuses on the role of nation-states, violent non-state actors have also developed fairly sophisticated disinformation capabilities. Disinformation can take many forms, including the use of manipulated images and videos, digital engineering attacks, ‘truthing,’ and ‘social proofing.’ In 2017, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front An anti-Semitic attack in Germany resulted in two dead as a white supremacy extremist symbolically chose Yom Kippur as a day to target Jewish worshipers as they attended religious services. In Germany and throughout Europe, individuals and groups have sought to normalize extremist ideologies, seeking ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 9, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into northern Syria using airstrikes, artillery bombardments, and a ground invasion against Kurdish positions. The United States and Turkey have never agreed on Washington’s strategy of fighting the Islamic State by arming the Kurds. The abrupt decision ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On September 20, the Trump administration sought to completely shut Iran out of the international financial system by imposing new sanctions on its Central Bank. The Central Bank sanctions are complicating Iran’s efforts to import food and medicine, producing effects comparable to a blockade of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Sunday evening, the Trump administration released a statement from the White House press secretary that signals a major shift in U.S. policy toward Syria. The decision to pull back and allow a Turkish military incursion means that Washington has betrayed its truest allies in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In late September, protests erupted throughout Egypt in response to the widespread and systemic corruption of the regime of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The go-to strategy for repressive regimes throughout the region—quelling demonstrations through force while offering vague promises to assuage a litany of legitimate grievances—could ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iraq has been convulsed by growing protests this week over corruption, widespread unemployment, and the government’s inability to provide basic services. The government shut down access to the Internet, a tactic favored by repressive governments across the region, as recently witnessed during unrest in Algeria ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Assad regime again demanded the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and Turkish troops from Syria, labeling them ‘occupying forces.’ Meanwhile, the United States and Turkey are finalizing a so-called safe zone along Turkey’s eastern border with Syria, which will introduce ancillary issues. The U.S. continues ...

  Bottom Line Up Front It has been one year since the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed by a team of assassins with ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Despite his denials, the C.I.A. has assessed with medium to high confidence that Saudi ...

  Bottom Line Up Front It is probable that Islamic State core transferred its technological know-how to its West African province (ISWAP) through direct exchanges between fighters in Libya or Nigeria, or through encrypted online communications. Although ISWAP has used drones for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance, the group has so ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As outlined in a new report by The Soufan Center on the nature of transnational white supremacy extremism, the U.S. military has struggled to root out violent white supremacy extremists from its ranks. The F.B.I. recently arrested an American soldier based at Fort Riley in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Britain’s Parliament descended into angry shouting on September 25 as the country remains in turmoil over Brexit. Even for normally boisterous British politics, recent sessions have revealed a deep-seated dysfunction. The U.K.’s highest court had earlier declared the prorogation of Parliament to be unlawful. There ...

  Bottom Line Up Front White supremacy extremism (WSE) is a transnational challenge, with tentacles stretching from Canada to Australia, and the United States to Ukraine; it has evolved at a different pace in different parts of the world. The rapid expanse of social media facilitates radicalization and recruitment within ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At the 2019 United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which kicked off this week, topics including Iran’s attack on Saudi Arabia and global climate change are dominating the headlines. A recent report concluded that without a significant effort to reduce carbon emissions, the next two decades ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On September 20, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled a revised counterterrorism strategy which focuses as much on domestic hate groups as it does foreign jihadist terrorist groups. In the United States, more attacks have been committed by those motivated by racism, anti-Semitism, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Exceedingly rare and courageous protests erupted throughout Egyptian cities this past weekend, with demonstrations against corruption. Corruption allegations claim that Sisi has misappropriated public funds for private use, building presidential palaces, high-end properties, and even a tomb for his deceased mother, while ordinary Egyptians struggle ...

  Bottom Line Up Front S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, labeling the recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure as an 'act of war.' Though Saudi leaders have suggested Iranian involvement, they have stopped short of more definitive statements, leaving many in the region ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Over the past decade, there has been a proliferation of terrorist propaganda on the Internet aimed at attracting potential recruits while striking fear in terrorists’ adversaries. The aftermath of the Christchurch attack demonstrates how democracies have struggled with the implications—legal, moral, social—of removing and banning ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The September 14 strike on Saudi critical energy infrastructure by Iran or one of its allies directly challenges U.S. regional and global interests. The attack demonstrates Iran’s ability to cause severe damage through precision strikes. The incident illustrates that U.S. sanctions are not succeeding in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Drones have become a trusted tool in the arsenal of non-state actors seeking to engage in asymmetric attacks against a more powerful adversary. Besides Hezbollah, a range of terrorist groups deploy drones in their operations, including the so-called Islamic State, Palestinian Hamas, Boko Haram in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Over the weekend, Houthi rebels launched a drone attack against Saudi Arabia, targeting the Saudi Aramco crude stabilization facility in Abqaiq and an oil field at Hijra Khurais with ten drones. Despite Saudi Arabia spending untold sums on missile defense, Houthi-operated drones have been able ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is using all available tools to try to prevent Iran from exporting oil. The administration is leveraging terrorism-related laws and programs against Iran, even though such tools were not designed to apply to foreign governments and their economies. The basis of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Eighteen years after the al-Qaeda terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the group has evolved and looks much different today than it did nearly two decades ago. The influence of al-Qaeda core and its senior leadership hiding in Pakistan has been reduced, while franchise groups ...

  Bottom Line Up Front One of the most significant challenges facing countries seeking to prosecute foreign fighters is the difficulty of obtaining evidence of crimes committed on the battlefield. By creating a common database for all 28 members to work with, the EU has taken a meaningful step to ...

  Bottom Line Up Front To date, despite years of reported war crimes by nearly all sides involved in the Yemen conflict, there has been a complete lack of accountability and no consequences for collateral damage or rampant human rights violations. The Saudi-led coalition is unraveling, and for the past ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On the heels of its suspension from the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program, Turkey is now reportedly considering joint development of its own fighter jet with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the suspension as an opportunity for Russia to capitalize on Turkey’s rift with ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Upcoming Russian-Iranian naval drills put Moscow clearly on the side of Tehran in the crisis unfolding between the United States and Iran. The Trump administration’s policy of 'maximum pressure’ will continue to drive Iran closer to U.S. adversaries and critics, particularly Russia. The emerging Iranian-Russian ...