Cipher Brief Expert Robert Eatinger is former Deputy General Counsel and Acting General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency and retired Captain from the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corp with a combined 30 years of active duty and reserve service. EXPERT OPINION -- China seeks to challenge US technological supremacy ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The nine year-long Syrian civil war continues to rage, with most of the intense fighting taking place in northwestern Syria in Idlib Province. Hay’at Tahri al-Sham, one of the most powerful rebel groups still fighting in Syria, released video footage yesterday of what it claims ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) is now seen by France and Sahelian countries as the greatest security threat in West Africa. Reports about a drawdown of U.S. troops in West Africa and ISGS’s growing strength have led France and some countries in the region, ...

OPINION -- Should we all sleep easier because at last we have a low-yield nuclear warhead sitting atop a Trident D-5 sub-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) aboard a strategic ballistic missile submarine now on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean?  Not really. Last Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood ...

Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as a Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist, including 5 years at the U.S. Embassy Moscow, with the U.S. Dept. of State from 2002-2016.  He is currently Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry-Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX.  OPINION — In 2000, Xi Jinping, a relatively ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, France agreed to send war frigates to the eastern Mediterranean, a decision welcomed by Greece and decried by Turkey. The potential for an energy bonanza in the eastern Mediterranean has led to increased tensions in the region, from southern Europe to North ...

If there was any doubt about the moribund state of the two-state paradigm in Palestine, the unveiling of the White House’s peace plan last month has put that doubt to rest. The “deal of the century,” put together by Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in close cooperation with Israel’s Prime ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Virtually every sector of Iran’s civilian economy is now subject to U.S. secondary sanctions, rendering additional sanctions progressively less significant. Most of the economic damage affecting Iran’s economy is a product of the tightening of U.S. sanctions on Iran’s exports of oil imposed in May ...

Angela Lewis, Manager of Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company Angela Lewis is the Manager of the Global Intelligence and Threat Analysis Team at The Walt Disney Company. Prior to joining the private sector, Ms. Lewis served as a Senior Counterterrorism Targeting Officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, ...

At the recent December 2019 plenum, Chairman Kim, rather than giving his traditional New Year’s speech, outlined a different strategy toward the US moving forward in 2020. In doing so, he highlighted the dignity of the country, a return to a combination of military and economic development, and the requirement ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 26, 2019, U.S. Special Forces launched a major operation that resulted in the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Less than one week later, ISIS confirmed the death of al-Baghdadi and announced its new leader, the so-called Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. As ...

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that the situation in Libya is a “scandal” and expressed his frustration over countries pushing for progress and then not backing it up in their actions.  The Secretary General focused on countries that participated in last month’s peace talks in Berlin, ...

Last week, The White House announced President Donald Trump’s vision for a ‘comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.’ The White House refers to it as a peace to prosperity plan but it has its shortcomings, namely that the Palestinians weren’t involved in its drafting and rejected the plan ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Ambassador Deborah K. Jones, former U.S. Ambassador to Libya (2013-2015) about the state of play in the country, who wants what and why it matters to the U.S. The Cipher Brief:  How did Libya get to where it is today? Jones:  My theory on Libya ...

Representatives from Libya's warring parties began talks in Geneva on Monday.  The discussions, known as the Libya Military Joint Commission are led by the UN, and are attended by five officers from the UN recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli, and five officers appointed by the renegade military ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Sudesh Amman committed a terrorist attack in Streatham, London over the weekend after having served half of a prison sentence of three years and four months. This is the third case of terrorist recidivism in the United Kingdom in recent months, which included an attack ...

  Bottom Line Up Front U.S. officials have expressed confidence that a series of drone strikes in Yemen in January was successful in killing Qassim al-Rimi, the leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Even after losing several high-ranking militants, AQAP remains highly capable of plotting attacks and dedicated ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trend Line Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At the end of 2019, more than 16% of Venezuela’s population have fled the country, an astonishing 4.7 million people. Venezuelans are fleeing at a more rapid rate than Syrians were escaping the civil war at the peak of that conflict, and an estimated 6.5 ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. The 70th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will be celebrated this March 5 with the prospect that during this decade, there will be appreciably more nuclear weapons states than ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of a partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Making Security Cooperation More Effective:  The Role of Advanced Education in Building Trusted Professional Networks ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data on a quarterly basis to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Deep fakes are videos that have been digitally altered or manipulated to produce human bodies and/or faces that look and sound authentic. With the proliferation of social media and accessible software and technologies, there are many options available to anyone seeking to manipulate videos and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Europe’s use of the formal dispute resolution provision of the Iran nuclear deal is a consequence of the Trump administration’s abandonment of the deal in 2018. The Europeans have made clear that invoking the dispute mechanism does not imply that they will join the Trump ...

BOOK REVIEW: When Reagan Sent in the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon By Patrick J. Sloyan Reviewed by Robert Richer Cipher Brief Expert Robert Richer retired in November 2005 from the Central Intelligence Agency as the Associate Deputy Director for Operations (ADDO). Prior to his assignment as the ADDO, Richer ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are developing and provide expert ...

The Cipher Brief’s Open Source Trendline Report utilizes open source data to track trends around the world that impact national and global security.  We break the world down by region and provide you with a recent timeline to help understand the pace at which events are developing and provide expert ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on national security-related topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Coronavirus continues to spread from Wuhan, China, as global health authorities work to contain the spread of the disease. In a globalized world with abundant transportation modes and consistent cross-border movements of people, diseases can spread rapidly. Over the past two decades, a number ...

When news broke that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was scheduled to deliver the Friday Prayer sermon on January 17 for the first time since 2012, Iranian media went into overdrive to promote the event.  One reporter with the state media conglomerate Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) previewed ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Fighting in Libya has dragged on for the past eight years following the ouster of the country’s longtime leader, the dictator Muammar Qaddafi. Access to energy reserves are driving the interest of external actors in Libya, in addition to other issues, including migration and counterterrorism. ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Military Aid and its Unintended Consequences The author is Rana Shabb, PhD Candidate, Sam ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The operations of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF) will continue unabated despite the death of its commander Qasem Soleimani. His successor, Esmail Qaani, has intimate familiarity with all Qods Force operations but lacks Soleimani’s independent channel to Iran’s Supreme Leader. The ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM.  In case you missed it, you can read The Worst Possible Day: US Telecommunication and Huawei – Pt. 1 here  ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Russian President Vladimir V. Putin is continuing his ironclad grip on power through newly introduced changes to the Russian constitution. In mid-January, Russia’s Parliament rubber stamped the appointment of Mikhail Mishustin as the next Prime Minister, though he is widely considered to be a puppet ...

Thomas Donahue is a Cipher Brief expert and former Senior Director for Cyber Operations on the U.S. National Security Council Staff.  His article was originally published by National Defense University Press PRISM. As a global power, the United States must be able to sustain military forces and project power anywhere ...

John McLaughlin served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and served as Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.  He currently serves as a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.   The current situation between the United States ...

BOOK REVIEW: Shadow Strike: Inside Israel’s Secret Mission to Eliminate Syrian Nuclear Power By Yaakov Katz Reviewed by Marc Polymeropoulos Marc Polymeropoulos served 26 years in the CIA before retiring from the Senior Intelligence Service in June 2019.  His positions included field and headquarters operational assignments covering the Middle East, ...

OPINION -- When are members of Congress going to wake up and play their Constitutional role as an equal branch of government? Neither the Democratic leadership in the House, nor the Republican leaders in the Senate are these days carrying out oversight on key national security issues involving the Executive ...

Rob Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Dannenberg is now an independent consultant and speaker on geopolitical and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran has experienced intermittent periods of unrest in the decades since its Islamic Revolution of 1979, but the situation unfolding in early 2020 is exceptional. Dispatches from the protests suggest that Iranians believe that the highest levels of the government are responsible and must be ...

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman and the Middle East’s longest serving ruler, died on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power.  Oman, under Qaboos rule, transformed from an undeveloped country in the 1970’s, to a country known as ‘the Switzerland of the Middle East’ at the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Somalia, is resurging again and demonstrating the ability to launch attacks with impunity. Since March 2017, al-Shabaab has launched close to 900 attacks on civilians and hundreds more against U.S., Somali, and Kenyan troops.  Al-Shabaab controls vast swaths of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Early this week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr labeled the December 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola as an act of terrorism. The attack, which killed three and injured eight, was conducted by Saudi citizen Mohammed Alshamrani, who was in Pensacola for military training. ...

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Since retiring from the government in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian response that targeted Iraqi bases, the possibility of a conventional war between the United States and Iran seems to have diminished. Despite the decreasing tensions, both Washington and Tehran are likely to engage in asymmetric ...

OPINION -- Ten minutes into President Trump’s speech at his first 2020 presidential re-election campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, last Friday, he drew great cheers when he said, “If you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your own grave peril.” Moments later, Trump brought up the U.S. ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution By Gregory Zuckerman Reviewed by Christopher Messina Messina is an investor and entrepreneur who works in global capital markets, cybersecurity, commodities and technology. He is Co-Founder and CEO of CrowdFill, a next-generation asset trading fintech firm, is ...

The U.S. is considering whether it will expel more than a dozen Saudi Arabian military students after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed three people and injured eight others. In the aftermath of the shooting, the Pentagon ordered a review of how DoD ...