Bottom Line Up Front By purchasing Russian S-400 missiles, Turkey has complicated an already strained relationship with NATO and the West. The U.S. has ejected Turkey from the F-35 program, while insisting that Turkey remains a trusted NATO partner. The past several years have seen Ankara move further away ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who held senior positions including Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; and Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The various ...

  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 ...

The fiscal 2020 Intelligence Authorization Bill, that recently passed the House by an overwhelming 397-to-31 vote, contains provisions that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said would call for “new notification requirements regarding covert or overt efforts by foreign governments to undermine trusted institutions or to interfere in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Pakistani authorities have arrested Hafiz Saeed, founder of the terrorist group LeT and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan outlawed LeT in 2002, although the group continues to operate with the assistance of elements of the Pakistani security services.  New Prime Minister Imran Khan ...

New audio of the seizure of a British-flagged tanker indicates the vessel was too far away from help to avoid being forced to change course by Iranian Paramilitary forces last week.  In audio released on Sunday by a maritime security firm, a British officer unsuccessfully demanded freedom to sail through ...

BOOK REVIEW: THE NEW GIRL     By Daniel Silva Reviewed by Robert Richer, Former Associate Deputy Director for Operations, CIA Richer retired from the CIA in November 2005. Prior to his assignment as the ADDO in 2004, Richer was the Chief of the Near East and South Asia Division, responsible ...

  Bottom Line Up Front President Trump’s revelation that the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone on July 18 suggests that tensions in the Gulf will not subside any time soon. The U.S. shootdown might have been intended to satisfy critics who opposed President Trump’s decision in June to refrain ...

Cybersecurity firm Finite State issued a recent report concluding that telecommunications equipment made by Chinese firm Huawei present a higher percentage of security vulnerabilities than equipment produced by other firms. A story in The Wall Street Journal citied numerous sources inside the Administration who pointed to the report as further ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The UN recently released a report that squarely places blame for the murder of prominent Saudi dissident and U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the highest levels of the Saudi government. Against this backdrop, Riyadh is set to host the G-20 in 2020. President Trump has ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s recent responses to U.S. pressure, including to the UK-led seizure of a Syria-bound Iranian oil tanker, have brought the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal to the brink of collapse. The UK and other European countries still seek to de-escalate tensions and avoid a U.S.-Iran military ...

Tensions remain high between Iran and several EU countries, even after some of the primary signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement vowed their continued support this week, offering Iran an opportunity to reverse its recent, deliberate violations of the JCPOA.  In play right now: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ...

  The withdrawal of UAE troops from the disastrous war in Yemen is forcing Saudi Arabia to shoulder more of its own burden. There is not likely to be a serious public rift between the UAE and Saudi Arabia; the two still share a common vision of a Gulf region ...

Army Gen. Mark Milley indicated he would continue Pentagon independence from some of President Trump’s policies at his confirmation hearing to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In doing so he would be following the examples set by ...

Editors note: Daniel Silva is one of America’s most prolific and popular novelists.  His latest book, The New Girl, is officially out today, July 16th. Look for a full review of the book in The Cipher Brief this Friday, written by Cipher Brief Expert Rob Richer, who himself has had ...

Few today would argue that the threat surface in cyberspace has expanded significantly in the past decade.  Just ask your fridge.  From the new risks we’ve brought into our own kitchens, to the increased capabilities of nation states to disrupt everything from electricity to elections, there is an even greater ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following months of fighting, Sudan’s current ruling military government and the political opposition have forged a power-sharing agreement.  What happens next in Sudan will depend in large part on the rivalries and divisions that characterize the current regime, which is far from a monolith. One ...

Tensions remain high between the U.S. and Iran with no recognizable movement toward formal negotiations, and the Administration’s recent effort in Bahrain to gain support for their plan to find a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via investment feels bankrupt, but if there is one thing every good businessman knows, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran have now returned to the core issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent actions, including violating terms of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, are intended to make the Trump administration pay a price for its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. ...

The Cipher Brief is focusing this week on the real national security situation that is building along the southern border.  The President recently signed a $4.6 billion emergency spending bill to address the humanitarian crisis there, but Congressman Will Hurd, Republican from Texas, says it isn’t enough.   The Cipher ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As Sri Lanka continues to deal with the fallout from the Easter terrorist attacks, the government is reportedly examining links to Saudi-exported Wahhabism. Authorities are investigating Saudi-funded mosques and foundations to determine what impact the austere brand of Islam pushed by Riyadh is having on ...

Tim Willasey-Wilsey is a former senior member of the British Foreign Office and a Cipher Brief expert. He is currently a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at Kings College London’s Department of War Studies. President Trump’s short walk inside North Korea on 30th June was great theatre; perfect for a politician ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 5, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning an airstrike on a migrant detention camp in Libya that killed 53 people. Despite the 2011 U.N. arms embargo in Libya, countries like the UAE and Turkey continue to provide heavy weapons to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While the UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi is now seeking to distance itself from Riyadh on critical issues of foreign policy. Following a string of tanker attacks believed to be perpetrated by Iran, the UAE cited a lack of evidence ...

Under/Cover is constantly probing for insights that will help readers (and writers) understand how to gauge demand, and how to know if that story they have burning inside of them, is actually a book.  We recently spoke with Bruce Nichols, Senior Vice President & Publisher of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's (HMH) ...

OPINION -- While two former U.S. Presidents – Jimmy Carter in 1994 and Bill Clinton in 2009 – had made historic visits to Pyongyang, meeting with Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il respectively, last weekend President Donald Trump made history.  By meeting with North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-Un in an impromptu, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Pro-democracy protesters in Sudan reemerged in full force to demand a transition to a civilian-led government; demonstrations were met with widespread violence. After Sudan’s longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir was deposed in April, a military government seized power, backed by external forces including Saudi Arabia and ...

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran has violated the limits imposed on uranium enrichment that were a key part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  The U.S. withdrew its support for the deal last year.  The Trump Administration on Monday responded to the confirmation of increased uranium enrichment, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, Canada listed two radical far-right wing groups as terrorist organizations. Both of the newly listed terrorist groups—Blood and Honour and Combat 18—adhere to a Neo-Nazi ideology and advocate for the use of violence and intimidation to achieve their objectives. By listing Neo-Nazi ...

Our newest Cipher Brief Expert, Robert Cardillo talked with us about lessons learned during his time serving as Director of the National Geospatial -Intelligence Agency (NGA), and what he’d like to see more of, now that he’s in the private sector. The Cipher Brief:  What can you tell us about ...

The significant weekend visit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un started with a Tweet last Thursday as President Trump was getting ready to depart the G20 conference in Osaka, Japan. “After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I ...

  Many European nations are avoiding the responsibility of taking back their citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State; this will only fuel the cycle of radicalization and extremism. Ensuring fighters are afforded a fair trial at home and suspected terrorists who have not committed ...

When he became Secretary of Defense in early 2001, Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressed his concern about the inevitability of surprise. He often reminded other officials that “The only surprising thing is that we continue to be surprised when a surprise occurs.” Secretary Rumsfeld was fond of sharing the celebrated strategist ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On June 27, the Tunisian capital of Tunis was rocked by twin suicide blasts that killed one police officer and injured many others. One of the explosions hit a bus carrying Tunisia’s presidential guards, while the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack via Amaq ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since April, Houthi rebels have conducted at least ten separate missile or drone strikes on Saudi targets, including airports, oil pipelines, and other energy infrastructure. Despite boasting the world’s third largest military budget, the Saudis’ Patriot missile-defense system has performed inconsistently in the face of ...

There are a few more details coming out about last week’s cyber targeting of an Iranian-backed group by the U.S. military. Sources told CNN that the goal was to “disable and degrade” an Iranian-backed group that operates forces in Iraq and Syria by disabling their communications systems. The latest details ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Under the leadership of Jared Kushner, the administration is attempting to cobble together a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. The proposal has been harshly criticized by analysts and politicians alike, who note that Washington lacks credibility in the region and can hardly be viewed ...

U.S. businesses are being warned to harden their defenses in anticipation of potential cyberattacks as tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to escalate.  President Donald Trump posted to Twitter on Tuesday that “Any attack by Iran on anything American will be met with great and overwhelming force.  In some ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As it becomes more evident that Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro will remain in power, the Trump administration seems to have cooled on the idea of regime change in Venezuela. Given Russia’s intervention to bolster Maduro, and increasing tensions with Iran in the Persian Gulf occupying ...

From The Cipher Brief's Open Source Collection newsletter, U.S. officials and Cipher Brief experts are warning U.S. businesses to remain vigilant as tensions between Iran and the U.S. continue.  Christopher Krebs, director of DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a warning over the weekend that “malicious cyberactivity” was on the ...

Last week, the U.S. nearly launched retaliatory attacks against Iran for the shooting down of a U.S. military drone that was operating in the region.  While the Trump Administration has been casting some doubt in recent days as to whether the downing of the aircraft was authorized at the highest ...

Peter W. Singer is a Strategist and Senior Fellow at New America and an editor at Popular Science magazine. Singer is considered one of the world’s leading experts on changes in 21st century warfare and is a co-author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War. The Cipher ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. and Iran are close to a conflict that would have no clear end and could quickly spread throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran has acquired leverage by building proxies and allies into politico-military forces, arming them with short-range missiles, rockets, and other ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: In recent weeks, peaceful demonstrators in Hong Kong have gathered in large numbers to protest a controversial extradition bill with Mainland China. Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has indefinitely suspended the bill but recently ignored protesters’ demands to withdraw the bill completely. Since 1997, ...

In a climate where politics often rules the day, it’s difficult to strip out the divisiveness and drama to focus on issues that directly and indirectly impact our collective national security.  That is what The Cipher Brief has been working to do for nearly four years now.  I’d like to ...

  Bottom Line Up Front For the first time since 2001, there might be meaningful Congressional oversight over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). From a legal standpoint, the U.S. has relied on the 2001 AUMF for nearly all of its military engagements in the post-9/11 era. ...

Lockheed Martin says it will continue to bring down the hourly costs of operating the F-35 fighter jet, while continuing to address the problems that have been plaguing the program.  Some of those issues involve the supply chain and others speak to reliability.  The head of the program was at ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Shortly after being released from prison, Seuxis Pausias Hernandez, a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was sworn in as a member of Colombia’s congress. The transformation from rebel leader to politician was enabled by a 2016 accord between Bogota and ...

Putting Iran in a desperate situation without viable alternatives is likely to result in desperate responses. Two oil tankers carrying Japanese-related cargo were attacked in the Gulf of Oman last week. Shortly after the incident, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that Washington assessed Tehran was behind the attacks. Beyond the ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country "will not wage war against any nation”, as tensions continue to escalate between the U.S. and Tehran. U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said that the decision to send an additional 1,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East is based on the ...