There are multiple international dynamics at play in Venezuela this week, particularly between the U.S., which is supporting the uprising of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and Russia, a supporter of the government of Nicolas Maduro.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a strong and unusually public allegation this week ...

Bottom Line Up Front As U.S-supported Saudi air strikes continue to kill Yemeni civilians, a bill to end that support remains stuck in the Senate. In April, President Trump vetoed a different bill passed by both chambers aimed at ending U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, something ...

The leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Qassem Soleimani said this week that Iran will never negotiate with the Trump Administration after the U.S. ended its practice of issuing waivers to countries that buy oil from Iran. The move, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, ...

OPINION -- While the media and Congress have kept the public focused on the Mueller report and the next election, there are national security budgetary issues that are piling up that require attention. For example, a lack of spare parts has kept some 350 F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighters, already ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The global jihadist movement is alive and well, even after the so-called Islamic State’s territorial caliphate has collapsed. The Iranian Threat Network has grown in strength and now extends further than at any point in recent memory. The threat posed by right-wing extremism is undeniable—several ...

Cipher Brief Expert and former CIA Deputy Director David Cohen ditched the Washington law firm suit and tie last week for a robe and a bowl of soup as he made a cameo appearance on HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones. The CIA was the first to Tweet about it, ...

The anti-regime convulsions currently underway in Algeria and Sudan are the latest version of an “Arab Spring” that erupted in 2011 and that Arab autocrats and their security regimes ultimately quashed. The massive street protests in Algeria and Sudan forced the presidents of both countries—Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir—to resign. ...

The U.S. moved this week to apply even more pressure on Iran to end its involvement in illicit activities around the world by announcing that the U.S. State Department will no longer grant sanctions waivers to countries that import Iranian oil.    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the announcement ...

The Sri Lankan government responded to Sunday’s deadly terrorist attacks in part, by shutting down access to some social media sites, calling the ban a temporary way to stop the spread of unverified and speculative information. We spoke with Cipher Brief expert Farah Pandith, former chair of a Department of ...

Thursday’s expected summit between DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Vladivostok, Russia follows on the heels of President Donald Trump’s second summit with the North Korean leader in Vietnam that ended without an agreement between the two leaders on denuclearization. Kim may have achieved a ...

  Bottom Line Up Front President Trump’s veto of attempted Congressional limits on U.S. involvement in the war in Yemen increases the likelihood of a protracted conflict. Saudi Arabia faces no credible pressure to seek a negotiated political settlement in Yemen. Terrorist groups including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and injured 500 more.  A government official said an early investigation indicated the attacks could have been carried out in retaliation for a terrorist attack at two mosques last month ...

ISIS has claimed responsibility for a series of Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka that killed more than 300 people and injured 500 more.  Sri Lanka’s government is blaming the attacks on a local Islamist group, National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ).  A government official said an early investigation indicated the attacks ...

OPINION -- At almost every crucial moment in the Mueller report, President Donald J. Trump is recorded having expressed concerns to advisors that reports of Russia’s election interference might lead the public to question the legitimacy of his election. The legitimacy of Trump’s election should be questioned and investigated. “The ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Bytes, Bombs, and Spies: The Strategic Dimensions of Offensive Cyber Operations Edited by Herbert Lin and Amy Zegart, Brookings Institution Press Reviewed by George M. Moore, scientist-in-residence at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.  This collection published by the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Easter Sunday, coordinated suicide attacks shook Sri Lanka, leaving more than 200 people dead and injuring several hundred more. Eight separate attacks targeted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday, the culmination of the holiest week in the Christian calendar, as well as tourists staying in Western ...

On April 16, The New York Times published an article (in which I am quoted) with the headline, "Gina Haspel Relies on Spy Skills with Trump.  He Doesn't Always Listen."  It is inappropriate to assume that Haspel relies on some combination of 007 and Austin Powers relational jiujitsu to have ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s principal foreign policy vehicle and may be the most significant geopolitical strategy of the 21stCentury. BRI now extends to approximately 70 countries and is increasingly folding EU-countries under its infrastructure investment umbrella—most recently, Italy. Beijing’s investments in European ...

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the testing of as a new ‘tactical guided weapon’ on Wednesday in the country’s first weapons test since talks between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump broke down in late February. The weapons test was followed by a statement from the North ...

The Cipher Brief's 'Academic Incubator' column features analysis and observations by current and recent students associated with national security-focused academic programs.  Earlier this month, the commander of the Libyan National Army (LNA), Khalifa Haftar, ordered his troops to march on the capitol Tripoli, which is held by the UN-backed Government ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On April 16, Egypt’s parliament passed amendments to the Constitution that provide President al-Sisi with a path forward to maintain power until 2030. There is little observable public opposition to the constitutional changes, likely a result of the oppressive nature of the Egyptian government. Under ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In Europe, groups on the political far-right are attempting to mainstream and normalize their ideologies to recast themselves for the modern era. The Identitarian Movement is transnational, with linkages across Europe and increasingly in North American and Australia. The Identitarian Movement and similar groups base ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Global arms sales are booming, with a spike caused by a years-long increase in spending from countries in the MENA region. Countries exporting arms cite the link between deterrence and stability to justify these sales, while often downplaying the role these weapons play in helping ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The conditions inside camps of displaced persons across Syria and Iraq, including family members of Islamic State fighters, presents an immediate humanitarian threat and a long-term strategic security opportunity. The camps are a mix of people who fled the Islamic State as well as hard-core ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Turkey’s ruling AKP party is asking for a full recount in the mayoral election in Istanbul, making accusations of ‘wide-spread crimes.’ Defeats for the AKP in the nation-wide elections demonstrate that despite Erdogan’s attempt to consolidate power, there remains a very credible political opposition across ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In India, the world’s largest democracy, politics continue to be disrupted by ‘fake news’ and deliberate disinformation campaigns targeting the nation’s elections. ‘WhatsApp’ is used by more than 200 million Indians and plays a central role in the spread of false news while also feeding ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The 8 April Trump administration announcement designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization will have little practical effect on IRGC operations. There are few benefits to the designation because the IRGC is already widely sanctioned; few foreign companies transact any ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Vladimir Putin has consolidated Russian power in Moscow’s near abroad and traditional sphere of influence. The Kremlin has also made moves to increase the country’s influence in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. More recently, Russia has expanded its reach to Latin America ...

John Edwards spent 20 years at CIA in various operational and leadership positions.  He also spent 12 years in the private sector, working with two start-up companies before returning to CIA a little over three years ago, as the CIO.   In his first public comments since taking on his latest ...

The Principal Deputy Director for National Intelligence (PDDNI) Susan M. Gordon spoke at the recent Cipher Brief Threat Conference about  how technology and the role of the private sector are changing the way the U.S. Government must think about - and prepare - for future threats.  Gordon's approach to the mission ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On 2 April 2019, Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his immediate resignation, ending his nearly 20-year rule. For decades, real power in Algeria has been concentrated among a tight-knit clique of business leaders, military officers, and politicians tied to Bouteflika. Widespread, sustained street protests succeeded ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Atomwaffen Division is a Neo-Nazi group formed in 2015 with a cellular-based organizational structure and an estimated membership of several dozen to 80, located across the United States.  The group fetishizes Nazi relics and Third Reich propaganda and its ideology can be described as ...

Bill Rapp’s real story is just as interesting as the ones he makes up. The former CIA Analyst began working in West Germany back when the country was still divided after World War II.  He also worked in Turkey and the Aegean, Canada, Iraq and London. It wasn’t where he ...

A lot has happened since China expert and Harvard Professor Graham Allison’s best-selling book on China, Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides Trap was published in 2017. Thucydides was a Greek historian who chronicled close to three decades of war between Athens and Sparta and documented patterns ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The investigation into the hacking of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ phone demonstrates how private firms have developed sophisticated electronic espionage capabilities. From social engineering to cyberespionage, private firms and individuals are increasingly hired by governments to blackmail critics and rivals. This trend will likely intensify—barriers ...

BOOK REVIEW: How We Win:  How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders and Social Media Mavens Can Defeat the Extremist Threat By Farah Pandith Reviewed by Jeff Patterson, PhD, University of Texas at Austin Farah Pandith’s new book How We Win: How Cutting-Edge Entrepreneurs, Political Visionaries, Enlightened Business Leaders, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In March, 130 civilians were killed in an attack in the Mopti region of central Mali, where a growing security crisis threatens to further destabilize the country. Despite sustained international efforts, several jihadist groups are active in Mali and have exacerbated pre-existing tensions within the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A growing number of countries are taking steps to limit internet access for their citizens to suppress unrest and anti-government protests. The Algerian government has tried to shut down internet access ahead of elections, but the restrictions have failed to prevent the spread of protests. ...

OPINION -- As Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman clamor for a war against Iran, they seem to have conveniently forgotten the destruction and mayhem wrought ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On 18 March, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) released a white paper outlining its counterterrorism efforts in Xinjiang province. The document argues that China’s counterterrorism policies have been effective and are in accordance with the rule of law and protecting human rights. Many of the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is continuing its aggressive campaign against the growing influence of Chinese telecom giant Huawei as countries move toward 5G infrastructure. Particularly noteworthy is the adoption of Huawei infrastructure by ‘Five Eyes’ countries, America’s closest and most trusted allies in information sharing and intelligence ...

The Trump Administration and the international community are focused on helping Venezuelans dislodge Nicholas Maduro from power and install Juan Guaido in the presidential palace.  Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, is recognized by the United States and some 50 other countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Even ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: On 19 March in a surprise move, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned during a public television announcement. Nazarbayev’s resignation is strategic and designed to ensure a stable future for his country by promoting a smooth political transition. Russia and China each have a vested interest ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In December 2018, the U.S. announced it would look to end its support for‘unproductive, unsuccessful and unaccountable U.N. peacekeeping missions.’ The U.S. funds approximately 28% of the U.N. peacekeeping operations, which consist of 14 operations involving over 100,000 personnel. Washington objects to operations with no ...

The Cipher Brief is engaging with dozens of Cipher Brief experts, government speakers and private industry executives this week on the national security challenges that are impacting the public and private sectors.  We will have special coverage of the 2019 Threat Conference and will be re-posting some of our most ...

  Bottom Line Up Front There are possible links between the recent New Zealand mosque shooter and a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist white supremacist paramilitary organization called the Azov Battalion. The Azov Battalion is emerging as a critical node in the transnational right-wing violent extremist (RWE) movement. Recruits from the U.S., Norway, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On March 19, the coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State announced it was finally in control of Baghouz, IS’ last openly held territory in Syria. With tens of thousands of IS fighters and their families now captured, pressure is rapidly escalating as detention centers grow ...

The Department of Defense launched an experiment in 2015 aimed at making it easier for the government to benefit from commercial technology.  It was called the ‘Defense Innovation Unit Experimental’ (DIUX) and three and half years later, it’s no longer an experiment. Now known only as DIU, (minus the X) ...

Every morning, analysts, operators, and policymakers arrive at their desks to read the latest news and intelligence reporting that has come in during the past day. The daily rhythm of “reading the morning traffic” has remained largely unchanged since the 1950s. Professionals in the intelligence community and military spend upwards ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran can exercise ‘hard power’ in Iraq through several major Shi’a militias that it has nurtured. Iran’s militia allies are emerging as significant political actors in Iraq and potentially in the broader region, following the prototype of Iran’s key regional proxy, Lebanese Hezbollah. With armed ...