Saudi Arabia’s increasingly assertive moves against Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah have provoked understandable Western concern, particularly over the potential impact of these steps on Lebanon’s fragile political architecture and stability. But such focus on the drama following Riyadh‘s response to the most recent Houthi missile attack, and the unusual resignation ...

The Trump administration wants you to know that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad isn’t doing as well as he, or his Russian and Iranian allies want you to think, and that’s why they’re going to have to agree to some concessions at U.N.-sponsored talks in Geneva, rather than retaking the country ...

Cipher Brief experts and CIA veterans Norman Roule, Emile Nakhleh and Rob Richer, together with former U.S. Amb. to Yemen Steven Seche, weighed in Monday after Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh was reported killed by his former allies. Saleh had switched sides over the weekend, in hopes of negotiating an ...

The sudden resignation of Saad Hariri as Lebanon’s prime minister during his trip to Riyadh earlier this month raised suspicions about whether Saudi Arabia facilitated Hariri’s departure as part of its broader strategy to counter Iran’s expanding influence across the Middle East. This event could foment instability inside Lebanon and ...

The mid-December deadline for Congress to determine whether to re-impose nuclear-related sanctions on Iran is rapidly approaching – with uncertain progress. Enacting these additional sanctions on Iran would effectively mean that the U.S. is unilaterally withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action ...

The Swiss Foreign Ministry announced on Oct. 25 that it had reached an agreement with Riyadh and Tehran to represent Iranian consular interests in Saudi Arabia and Saudi consular interests in Iran. The landmark agreement, which was personally negotiated by Swiss Foreign Minister and Federal Councilor Didier Burkhalter, was first ...

President Donald Trump’s recent decision not to re-certify Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA has stimulated much debate on both sides of the Atlantic. But whilst in the U.S., both sides of the argument are being put, in Europe almost no one supports Trump’s policy – not governments, and certainly not ...

Qatar, Iran, and the Muslim Brotherhood were the targets of harsh criticism at a conference on Countering Violent Extremism hosted by the Hudson Institute in Washington on Monday. The rift between the Gulf countries that began earlier this year has complicated diplomacy and commerce throughout the region, with Saudi Arabia ...

Iraq’s top diplomat in Washington, D.C., cried foul Friday over Kurdish government charges that Iran backed Iraq’s campaign to retake Kirkuk. “The KRG has been mounting what I call a campaign of quasi-disinformation, trying to paint this as an Iranian-led affair,” Iraq's ambassador to the U.S. Fareed Yasseen said of the ...

Last week, President Donald Trump announced he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and would terminate the agreement entirely if its “many serious flaws” were not addressed. Yesterday, The Cipher Brief brought you the perspective of the most recent U.S. National Intelligence Manager for Iran, Norm Roule, ...

President Donald Trump’s non-certification of Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal has shaken the diplomatic firmament, infuriated the deal’s supporters, and delighted its opponents.  Although the president has been clear that he opposes the deal despite the public endorsement by members of his cabinet, ...

The surprise advance of Iraqi troops into the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk on Monday raises a spectre that has haunted Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion: Can the country remain united? In a referendum held this September by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), 90 percent of Iraqi Kurds voted in ...

This September, voters in the territories controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly to declare independence from the central government in Baghdad. In response, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran have conducted joint military exercises around the KRG in an unprecedented show of solidarity between three historic ...

On Friday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would not re-certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal signed in 2015, calling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” Trump also announced the U.S. will be designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) ...

President Trump announced on Friday that he will not certify Iran’s compliance to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat of Iran’s nuclear breakout.” This move bounces the ...

President Donald Trump on Friday announced he would not certify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal and vowed to terminate the agreement if its “many serious flaws” are not tackled. “We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror, and the very real threat ...

Turkey’s announcement of what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called “a serious operation in Idlib” last Saturday has injected uncertainty into the Syrian civil war, but one thing is clear: militarily, the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad is winning. The question now becomes: to what extent will the ...

President Donald Trump’s threatened de-certification of the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement is sure to damage not just the deal itself, but the ultimate credibility of the United States. But his reported plan to declare Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group would pose an ever more troubling risk: plunging ...

The White House is expected to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group as part of the White House’s tough new tact on Tehran, according to multiple news reports—but experts say doing so could worsen regional conflicts. This week, President Donald Trump will announce the designation as part of a ...

President Donald Trump is reportedly about to extend a terrorism designation to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety. The IRGC is both the dominant force inside Iran and the instrument through which the Islamic Republic projects power abroad. Operating throughout the region, the IRGC is deeply entrenched ...

President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated decertification of the Iran nuclear deal would hand the problem off to Congress, setting off a 60-day countdown for lawmakers to decide whether to re-impose sanctions — and leaving the accord in limbo. Trump will not certify the Iran nuclear deal because the agreement is not ...

As war in Yemen drags on, the people of Yemen are facing severe humanitarian circumstances, with many starving, succumbing to disease, or unable to receive necessary medical supplies. According to Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist based in the country’s capital of Sana’a, many Yemenis feel blame their misfortunes on the ...

Billed the “forgotten child” of the Middle East, Yemen is ensnared in a three-year old civil war with no end in sight. Despite haphazard international attempts to mediate a ceasefire, the prospects for reconciliation remain bleak, and Yemeni citizens continue to face a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. All the while, the ...

Civil war in Yemen has dragged on for approximately three years with no end in sight. Forces loyal to Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have essentially fought the Iranian-backed Houthi opposition to a stalemate, while a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in ...

Multiple challenges face Iran-Afghanistan relations, chief among them are security and resource issues.  Tehran seeks a stable government in Kabul, but one that does not rely on the U.S. for its security and stability.  Ironically, this has led Iran to, in the short-term, make common cause with the Taliban so ...

As Afghanistan’s neighbor to the west, Iran has significant security and economic interests vis-à-vis Afghanistan. Relations between the two countries have been complicated for centuries, but the complex nature reached new heights in the latter half of the 20th century after the Iranian Revolution of 1979 saw a Shiite regime ...

As Afghanistan’s western neighbor, Iran maintains a vested interest in prodding war-torn Afghanistan towards achieving political and economic stability. Burdened by Afghan refugees and a stream of narcotics that have traversed the Iranian-Afghan border and strained the Iranian economy, Iran’s leadership has prioritized resolving these issues and pursuing its own ...

Donald Trump’s address to assembled world leaders at the United Nations last week raised new doubts about his willingness to renew waivers for Iran and continue with the Iran nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Until then, there had been encouraging signs that senior cabinet ...

Until 2003, Iraq and Saddam Hussein posed perhaps the most direct military threat to Iran in the region. Haunted by the memory of bitter trench and chemical warfare during the eight year Iran-Iraq war in the ‘80s, both countries eyed each other warily for decades. The 2003 U.S. invasion, which ...

Iran’s principal regional nemesis was removed when Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown by the United States in 2003. The new Iraq quickly fell under the leadership of powerful Shia Islamist parties, most of whom had sheltered in Iran to avoid Saddam’s persecution. One example is Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s ...

Since the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq in 2011, Iran has been able to exert powerful influence over its majority-Shia Arab neighbor. This became especially apparent in the years following ISIS' rapid territorial gains in Iraq in 2014. Today, Tehran funds and trains Shia militia in Iraq, enjoys ...

U.S. President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani exchanged blows at the UN General Assembly in New York this week – taking aim at both the Iran nuclear deal, and each other’s leadership styles. Rouhani on Wednesday called the Trump Administration “rogue newcomers” to the world of politics ...

President Donald Trump delivered his address this week at the United Nations General Assembly with a focus on the importance of sovereignty and the threats posed by rogue regimes he called “the scourge of our planet.” The president used his time at the podium to threaten that the United States ...

"No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man."  It was true for Heraclitus of Ephesus in ancient times, and it is equally true for Iranian leaders nowadays. When Tehran considers its strategy vis-à-vis the nuclear ...

The future of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is likely to take center stage at this week’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) gathering in New York – and to feature prominently in U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech before the UN on Tuesday. ...

Hezbollah – an Iran-backed militia that controls southern Lebanon – boasts a medium-sized army and a whopping arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets and missiles. Since 2011, much of that army has been engaged in Syria supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. While this has thinned Hezbollah’s ...

President Donald Trump and the Emir of Kuwait – one of two Gulf countries that has not cut ties with Qatar – said in a joint news conference at the White House on Thursday that the boycott of Qatar by its Arab neighbors will soon be resolved. Trump even announced ...

As part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic agreed to suspend activities related to its development of ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, or so it seemed. In the year and a half that has passed since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) went into ...

Earlier this summer, the Trump administration chalked up a number of supposed achievements in its ongoing efforts to contain Iran’s ballistic missile program. U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law additional sanctions, while U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley coaxed the British, French, and German UN representatives into ...

Although the U.S. has stated that Iran remains in compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran continues to expand its ballistic missile capabilities and conduct missile tests, which the U.S. and its allies have argued violate the agreement. The Iranian government has asserted that these tests are aimed at boosting ...

The liberation of Mosul by the Iraqi military presents the Trump Administration with an opportunity to both stabilize the region by continued successful counterterrorism and to challenge Iran. As the Administration pursues its objective to defeat ISIS in the Middle East, continued military assistance is likely to be required. On ...

Iran has rejected a U.S. demand that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors be allowed to check out Iranian military sites. “Iran’s military facilities are secret (sites), and not everybody can have access to them,” Iranian government spokesman Mahammad Baqer Nobakht told reporters at a weekly press conference in Tehran ...

On August 15, Israel’s Channel 2 news revealed satellite photos of an Iranian missile production facility near the town of Baniyas in northwestern Syria, capable of producing long-range rockets. Iran’s formidable military presence in Syria is nothing new, but the revelation of this production facility underlines how deeply the war ...

In a speech on August 13, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, reassured his public that Israel will not attack Hezbollah and Lebanon, arguing that Israeli officials believe “any war on Lebanon, no matter its objectives, will not be worth the costs Israel will incur in such a war.” In other ...

President Donald Trump has made it clear that he thinks the international accord to reign in Iran’s nuclear program was the “worst deal ever.”  And he has twice reluctantly certified that Iran is in compliance.  But The Guardian is now reporting that the White House is pressuring intelligence officials to ...

Qatar announced on Thursday it is restoring full diplomatic ties with Iran. “The state of Qatar expressed its aspirations to strengthen bilateral relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran in all fields,” the Qatari Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that Qatar’s ambassador will return to Iran after a ...

With the liberation of Mosul from ISIS and the impending conquest of the “Caliphate” capital Raqqa, the U.S. is at a decision point in the Middle East. But it does not yet have a coherent strategy, as has been pointed out by Emile Simpson in a savvy piece in Foreign ...

The new sanctions slapped on Iran (and Russia and North Korea) last week by the U.S. Congress—and the sanctions placed the previous week on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by the U.S. Treasury, State, and Justice departments—threaten to make the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA - aka the ...

As if there were not enough world problems already facing the United States, President Donald Trump is now talking about declaring Iran “non-compliant” with the July 2015 nuclear agreement that the Tehran regime signed with the P5+1 – China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany. By U.S. law, ...

President Donald Trump’s administration slapped fresh sanctions on Iran on Tuesday, shortly after certifying the country is technically complying with the nuclear deal — a move that experts say is a key part of the White House’s approach until the comprehensive review of Iran policy is completed. The Treasury Department ...