By threatening a devastating war against Iran, President Donald Trump’s recent response to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani’s benign statement about “the mother of all peace” and “the mother of all war” is another example of erratic and dangerous foreign policy pronouncements. Trump tweeted in capital letters that Iran “will suffer ...

The U.S. re-imposed sanctions on Iran on Monday after pulling out of the JCPOA Agreement in May.  European allies responded by issuing a statement saying the nuclear agreement with Iran "is working."   The reimposition of sanctions followed Iranian military exercises in the Gulf last week that U.S. officials largely interpreted ...

A recent European Union report  offers an EU specific look at terrorism faced by member states in 2017.   A part of that report focused on terrorist financing, particularly on how money-laundering operations for organized crime groups are partly financing Lebanese Hezbollah's military wing.   Just before Lebanon's Parliamentary elections in May, The ...

On July 28, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei marked 29 years since a referendum made his election official. Today, at 79 years old, he is still relatively young in the Islamic Republic’s gerontocracy.  The chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts and Guardian Council, Ahmad Jannati, is 91.  But persistent ...

President Donald Trump announced Monday that he would meet Iran’s leaders “anytime they want.” The President adding that he would meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without preconditions, and after high-profile meetings with North Korean President Kim Jung Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin, reiterating that he believes meeting with adversaries ...

Iran's Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani launched a series of  verbal attacks against the United States and President Donald Trump during a speech on Thursday at the Hamadan Martyrs' Conference.  Among his comments, Soleimani said that if President Trump planned to make threats -  referring to a Tweet President Trump tweeted ...

Days after nationwide protests began in late 2017, Iran’s minister of information and communications technology (ICT) sounded an alarm. “A Telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest,” wrote Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi in a December 30 tweet directed at the messaging app’s CEO. “Now is the time ...

Bottom Line: In the past decade, Iran’s cyber capabilities have evolved from a tool used to lash out against domestic opponents of the Islamic Republic to a central pillar of its national strategy of holding adversaries at risk and gleaning crucial foreign intelligence. Despite a fall in disruptive Iranian cyberattacks ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Sunday about Iran and its leadership ignited a war of words between the U.S. and Iran with President Trump weighing in via Twitter, warning Iran not to threaten the U.S., but how far-reaching will the impact of their words be? Pompeo accused Iran’s ...

In early July, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani threatened to prevent other countries from exporting oil if U.S. sanctions prevented Iran from selling its oil. Senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commanders quickly echoed the sentiment, which was followed by U.S. declarations that America would keep oil flowing through the Persian Gulf ...

The Trump Administration is increasing pressure on Iran since withdrawing from the JCPOA in May.  Last month, the U.S. began pressuring other countries to halt imports of  Iranian oil.  The Cipher Brief revisits the complicated relationship between Iran and Russia, on the heels of the Helsinki summit. Bottom Line: Russia ...

German prosecutors have charged an Iranian diplomat with conspiracy to murder after counterterrorism officials say they averted a planned terrorist attack near Paris last month.    Prosecutors say the 46-year-old Vienna-based diplomat is part of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The plot is described as bold and far-reaching.  Cipher ...

Kenneth M. Pollack is a Resident Scholar of the American Enterprise Institute. It’s not surprising that a great many people would like to push back on Iran, including the Trump Administration.  Over the past decade, Iran has made tremendous gains across the Middle East by taking advantage of America’s disengagement ...

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned Monday that military action in Yemen will fail.  The warning comes as a Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi rebels aligned with Iran, according to Reuters.  Still don’t understand the strategic significance of what’s happening in Hodeida?  Consider that the city has long served as a hotbed ...

The Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization is putting the IAEA on notice that Tehran is likely to begin producing centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium.    According to the Fars news agency, Ali Akbar Salehi says the move does not violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) ...

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  On the Agenda are a number of important strategic issues among the NATO allies, including U.S. support of the Syrian Kurdish YPG - a group deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well ...

Weeks after withdrawing from the Iran nuclear accord, the Trump Administration ratcheted up pressure on Iran by imposing harsh sanctions on key Iranian figures who have helped facilitate the Islamic Republic’s continuous array of malign activity in the Middle East. But questions linger around whether this financial-based approach will actually ...

The word ‘resignation’ is being used here in London - not, for once, about the actual or potential departure of yet another of our ministers, but to describe Britain’s reaction to the US decision to pull out of the Iran deal. Many people on this side of the Atlantic, right ...

The White House is correct in pointing out the weaknesses of the JCPOA, some of which have even been candidly acknowledged by former U.S. officials who worked on the agreement.  Yet, the question is not whether the agreement is perfect - but whether the alternatives would better serve the interests ...

Within hours of President Trump’s announcement that he was pulling out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blasted the move and insisted that Iran would continue to negotiate with the other signatories.  The U.K., France and Germany expressed disappointment in President Trump’s decision and ...

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday afternoon that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, or JCPOA, and re-impose harsh sanctions on Iran—including both JCPOA-related sanctions as well as additional economic sanctions.  In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced his country would abide by the tenants of the ...

As Iran and Israel trade accusations over Iran’s nuclear program, and the U.S. sends indicators that it may pull out of the JCPOA agreement, The Cipher Brief talked with Norm Roule—the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI and a Cipher Brief Expert —at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat ...

President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his belief that the Iran nuclear deal is flawed and if it is not amended to cure those flaws, the United States should abandon it. On January 12th of this year, he informed the American public that his administration is working with “key European ...

At the time of this writing, Iran’s avuncular Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is about to conclude a six-day visit to New York during which he has conducted a furious outreach to every conceivable advocate of the Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Although ...

French President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Washington featured both the first state dinner of the Trump presidency as well as an address to Congress. Macron arrived with a clearly stated mission: to convince President Donald Trump of the importance of the Iran nuclear deal and U.S. multilateral engagement in the ...

“The world has been more dangerous, but it has never been more complicated.” These were the words Michael Hayden, former director of both CIA and NSA, used to launch the 2018 Threat Report at The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference in Sea Island, Ga., on Sunday. Hayden first prefaced the ...

BRUSSELS – Director of Israel’s Ministry of Intelligence Chagai Tzuriel came to this European city to get the word out that if Iran tries to build a long-term presence in Syria, Israel would have to act – a conflict that could possibly be avoided if U.S. troops stay there. “Right ...

A bipartisan group of 115 American national security leaders, including 49 retired flag officers of the U.S. military; 19 former members of Congress and 29 former U.S. ambassadors, including five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel, issued a statement Tuesday backing the Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump has hinted he may jettison, ...

Just last month, the long-simmering Israeli-Iranian conflict came out of the shadows when Iran sent a drone across the Jordanian border into Israel, and Israel retaliated with air strikes on several targets including the Iranian drone operators at a Syrian base in Palmyra, northeast of Damascus. The two sides appear ...

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice revealed indictments for nine Iranian hackers and the U.S. Treasury sanctioned these same individuals as well as one entity, the Mabna Institute, for engaging in state-sponsored theft of intellectual property from 144 U.S. universities – estimated to value $3.4 billion. The campaign also targeted ...

In an unexpected turn of events, the sequence of dramatically different policies of the Obama and Trump Administrations has exacerbated the problem of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. President Barack Obama’s major legacy in the nuclear realm was the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which rolled back Iran’s ...

The state of dissatisfaction within Iran today suggests that the regime is in deeper trouble than any time since the fall of the Shah – a dissatisfaction that has spread to the lower class ranks that fueled Iran’s 1979 revolution. The resilience of Iran’s political institutions since the Islamic revolution ...

Bottom Line: As the Syrian regime consolidates power, with the help of Russia, Iran, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, its combined forces are growing bolder, presenting an increasing strategic threat to Israel. In response, Israel has begun adjusting its policy of selective intervention, recently targeting Assad air defense systems in response ...

In early January, Tunisia and Iran witnessed remarkably similar periods of spontaneous and widespread unrest. In each case, the demonstrations failed to rise to revolutionary levels, but the protests lingered for days and the worst of the violence was contained only after hundreds of arrests. Low level protests continue in ...

It was no surprise when two strategic vectors clashed this weekend on Israel’s northern front: The Iranian determination to build an advanced military force in Syria collided with Israeli determination to prevent that from happening. On a broader strategic level a conflict of this sort was expected, though the timing ...

Bottom Line: Tehran’s military doctrine seeks to deter a conventionally superior foe, the United States, from entering its territorial waters or borders through the threat of asymmetric retaliation. But with the expansion of Iran’s maritime reach – alongside their success in various proxy conflicts – Tehran’s efforts could have lasting ...

Bottom Line: As the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates enters its eighth month, the U.S. has been forced to strike a delicate balance in its dealings with critical allies in the Middle East. At the same time, the ...

From selling drugs to profiting from a pig farm, Lebanese Hezbollah’s hypocrisy knows no bounds – a political party with a military army that does the bidding of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That was the description of the group by Trump administration officials who announced new sanctions Friday ...

Cipher Brief experts General (ret) Michael Hayden and former CIA senior officer Norman Roule have had many conversations on the subject of Iran and the broader Middle East—but not usually in front of a public audience. The two served together in the U.S. intelligence community, with Hayden as former CIA ...

Bottom Line: On paper, Iraq’s democratic electoral system promises rare, fair representation in a region where politics is dominated by monarchies and authoritarian regimes. But in reality, the country’s political system has been hamstrung by inefficiencies and gridlocks that have often segregated, rather than united, the Iraqi populace. As Iraqis ...

Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule – a former CIA Mideast hand and DNI Iran Mission Manager – calls the demonstrations in Iran possibly the most significant since the 1979 revolution. He offers a look at how the protests are playing out and what might be ahead, in an interview with Executive Editor ...

The Trump administration is watching the Iranian protests closely – in order to name, shame and eventually sanction those cracking down on protesters and limiting access to social media, senior administration officials told a small group of reporters Wednesday. They wouldn’t say if President Donald Trump might pull out of ...

Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule – a former CIA Mideast hand and DNI Iran Mission Manager – calls the demonstrations in Iran possibly the most significant since the 1979 revolution. He offers a look at how the protests are playing out and what might be ahead, in an interview with Executive ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with former DNI Iran Mission Manager and Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule about the worst demonstrations in Iran since 2009. The interview is adapted for print below. This time, the rising prices and allegations of corruption seem to be driving the chaos. With little warning, crowds ...

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to look ahead at key national security issues. Intelligence veteran and Iran hand Norman Roule sketches out where we are now in the Mideast and Gulf region, and what he sees ahead for Tehran. On the state of the Middle ...

For this last week of 2017, we asked our experts to look back on key topics for this year, and predict what they see for the year ahead. CIA veteran and Middle East hand Rob Richer offered his take. On the fate of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, now that the ...

Tehran poses an increasing cyber threat to the U.S., in light of the Trump administration’s allegations that Iran is violating United Nations Security Council resolutions tied to the nuclear agreement. Iran-sponsored hackers—dismissively referred to as “kittens” for their original lack of sophistication—are bolstering their cyber warfare capabilities as part of ...

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley yesterday displayed an array of singed missile remnants and other parts that she said constituted “concrete” evidence that Iran had illegally supplied weapons to Houthi rebels in Yemen in direct violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231. In addition to codifying ...

President Donald Trump put Iran on notice in October, declaring that the U.S. would counter the regime’s “destabilizing activity.” Iran isn't listening. Instead, Iran is making gains throughout the region. Since October, Iranian leaders and their forces have used surrogates to launch what Ambassador Haley has just credibly argued are Iranian-made ...

The two-month mark is fast approaching when Congress could reimpose sanctions on Iran, possibly giving leaders in Tehran the right to pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, that bars them from pursuing nuclear weapons. President Donald Trump opened the door to renewed sanctions when he announced ...