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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even though President Trump decided to keep a residual force of U.S. troops in Syria, it will not be enough to counter Russia and Iran. The U.S. will keep as few as several hundred troops in Syria, mostly around al-Tanf, focused on intelligence, surveillance, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While Pakistan relies on terrorists as proxies, it remains unclear exactly how much control the military and intelligence services have over certain of those terrorist groups. Iran has suffered from a recent increase in terrorist attacks, which could lead Tehran to adopt an aggressive counter-terrorism ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran has built leverage over Iraq’s key power centers and its economy through its arming of Iraqi Shia militias and supplies of natural gas. The growing prospects for a U.S. military drawdown in Iraq are causing Iraqi leaders to draw closer to Iran than they ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The announced resignation of Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, reflects a growing domestic power struggle over the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement. The resignation, which President Hassan Rouhani rejected, could have been an effort to appease hardliners critical of Iran’s continued adherence to the agreement. ...

As part of The Cipher Brief's special coverage in the run up to our 2019 Threat Conference in Sea Island, GA March 24-26th, we will be presenting a series of weekly briefs on pressing national and global security issues.  Cipher Brief experts, many of whom have briefed presidents and world leaders ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The 40thanniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution finds the country in a stronger regional position than at any time since the 1979 revolution. The Trump Administration’s re-imposition of U.S. sanctions has failed to isolate Iran internationally, but it has damaged Tehran’s economy. Iran’s continued compliance with ...

Cipher Brief Expert Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Iran celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Islamic Revolution during the first 10 “Days of Dawn” in February, beginning with February 1, the day Ayatollah ...

Last month, the U.S. Department of State marked the 35th anniversary of the U.S. designation of Iran as a state-sponsor of terrorism. Tehran is part of an exclusive club—partners in crime with other designees North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. Indeed, since at least 1996, in one country report on Terrorism after another, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities enable it to project power while compensating for an otherwise modest conventional military capacity. Iran’s supply of missiles to regional armed factions have helped these groups morph into significant threats to American interests and allies. The fielding of Iranian-supplied missiles by ...

In part one of his two-part exclusive series for The Cipher Brief, AEI Scholar Kenneth Pollack, the author of the recently-released Armies of Sand: The Past, Present and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness, discusses how the fundamental balance of power in the Middle East is changing, and what's driving the change.  You ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 13th, the Turkish military sent reinforcements to the border region with Syria. The move comes as the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has consolidated control over sections of Idlib Province. The HTS defeat of Turkish-backed rebels threatens the cease-fire brokered by Moscow ...

With U.S.-Iran tensions rising after the re-imposition of nuclear sanctions, neighboring Iraq will likely emerge as a critical battleground in the U.S.-Iran contest. As the U.S. and its allies have pulled back from Iraq over the past decade, Iran has upped its engagement with local proxies to gain an advantage ...

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made clear during remarks in Jordan on Tuesday that the U.S. is intent on putting  more pressure on Iran  in the new year and says that Washington will 'redouble' efforts to counter Iran's malign influence in the region. The State Department also says it is 'aware' ...

As part of our special coverage on Syria, The Cipher Brief spoke with Norm Roule, the former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, to get his expert assessment on how Iran might take advantage of a newly uncontested space in Syria, free ...

The 19 December announcement by President Trump to withdraw ground troops from Syria was surprising to everyone but should have come as a shock to no one. Here's why: First, ISIS may not be destroyed, but one is hard pressed to suggest that it remains an existential threat to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 19, 2018, President Trump unexpectedly announced a full withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Syria within the next 30 days. This pronouncement is at odds with the administration’s current strategy, as well as counsel of top military leadership. The Defense Department has strongly ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Hezbollah’s emergence as Iran’s key regional proxy has prompted additional U.S. efforts to choke off the terror group’s finances. Sanctions will likely be ineffective because Hezbollah is a sub-state actor with few connections to the formal global economy. U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah are modeled after ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The most significant U.S. sanctions on Iran—aimed at Tehran’s core energy and banking sectors—went back into effect on Monday November 5. The goal of the re-imposition of sanctions is multifold: to deny the Iranian government the revenue it needs to develop strategic weapons or other ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, both U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense James Mattis declared the need for a ceasefire in Yemen. The statements come as some semblance of public and congressional pressure builds against U.S. support for the Saudi-led catastrophe, which up until ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump Administration is seeking to minimize any U.S-Saudi rift over the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in order to preserve Washington’s recently revitalized counter Iran strategy. The policies of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia (“MBS”) have set back, rather than ...

Last spring, two weeks after the Trump Administration withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the international arms control deal that curbed Tehran's nuclear program - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a new approach to Iran that, he vowed, included history's most ‘draconian’ sanctions. This renewed ...

Bill Evanina is the Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) - a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community that leads and supports the government’s counterintelligence and security efforts.    The NCSC tackles that mission in a number of ways, but a large part of their task is ...

Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s Shi’a militia allies in Iraq enable the mullahs to exert substantial influence over Baghdad, and will continue to do so no matter the composition of the new Iraqi government. Key Iraqi Shi’a militia commanders are emerging as prominent politicians in their own right, capable of ...

Bottom Line Up Front: On September 26, Danish police arrested two men on charges of trying to send money and drones to the Islamic State in Syria. On September 27, police in the Netherlands arrested seven men in the central Dutch city of Arnhem and accused them of planning a ...

The United States and its allies routinely describe Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.  Despite this designation, the regime proudly supports Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Tehran funded, trained, armed and supported terror groups targeting U.S. military personnel in ...

Bottom Line Up Front The United States is alienating its European allies by insisting that they comply with U.S. sanctions against Iran. Iran is attracting international support by remaining, at least for now, in the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal. The European Union (EU) countries are establishing a ‘special purpose vehicle’ ...

Bottom Line Up Front: On October 01, Iran fired several ballistic missiles at Islamic State targets in Syria. Tehran claimed that the missiles were launched in response to the September 22 terrorist attack on a military parade in Ahvaz, Iran, that killed at least 24 people. The U.S. remains concerned ...

Leslie Ireland is the former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Intelligence and Analysis. She joined Treasury in 2010 after 25 years at CIA where she specialized in Iran, the Middle East and WMD. Prior to joining the Treasury Department, from 2008-2010 Ms. Ireland served as daily intelligence briefer to ...

President Donald Trump largely followed the U.S. policy script on Iran when he addressed the United Nations on Wednesday.  So what exactly, did the key players get out of the verbal nack and forth and what does it mean for the future complicated relations between the U.S., its European partners, ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Iraq continues to be an important frontier in the growing conflict between Iran and the Trump Administration. Recent Iranian actions and U.S. threats, set the stage for potential escalation as President Donald Trump prepares to chair a September 26 U.N. Security Council meeting that he has ...

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin served as chief of Israeli military intelligence from 2006-2010.  He is now director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).  Ari Heistein is special assistant to the Director. OPINION -- That Iran seeks to diffuse advanced weaponry to its proxies in Syria and Lebanon ...

Bottom Line Up Front Hezbollah’s experience in the seven-year long Syrian civil war has been a mixed bag, with both positive developments and negative consequences. While the so-called ‘Party of God’ has suffered significant casualties in Syria, losing nearly 2,000 fighters throughout the course of the war, it has gained ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Political infighting within Iran’s leadership over how to respond to the Trump Administration policy toward Tehran has convinced U.S. officials that their efforts are succeeding. Economic difficulties and popular unrest have put moderate Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on the defensive internally, although it remains unlikely that ...

The world’s malicious cyber actors -- Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea – have spoiled cyber’s original, idealistic vision and instead use cyberspace to advance competitive interests to undermine Western laws and norms and pursue a clandestine means (cyber theft) to catch up with the West in technology, political influence, ...

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) ...