Since oil prices plummeted in the last quarter of 2014, oil-producing countries have struggled to adapt to the new low-price environment. From reforms to slashed budgets, producers have found ways to cope and yet, for years, they failed to reach an agreement to reduce production, which could boost flagging oil ...

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) came to a surprise agreement at informal talks this September to reduce global oil production by between 200,000 and 750,000 barrels. However, final negotiations will not be held until the official OPEC meeting in November and many wonder if regional rivals, Saudi Arabia ...

From Syria, to climate change, North Korea, and the largest global refugee flows in history, the next President will face a uniquely challenging set of national security threats when she or he takes office. The Cipher Brief spoke with former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department and current ...

Fighting in Aleppo has intensified with a Russian-backed government offensive to capture the rebel-held sector of Syria’s largest city. The United States and its allies accuse Russia of deliberately targeting civilians. Moscow and Damascus say they only target terrorists. Russia joined the war a year ago, backing up its ally ...

Instability in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is at its worst in recent memory. While political volatility has been something of a constant in the region for much of the past century, threats to regional security – and to the nation-state system itself (for example, powerful terrorist groups ...

This July was the hottest month on record, that is, since the late 1800s (when recording keeping began), according to NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), and Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). It is likely 2016 will be the hottest year on ...

Today, Tunisia’s Parliament meets to hold a vote of confidence in the new unity government of Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. In a moment that seems to encapsulate the democratic ideals of the 2011 Tunisian Revolution, Chahed will present the parliament with one of the most diverse cabinets in the country’s ...

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Turkey on Wednesday marked the first time a senior White House official has called on the country’s president following last month’s failed coup.  Biden’s visit to Ankara was the Obama administration’s attempt at mending fences with a key partner in the fight against ...

Last week, the world learned of the unprecedented revelation that Russia was using Iran’s Hamadan military base to launch strikes into Syria. This week, that operation has already come to an end. Tehran announced Russia had stopped using its base. Moscow said it had completed its operation anyway. But it ...

In 1979, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat said that “the only matter which could take Egypt to war again is water.” That war may not have come yet, but the truth behind Sadat’s warning remains just as relevant today, and not just in Egypt. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) ...

From 2007-2010, Syria suffered the worst drought since record-keeping. Amidst corruption and mismanagement, the drought caused crops to fail and over a million farmers abandoned their land for the cities. Not long afterward, social crisis in these cities ensued and then revolution. With the support of Russia and Iran, Syrian ...

In 2016, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has experienced record-setting high temperatures. This is seen by meteorologists as part of a steady trend that will not abate and has led experts to predict that stress on water endowments and supplies in the region could in turn spur ...

Russia’s airstrikes into Syria from an Iranian air base mark a new phase in the relationship between the two countries. “Historically they’re not friends. They have been competitors, sometimes even rivals in the region. There’s a long history of rivalry in Central Asia,” says Anna Borshchevskaya, Ira Weiner fellow at ...

With coalition forces concentrating efforts against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the militant group continues to fester in Libya with the government struggling to battle its continued presence. This week, Western powers aimed to shift that balance. At the request of Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA), the United States ...

The beginning of the end of ISIS’s dominance over the Sunni Arab region of Iraq is at hand, following the Iraqi security forces’ clearance of ISIS from most of Fallujah, the first Iraqi city to fall to the terrorist group. Only one major Iraqi city remains in ISIS’ hands: Mosul. While ...

Last Sunday, Iraqi forces announced that Fallujah, the first major city captured by the Islamic State (ISIS) has been fully liberated. This is a significant win for the coalition fighting ISIS, allowing plans for the campaign to regain control of Mosul to begin. However, victory in Fallujah masks deeper problems. ...

More than two years after fighters from the Islamic State  (ISIS) captured the city of Fallujah, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) liberated the embattled city last Sunday, paving the way for the long-awaited march against the group’s largest stronghold in Mosul. Although welcome news, the war is far from over. Even ...

While the recent uptick in violence in Israel has been attributed to disagreements regarding the Jerusalem holy site known as Temple Mount by Israelis, or Noble Sanctuary by Palestinians, the issues are actually much more complex and longstanding.   For the Palestinians, there is a deep sense of frustration with ...

As a former official of the Palestinian Authority, Ghaith Al-Omari continues to follow developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  In an interview with The Cipher Brief, Al-Omari assesses the political landscape and the obstacles blocking Palestinian unity. The Cipher ...

Security is of upmost importance to Israel in the extremely volatile Middle East.  Yaakov Perry spent nearly 30 years in Shin Bet, rising through the ranks and eventually becoming the director of the Israeli security agency.  Perry tells The Cipher Brief that the Iran nuclear deal, the Russian intervention in ...

Regardless of the turbulence weathered over the past year, the U.S.-Israel relationship has never been stronger. Don’t be deceived by the political optics used to create a perceived wedge between the United States and Israel—the United States has made and continues to make the most robust critical investment in history ...

As the military campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIS continues to dominate U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, there is also an effort to disrupt and eliminate the terrorist group’s financial capacity. Terrorist financing networks are complex and intricate. Groups pull together funds from a variety of sources ...

In mid-October, the UN Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea published its latest report confirming that despite years of effort and the recent territorial gains that AMISOM (the African Union’s mission in Somalia) and the Somali government have made against al-Shabaab, the group continues to garner the finances it needs ...

The Somalia based terror group al-Shabaab has “diversified its economy” to ensure a constant income, from kidnapping for ransom and confiscating food and aid sent to rural populations, to forcing households to have expatriate family members send remittances from abroad to al-Shabaab’s coffers.  Some of the group’s most notable financial ...

For decades, belligerent groups have financed their operations by tapping into a variety of locally available economies, including illegal ones. The Shining Path in Peru was among the first groups to tax drug cultivation and smuggling. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia prolonged its life by being heavily involved in logging. ...

The global oil industry is going through a lesson in Economics 101:  When supply increases, prices go down.  Crude oil prices are currently hovering around $45 per barrel, a 65 percent reduction from a summer 2014 peak at over $100 per barrel.  A surplus in crude oil supply has kept ...

The business and geopolitical history of the 20th century was written in oil…black gold…Texas tea. Indeed, the need to secure abundant energy supplies has been an essential plot line of international relations ever since the Industrial Revolution. Some historians argue, for example, that the expansion of the British Empire was ...

In the seven months since arriving on the throne, new Saudi King Salman has brought fundamental changes to the Saudi power line-up and to succession politics.  Beneath the surface of the royal shake up, however, Saudi Arabia is also having to contend with trends in the global oil market that ...

Global oil markets are in flux.  Significant price swings—from triple digits to double digits, back and forth, over the past decade—are an indication of a systemic imbalance.  In a sector with few ready substitutes, this introduces new risks and heightens security concerns, with ramifications worldwide for the oil industry, oil ...

CIPHER SNAPSHOT: Turkey is a critical country for U.S. interests. Recent developments in Turkey’s domestic politics, economic outlook, and foreign policy have significant ramifications for U.S. stakeholders. Domestic Politics Turkey’s parliamentary elections in June yielded surprising results when the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), headed by President Recep Tayyip ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Mr. Khush Chosky, Vice President for Turkey and Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to get his thoughts on the U.S.-Turkey economic relationship. The Cipher Brief: How would you characterize the current state of the U.S.-Turkish economic relationship, and where do you see ...

The Cipher Brief spoke with Mr. Sinan Ulgen, founder and managing partner of Istanbul Economics and a visiting  scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, to talk about the current security environment in Turkey and its implications for Western businesses. The Cipher Brief: How do you see the political crisis in ...

The White House has reached an agreement with Iran to suspend its nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief. Congress now has 60 days to weigh in on the deal.  This morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is holding a hearing on the implications of the agreement. The Cipher ...

The call came on June 23. Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State, in June urged ISIS followers to go on a month-long killing spree. “Muslims, embark and hasten toward jihad,” said al-Adnani in an audio statement released last month. “O mujahedeen everywhere, rush and go to make ...