OPINION -- As 2019 draws to a close, it is worth re-examining not only which leaders attracted media attention, but also looking ahead with respect to strategic trends and which world leaders merit the most attention by President Trump and his national security team.  In this context, while the words ...

Bottom Line Up Front NATO countries gathered this week to celebrate the alliance’s 70th anniversary amidst growing uncertainty over the institution’s future. In a recent interview, French President Emmanuel Macron lamented that ‘what we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.’ NATO has been criticized as an anachronism, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The top commander for U.S. forces in the Middle East warned that the growing U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf might not be enough to deter Iran from attacking Gulf states. The comments by CENTCOM commander Gen. McKenzie followed publication of a Defense Intelligence ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Senior U.S. officials have inexplicably parroted statements echoing the Kremlin’s talking points that Russia was a victim of a Ukrainian smear campaign. In a display of remarkably careless operations security, American government officials regularly communicated on unsecured lines in heavily-monitored counter-intelligence environments with little concern ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi continues his crackdown on any dissent, real or imagined. Since anti-corruption demonstrations began in late September, the government has arrested thousands. There are widespread and credible reports of torture and indefinite detention. Meanwhile, the United States is openly supporting its ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 26, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a raid by U.S. forces in northern Syria near the Turkish border. The October 27th announcement by President Trump marks another shift for a group that has persisted as a 'brand' and global insurgency for years. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On September 20, the Trump administration sought to completely shut Iran out of the international financial system by imposing new sanctions on its Central Bank. The Central Bank sanctions are complicating Iran’s efforts to import food and medicine, producing effects comparable to a blockade of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On Sunday evening, the Trump administration released a statement from the White House press secretary that signals a major shift in U.S. policy toward Syria. The decision to pull back and allow a Turkish military incursion means that Washington has betrayed its truest allies in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to the G-7 meeting on Sunday signals European resistance to the Trump administration’s Iran policy. Despite provocative Iranian actions, G-7 European countries continue to seek ways to preserve the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear agreement. President Donald Trump’s refusal ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is so firmly aligned with Saudi Arabia, even bipartisan measures in Congress to curtail U.S. arms sales to Riyadh have failed. The deployment of 500 American troops to Saudi Arabia is intended to demonstrate a united front against the prospect of growing ...

a-mok (adverb) – to behave uncontrollable and disruptively. Synonym: go berserk In the midst of debate over whether President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Dan Coats as the next Director of National Intelligence is qualified for the job, the President made comments on Tuesday that may explain his thinking.  Talking ...

  Bottom Line Up Front President Trump’s revelation that the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone on July 18 suggests that tensions in the Gulf will not subside any time soon. The U.S. shootdown might have been intended to satisfy critics who opposed President Trump’s decision in June to refrain ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The UN recently released a report that squarely places blame for the murder of prominent Saudi dissident and U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the highest levels of the Saudi government. Against this backdrop, Riyadh is set to host the G-20 in 2020. President Trump has ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. and Iran are close to a conflict that would have no clear end and could quickly spread throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran has acquired leverage by building proxies and allies into politico-military forces, arming them with short-range missiles, rockets, and other ...

  Bottom Line Up Front For the first time since 2001, there might be meaningful Congressional oversight over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). From a legal standpoint, the U.S. has relied on the 2001 AUMF for nearly all of its military engagements in the post-9/11 era. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The only consistency in the Trump administration’s Middle East policy has been to support autocratic regimes and strongmen, as it has in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Trump administration’s top national security officials met with Congress multiple times in May to discuss how the President ...

  On May 10, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a raise in tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 to 25%, further escalating the ongoing trade dispute with Beijing. The hike in tariffs came as a surprise as both the U.S. and China had been raising expectations in early May ...

  Bottom Line Up Front  Tensions have spiked between the U.S. and Iran recently, with both countries engaging in a series of tit-for-tat actions and heated rhetoric. But conflict should not be considered inevitable; containing Iran is possible and presents a favorable alternative to direct military conflict. Iran’s ‘playbook’ is ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. State Department is reportedly increasing its counterterrorism efforts, even as its diplomatic portfolio is further reduced. The State Department’s Antiterrorism Assistance program (ATA) has long served as a critical component of the department’s liaison efforts. However, the Trump administration’s open disdain for diplomacy ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Trump administration is reportedly considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). Given the history of the group and its deep roots in society and religion, the designation would complicate existing issues and comes with significant drawbacks. The Muslim Brotherhood is ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On April 10, President Trump signed an extension of the emergency order authorizing the continuation of U.S. military operations in Somalia. Just last week, the U.S. military conducted an airstrike in Somalia, reportedly killing three Islamic State fighters, demonstrating the tactical nature of the counterterrorism ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. and the Taliban will soon resume talks in Doha, Qatar, as the peace process moves forward but without significant input from the Afghan government. Peace talks are primarily centered around two issues: a Taliban pledge not to harbor international terrorist groups and the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On March 11, the Trump administration submitted a $4.7 trillion-dollar budget proposal that details its spending priorities. The administration’s proposed budget prioritizes military spending, along with border security and the creation of a new ‘Space Force.’ The actual budget will differ substantially from the proposal, ...

  Bottom-Line Up Front Sino-Pakistani relations are deepening on all fronts, creating a new geopolitical reality on the Indian subcontinent. Sino-Pakistani relations have solidified through increased military cooperation and economic engagement through the Belt and Road Initiative. The growing debt crisis coupled with the long-standing threat from terrorism in Pakistan, ...

  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 ...

Former State Department Regional Medical Officer and Psychiatrist, Kenneth Dekleva pieces together recent news from the Hanoi Summit with a focus on Kim Jong-un’s behavior and what he might do next. The results of the recent Hanoi summit between Chairman Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump have led to a ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, held on February 28, produced no substantial outcomes in the goal of denuclearizing North Korea. Another state with significant stakes in the North Korean crisis is China, who is closely ...

After much anticipation of a signing ceremony between the U.S. and North Korea, President Donald Trump and North Leader Kim Jong-un left Hanoi with no deal.  It was a move applauded even by President Trump’s harshest critics, as it became clear that the U.S. and North Korea, despite two high-profile ...

Expectations are high for the second summit of President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jung-Un.  Most people assume that there wouldn’t be a second summit if the principals weren’t confident that the summit would be a success.  So, how do we define a successful summit? The first summit was historic, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even after the collapse of the territorial caliphate in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State will live on through its franchise and affiliate groups. Among the most capable affiliates are those in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, the Islamic State Khorasan Province in Afghanistan and IS’ branch ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-177 to require the administration to end support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. If the bill clears the Senate it would be the first time a War Powers Act bill passed both chambers, setting up ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On January 19, a car bomb exploded in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, believed to be the work of the New IRA. On January 17, the National Liberation Army (ELN) killed 20 police cadets after exploding a car bomb at a training center in Bogotá, Colombia. Colombia ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will give terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) more room to maneuver. AQIS is a major node in a network with deep roots in South Asia, and it works closely with other terrorist groups, including the ...

The Government remains shut down after President Donald Trump offered a plan over the weekend to provide temporary protection to some groups of immigrants if Democrats agree to fund the border wall.   Democrats refused the offer and are calling on the President to re-open the government while  they address issues ...

  Bottom Line Up Front  U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to eight Arab nations from January 8-15, as he attempts to lay out a coherent U.S. approach to the Middle East. Pompeo must assuage the concerns of U.S. allies about Iran’s quest for regional hegemony, reassuring them ...

As part of our special coverage on Syria, The Cipher Brief spoke with expert Emile Nakhleh, former member, CIA’s Senior Intelligence Service, to get his assessment on how the President’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria is likely to be acted on by allies, other countries in 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 The October killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shifted U.S. congressional opinion sharply against Saudi Arabia’s de-facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Congress is seeking to compel the Trump administration to cease all logistical support for the Saudi-led coalition battling Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Qatar’s withdrawal from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is strongly correlated to Doha’s ongoing rift with the cartel’s dominant member, Saudi Arabia. The withdrawal is intended, in part, to bolster Qatar’s standing with the Trump administration, while allowing it to ‘focus efforts’ on ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On December 1, President Trump met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina. The meeting comes at a crucial time for the Sino-U.S. relationship, which has been continuously deteriorating throughout the Trump presidency. Both Xi and Trump are to ...

The President reaffirmed during his November 7 post-election press conference that the deployment of thousands of U.S. active duty military personnel to the nation’s southwest border would continue apace. Pentagon officials report that the deployment could exceed 8,000, even in its current form. At the same time, the Pentagon is ...

Saudi Arabia and its crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, (MbS) are confronting a crisis. How they manage to extricate the kingdom will have potentially long-term consequences for the kingdom, its relationship with the U.S. and for its image worldwide. It is tempting to exaggerate such situations. In this case, the ...

The President’s recent tweet storm threatening to close the U.S.’s land border with Mexico and order military action to counter a “dangerous” caravan of asylum seekers, highlights his interest in making border security a key issue in the midterm elections.  Rhetoric aside, the Republican-controlled Congress continues to reject his effort ...

OPINION: The eyes of an intelligence officer are trained to look for what a person’s behavior uncovers about his or her motivations and aspirations, which can then help predict future behavior. Watching the president’s recent actions regarding North Korea—his desperation to meet in person with Kim Jong Un, his fulsome ...

  One wonders what the alien creature Griffin, portrayed by Michael Stuhlbarg in Men in Black III, and capable of seeing all possible futures, would see in the range of outcomes for the upcoming meeting between two other interesting beings who are the leaders of North Korea and the United ...