Bottom Line Up Front Civilian pro-democracy protesters were gunned down on Monday by Sudanese security forces in Khartoum, the country’s capital. According to various media reports, at least thirteen protesters were killed and approximately 200 injured. Concerned about pro-democracy protests spreading beyond Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab ...

  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 ...

  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 As U.S-supported Saudi air strikes continue to kill Yemeni civilians, a bill to end that support remains stuck in the Senate. In April, President Trump vetoed a different bill passed by both chambers aimed at ending U.S. support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, something ...

The anti-regime convulsions currently underway in Algeria and Sudan are the latest version of an “Arab Spring” that erupted in 2011 and that Arab autocrats and their security regimes ultimately quashed. The massive street protests in Algeria and Sudan forced the presidents of both countries—Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Omar al-Bashir—to resign. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Global arms sales are booming, with a spike caused by a years-long increase in spending from countries in the MENA region. Countries exporting arms cite the link between deterrence and stability to justify these sales, while often downplaying the role these weapons play in helping ...

There was never any question that America’s relationship with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would become one of its most important in the region and indeed in the world. It is the birthplace of one of the world’s largest monotheistic faiths and serves as the Muslim world’s “custodian of its ...

  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 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 10, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in Cairo, Egypt that portrayed the U.S. as a force for good in the region. The speech was a direct repudiation of former President Obama and his administration’s policies in the region, especially ...

  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 ...

OPINION -- The Middle East, like the rest of the world, is a “very dangerous place!” according to President Trump. The Saudis, with America’s tacit help, made it so. President Trump’s bizarre and strange recent statement giving Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) a pass on his involvement in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At some point today, the U.S. government is expected to release its assessment on the murder of U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. President Trump has already minimized the assessment, questioning ‘will anybody really know?’ when asked about the Khashoggi murder ...

President Donald Trump is expected to receive a full report on the killing of Washington Post Journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  The President called a leaked CIA conclusion that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for the Khashoggi's killing "very premature" in comments over the weekend, though he ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On November 11, reports indicate that at least 149 Yemenis were killed in fighting for the port city of Hodeida. The toll includes 110 Houthi fighters, 32 pro-pro-government fighters, and 7 civilians. The United Nations is warning again that the disruption or destruction of the ...

  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 ...

As Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) has terrorized his opponents at home and abroad, fear has spread within the Saudi kingdom. Has he become the new Saddam of Arabia? As Iraq’s Saddam Hussein did in the 1980s, MbS is cementing his power domestically and regionally through fear and economic largesse under ...

The recent distrust between the United States and Saudi Arabia has raised questions about the crisis in Yemen.  The U.S. supports Saudi forces by providing intelligence and logistics support, among other things, as the Saudi-led coalition that includes the UAE, takes on the rebel Houthis that have pushed the Yemeni ...

  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 ...

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 ...

OPINION -- While President Trump’s claimed $110 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia remains “fake,” and shouldn’t be even considered “news,” there are deliveries of past sales in the pipeline to the Saudis that should be held up in response to the murder of Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 19, Saudi Arabia once again changed its official response to the killing of Jamal Khashoggi from a denial to an implausible cover story. The manner in which other countries react to the official version of events from Riyadh is extremely important; Saudi citizens ...

Turkey’s President says he will announce details of his government’s investigation into the disappearance of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Tuesday.  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will “go into detail” in a speech to Turkey’s ruling party, according to the AP. Cipher Brief Expert and former member of CIA’s ...

Bottom Line Up Front As the details continue to emerge, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi appears to be a political assassination, potentially orchestrated by the Saudi government. There are reports, given credence by President Trump, that the royal family will seek to blame ‘rogue elements’ for Khashoggi’s murder, however implausible ...

Cipher Brief CEO & Publisher Suzanne Kelly sat down with Cipher Brief Expert and retired four-star General Stanley McChrystal at the NYSE in New York this week to talk about his new book, Leaders: Myth and Reality.  The Cipher Brief will release that full, fascinating interview next week, but we ...

As details about the disappearance of Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi are revealed, its worth looking back at the deeper roots of the U.S. - Saudi relationship.   First printed in The Cipher Brief back in March, Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, a retired Commodore of the Royal Saudi Navy who now writes as a political ...

Bottom Line Up Front The disappearance and likely murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is the latest episode in an on-again, off-again struggle between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been pushing to move his country back into position as the ...

Demands for answers about what happened to journalist Jamal Khashoggi are increasing, as the U.S. Administration puts pressure on Saudi Arabia to provide more information.  Turkish authorities say Khashoggi, a critic of the Saudi regime, was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul a week ago.  The Saudi government has ...

Bottom Line Up Front: Islamabad has invited Saudi Arabia to join China as a partner in Beijing’s extensive infrastructure initiative throughout Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is a $60 billion investment by Beijing aimed to bolster trade and create a land bridge through Pakistan for Chinese goods and ...

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 ...

In the second part of a Cipher Brief two-part series on the significant implications of the battle for Hodeida, Cipher Brief Expert Norm Roule, who is also the ODNI’s former National Intelligence Manager for Iran, shares his secrets for understanding how today’s actions are influenced by the past and how ...

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 ...

Pro-government forces backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have launched an assault on rebels holding Yemen's port city of Hodeidah.  Potential humanitarian casualties are high, since the port serves as one of the only avenues for foreign aid to move into the country, where Yemenis are already facing dire ...

  The Arab Coalition's on-going bloody attack on Yemen's critical port city of Hodeidah, with Washington's acquiescence, will only deepen the humanitarian tragedy of the Yemeni people. The Saudi-UAE attack is part of the coalition's continuing military effort, again with American assistance, to topple the Houthi regime and restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu ...

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 ...

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has won over the American president. He now has a simple message for the American people: we’re the modern Gulf ally you’ve been looking for, to offset the threat of Iran, keep you safe from al Qaeda in Yemen and invest our oil wealth ...

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 ...

A missile fired by Yemen’s Iranian-supported Houthi rebels and targeting the Saudi capital Riyadh for the second time in seven weeks suggests such an attack won’t be a one-off. While the Saudis again say they were able to intercept the rocket, this might mark the beginnings of a pattern that ...

The failure of the recent Gulf Cooperation Council 2017 summit to resolve the six-month long crisis that pits Qatar against Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain obscured a little-known outcome of the meeting—that the council at least agreed on several mechanisms to move forward. In the end, the ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) took the unprecedented step of ordering the arrest of 11 princes, dozens of former ministers and business officials, and four current ministers, earlier this month. Despite the clucks of disapproval from some in D.C., President Donald Trump tweeted: “I have great confidence in ...

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 ...

There is little doubt that Putin’s foreign policy centers on reviving Russia as a major international power, which seeks to undermine the global American alliance that has underwritten international security since the end of the Cold War. Stretching across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, this alliance has continually thwarted ...

On Saturday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrests of dozens of ministers and other members of Riyadh’s elite, as part of a broader effort to ostensibly crackdown on corruption. Veteran Saudi/Mideast intelligence officer and Cipher Brief expert Norman Roule offered a more positive take than other network ...

Another shakeup atop the Saudi royal family, coupled with an escalation in the war in Yemen, has paved the way for the Saudi heir to the throne to consolidate power but has also stirred nationwide turmoil that could plant the seeds of a future backlash. On Saturday, Saudi Crown Prince ...

Nearly five months on, the “crisis” between Qatar and a coalition of nine countries led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has reached a relatively stable equilibrium. The countries’ resultant blockade of Qatar - over its alleged support for terrorist groups and ties to Iran – has not ...