Bottom Line Up Front The increasing proficiency of Iran’s missile and drone technology is key to Iran’s regional influence and deterrent capability. The September 14 Iranian strike on critical Saudi energy infrastructure demonstrated that Iran’s military technology has been underestimated by U.S. and other Western officials. Iran’s transfers of ...

  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 ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Killing in the Consulate: Investigating the Life and Death of Jamal Khashoggi By Jonathan Rugman Reviewed by Nick Fishwick Nick Fishwick CMG retired in 2012 after nearly thirty years in the British Foreign Service. He did postings in Lagos, Istanbul and Kabul. His responsibilities in London included director ...

  Bottom Line Up Front It has been one year since the brutal murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed by a team of assassins with ties to the highest levels of the Saudi government. Despite his denials, the C.I.A. has assessed with medium to high confidence that Saudi ...

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman is warning that military conflict with Iran would collapse the global economy.  He made the statement during an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes and said that he prefers a political solution over a military option. "The region represents about 30 percent of the ...

OPINION – It’s still unclear just how President Trump may further respond to the recent coordinated drone attack on a Saudi oil facility that has been blamed on Iran by the U.S., France, the U.K., Germany and Saudi Arabia. Within days of the attack, the President announced that he was ...

The U.S. has decided to send additional troops to Saudi Arabia after an attack on an oil facility that seriously impacted the country's oil production capabilities.  This comes as U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called the recent attack evidence of a "dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression". President Trump announced ...

  Bottom Line Up Front S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, labeling the recent attack on Saudi oil infrastructure as an 'act of war.' Though Saudi leaders have suggested Iranian involvement, they have stopped short of more definitive statements, leaving many in the region ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The September 14 strike on Saudi critical energy infrastructure by Iran or one of its allies directly challenges U.S. regional and global interests. The attack demonstrates Iran’s ability to cause severe damage through precision strikes. The incident illustrates that U.S. sanctions are not succeeding in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Over the weekend, Houthi rebels launched a drone attack against Saudi Arabia, targeting the Saudi Aramco crude stabilization facility in Abqaiq and an oil field at Hijra Khurais with ten drones. Despite Saudi Arabia spending untold sums on missile defense, Houthi-operated drones have been able ...

  Bottom Line Up Front To date, despite years of reported war crimes by nearly all sides involved in the Yemen conflict, there has been a complete lack of accountability and no consequences for collateral damage or rampant human rights violations. The Saudi-led coalition is unraveling, and for the past ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The latest attack by Houthi rebels against Saudi oil and gas infrastructure involved ten drones equipped with improvised explosives. The Saudis have achieved none of their goals in Yemen, while Iranian influence in the conflict, including Tehran’s support of the Houthis, has increased over time. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In a region where popular democratic revolutions have repeatedly been marginalized or crushed through force, Sudan appears to be on the brink of achieving something remarkable. The new agreement still leaves the military with too much power but the deal sets into motion a move ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The situation in Yemen continues to devolve into anarchy, with Emirati-trained forces battling troops from the Saudi-supported internationally recognized government. Fighters from the Southern Transitional Council (STC), whose objective is to secede from Yemen, seized control of military bases and government installations in Aden, one ...

Saudi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) finds himself in an interesting situation these days with his influence waning throughout the Middle East, and still feeling the blowback from the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  Here’s a quick look at where his influence is waning the ...

  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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 27, Bahrain executed three men, two of whom were Shia activists convicted of terrorism charges and murder. The trial of Ali al-Arab and Ahmed al-Malali has been condemned by human rights experts as a travesty, with allegations of torture and forced confessions. Bahrain’s ...

  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 ...

  The withdrawal of UAE troops from the disastrous war in Yemen is forcing Saudi Arabia to shoulder more of its own burden. There is not likely to be a serious public rift between the UAE and Saudi Arabia; the two still share a common vision of a Gulf region ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As Sri Lanka continues to deal with the fallout from the Easter terrorist attacks, the government is reportedly examining links to Saudi-exported Wahhabism. Authorities are investigating Saudi-funded mosques and foundations to determine what impact the austere brand of Islam pushed by Riyadh is having on ...

  Bottom Line Up Front While the UAE is a close ally of Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi is now seeking to distance itself from Riyadh on critical issues of foreign policy. Following a string of tanker attacks believed to be perpetrated by Iran, the UAE cited a lack of evidence ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Since April, Houthi rebels have conducted at least ten separate missile or drone strikes on Saudi targets, including airports, oil pipelines, and other energy infrastructure. Despite boasting the world’s third largest military budget, the Saudis’ Patriot missile-defense system has performed inconsistently in the face of ...

  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. ...

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 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 ...

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 ...