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 ...

Five months have passed since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5 over allegations that Doha is supporting terrorism and that it embraces Iran and its regional agenda. The dispute is not only the most significant of its kind ...

As war in Yemen drags on, the people of Yemen are facing severe humanitarian circumstances, with many starving, succumbing to disease, or unable to receive necessary medical supplies. According to Nasser Arrabyee, a Yemeni journalist based in the country’s capital of Sana’a, many Yemenis feel blame their misfortunes on the ...

Billed the “forgotten child” of the Middle East, Yemen is ensnared in a three-year old civil war with no end in sight. Despite haphazard international attempts to mediate a ceasefire, the prospects for reconciliation remain bleak, and Yemeni citizens continue to face a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. All the while, the ...

Civil war in Yemen has dragged on for approximately three years with no end in sight. Forces loyal to Yemeni president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have essentially fought the Iranian-backed Houthi opposition to a stalemate, while a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in ...

The dispute between Qatar and its four regional counterparts – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates – has entered into its fourth month with no end in sight. After severing ties with Qatar, the four Arab countries imposed a blockade on the small Gulf nation and provided ...

The ongoing dispute between Qatar and its neighbors – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – has thrown the U.S. into a difficult situation. U.S. President Donald Trump has reaffirmed his support for Saudi Arabia’s policies, but at the same time has continued to work with Qatar, ...

Well into its fourth month, the tense standoff between Qatar and the four Arab nations that severed diplomatic ties with Doha – Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – shows no signs of resolution, as both sides remain reluctant to earnestly negotiate or offer any concessions. ...

The recent flare-up at the Temple Mount, also known Haram Al Sharif, in Jerusalem reminds American foreign policy makers of the sensitivity of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israel increased security on the Haram Al Sharif last month after a shooting at the holy site left two Israeli policemen dead, prompting protests ...

Before leaving Saudi Arabia last week for a long holiday in Morocco, King Salman issued a decree officially putting his young son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in charge during his absence. Under the Saudi system, that was a routine step because crown princes have often become, in effect, acting ...

Saudi Arabia underwent another dramatic shift in mid-June when Saudi ruler King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud elevated his son, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MbS), to the position of Crown Prince in place of his elder cousin Mohammad bin Nayef (MbN). At first, it appeared that Nayef supported the move when ...

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia recently underwent another dynastic shake-up as Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman supplanted his elder cousin and former Minister of the Interior Mohammed Bin Nayef as Crown prince. The move paves the way for Mohammad bin Salman to further consolidate power and pursue his more ...