This Academic Incubator column is part of a Cipher Brief academic partnership program that presents insights on global security-related issues from the next generation of national security leaders.   Today's author is Jonathan Hoffman, who is a political science Ph.D. student at George Mason University. The conflict in Libya continues to ...

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the ruler of Oman and the Middle East’s longest serving ruler, died on January 10 after nearly 50 years in power.  Oman, under Qaboos rule, transformed from an undeveloped country in the 1970’s, to a country known as ‘the Switzerland of the Middle East’ at the ...

CONVERSATION STARTER -- Few would argue that the January 3 drone strike that killed Iranian General and Quds Force Commander General Qassem Soleimani was a bold move.  The overt nature by which the strike was carried out seemed to offer a clear sign that the US is ready to openly ...

Emile Nakhleh is a retired CIA Senior Intelligence Service Officer and founding director of the CIA’s Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program Office. Nakhleh is currently a Research Professor and Director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico. Since retiring from the government in ...

OPINION -- Ten minutes into President Trump’s speech at his first 2020 presidential re-election campaign rally in Toledo, Ohio, last Friday, he drew great cheers when he said, “If you dare to threaten our citizens, you do so at your own grave peril.” Moments later, Trump brought up the U.S. ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution By Gregory Zuckerman Reviewed by Christopher Messina Messina is an investor and entrepreneur who works in global capital markets, cybersecurity, commodities and technology. He is Co-Founder and CEO of CrowdFill, a next-generation asset trading fintech firm, is ...

The U.S. is considering whether it will expel more than a dozen Saudi Arabian military students after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida last month that killed three people and injured eight others. In the aftermath of the shooting, the Pentagon ordered a review of how DoD ...

TRUSTED SOURCE - In this day of disinformation and facts blending routinely with political opinion and being passed off as objective news, The Cipher Brief is launching a new occasional series called, ‘Trusted Source’ to share tips and insights on where our exclusive group of experts and readers get their ...

OPINION -- As 2019 drew to a close, while foreign adversary leaders such as President Putin, President Xi, and Chairman Kim often attracted the largest amount of media attention, the killing of Iran’s IRGC-Quds Force leader Major-General Qassem Soleimani is worthy of careful attention.  His recent tactical and strategic actions ...

Since his death at the hands of a US drone strike in Baghdad last week, much has been said about Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and his ties to terrorism. Iraq’s Prime Minister claimed that at the time of his death, Soleimani was in the country to take part in indirect ...

In an interview with FOX News after the drone strike that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be,” adding, “The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that ...

Cipher Brief Expert Mark Kelton is a retired senior Central Intelligence Agency executive who retired in 2015 with 34 years of experience in intelligence operations.  He led the Intelligence investigation for the CIA into Edward Snowden's activities once he fled the U.S. in 2013. Speaking in 1978, journalist David Frost wryly ...

The killing of Iranian Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani has drawn sharp condemnation from Iran. American politicians – while agreeing that Soleimani was a threat to Americans - are divided over the wisdom of killing him and over the longer-range consequences. OZY caught up with senior contributor, former CIA Deputy ...

The U.S. targeting and killing of Iranian Quds Force General Qassem Soleimani by a drone strike in Baghdad on Friday has prompted a series of swift statements and actions throughout the Middle East as experts work to anticipate what will follow. The Cipher Brief has spoken with a number of ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Nuclear Spies: America’s Atomic Intelligence Operation against Hitler and Stalin By Vince Houghton Reviewed by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen Rolf Mowatt-Larssen served over three years as the Director of Intelligence and Counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy. Before that, he served 23 years as a CIA intelligence officer ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s new attempt to open strategic nuclear talks with China “ASAP,” as mentioned in a State Department tweet last Friday, focuses on the wrong subject. Any talks about strategic deterrence among nations should be dealing first with the future of cyber warfare and weaponry rather than ...

Patrick Duddy served as the U.S. ambassador to Venezuela from 2007 to 2010.  He is now teaches at Duke University where he is also the director of Duke’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs. As 2019 comes to a close, it is clear the U.S needs to up its ...

OPINION -- As the Middle East bids farewell to 2019 and welcomes the new year, the peoples of the region have precious little to celebrate. Young and old — Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Kurds, and Israelis — view the coming year with trepidation, growing uncertainty, and a deepening mistrust of their ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Progress and Challenges in German Reunification The author is Claire Greenstein, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow, ...

Cipher Brief expert Robert Dannenberg is a 24-year veteran of the CIA, where he served in several senior leadership positions, including chief of operations for the Counterterrorism Center, chief of the Central Eurasia Division and chief of the CIA’s Information Operations Center.  Post CIA, he worked as Chief of Global ...

BOOK REVIEW: Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II By Henry Hemming  Reviewed by Jason U. Manosevitz The reviewer is an Intelligence Community officer with 16 years of experience analyzing military and political issues in East Asia ...

OPINION -- “The function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” Walter Lippmann wrote in his 1925 book, Public Opinion. In the Trump era, officials and legislators are ...

As the U.S. continues to announce new sanctions aimed at Iran, there are some signs that indicate the U.S. policy of applying maximum pressure on Iran is working.  Or is it?    Tehran released Princeton University scholar Xiyue Wang this month after holding him for more than three years as ...

The Gray Zone is that place between war and peace where actors use a range of elements at their disposal to effect outcome.  We see it in everyday operations like disinformation and election interference or in using economic means to coerce an outcome.  China and Russia have been big fans ...

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 ...

EXPERT OPINION -- Kim Jong-un is a desperate man. He has long believed that Donald Trump’s unpredictability and their quirky friendship offers him the best, and possibly only, chance of a deal with the United States whereby he could keep some of his nuclear capability and gain a substantial measure ...

OPINION -- It has been several years since I thought deeply about Syria. And that is a shame, given my long time affection for the Syrian people, whom I grew to know and love after several decades working on Near Eastern issues at CIA. Syria came crashing back for me ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. OPINION -- North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is getting bad advice from his senior advisers. Rather than pursuing closer relations with the United States, North Korea is in the process of unraveling a close ...

A date for Washington-Moscow nuclear arms control discussions could emerge from today’s Washington meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- first with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, if all goes well, later with President Trump. From Trump’s point of view, raising the long-awaited possibility of extending the current ...

In a declaration issued at the conclusion of last week’s NATO meeting in London, leaders agreed on continuing support for the alliance and they laid out a range of actions that NATO must undertake to address future threats.  “We are addressing the breadth and scale of new technologies to maintain ...

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established in April 1949 with the goal of deterring Soviet expansionism and to move European nations closer to the United States in a collective defense posture that would prevent another World War.  12 nations initially signed on. As you can imagine, all of ...

This Academic Incubator column is part of an academic partnership with the Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presenting regular expert commentary on global security-related issues by faculty, fellows, and students. Disruptive Technologies in Operational Energy usage: Programmatic and Technological Path-dependence The author is Ms. ...

There is little argument that the 70-year-old NATO Alliance today finds itself in one of the most complicated security environments it has ever seen. China and Russia continue to pose significant challenges, the fast-paced development of new technology is adding borderless perimeters that must be defended and the organization is ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip Breedlove (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What needs ...

As NATO members meet in London this week, The Cipher Brief tapped former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) to help cut through some of the rhetoric and understand the Alliance’s strategic importance today to both the U.S. and its allies. The Cipher Brief:  What's your ...

BOOK REVIEW:  Hunting the Caliphate: America's War on ISIS and the Dawn of the Strike Cell By Dana J.H. Pittard and Wes J. Bryant Reviewed by Brian Raymond Brian Raymond served as National Security Council Director for Iraq from 2014-2015. He participated in numerous meetings with President Obama in the ...

The Commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, General Kenneth F. McKenzie, recently warned that the presence of an additional 14,000 U.S. troops sent to the Persian Gulf region over the past several months likely has not deterred Iranian efforts to launch future attacks there. General McKenzie highlighted the ...

OPINION -- Many in the United States and China believe that we’re in a cold war and that conflict is inevitable. If true, that would be tragic not only for the United States and China, but for the world. More must be done now to ensure that this does not happen; that U.S.-China ...

BOOK REVIEW: Madame Fourcade’s Secret War:  The Daring Young Woman Who Led France’s Largest Spy Network Against Hitler By Lynne Olson Reviewed by Rick Ledgett Rick Ledgett served as the Deputy Director of the National Security Agency from January 2014 until his retirement in April 2017, culminating a nearly 40-year career ...

OPINION – It was supposed to be Senate confirmation hearing for Stephen E. Biegun to be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State, but really, it was President Trump’s Foreign Policy that was on trial in Washington last week. “This administration’s actions have undermined our ability to promote American foreign policy ...

Nine American women and children were killed by suspected drug cartel members in an attack in northern Mexico earlier this month, refocusing attention on the country’s long-standing drug and corruption issues. While hundreds of Mexicans die each year as the result of drug violence, this particular attack gained enormous attention ...

Mike Vigil is the former Chief of International Operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He is one of the most highly decorated agents within the agency. He is the author of DEAL and Metal Coffins: The Blood Alliance Cartel and Narco Queen. The Cipher Brief:  What should we be paying attention to given the current ...

It is no secret that Hermione revealed that the basilisk traveled via the pipes in the second installment of the Harry Potter series. When I began my consulting career with the National Communications System (NCS) and cybersecurity became the sexy cousin, the communications muggles liked to remind the cyber wizards ...

OPINION -- American foreign policy has faded into a confusing and dangerous blur as a result of mismanagement, flip-flopping objectives, political turmoil in Washington and an understaffed and demoralized State Department. On issue after issue, it is impossible to discern a coherent strategy or an achievable goal. This is not just ...

BOOK REVIEW: Life Undercover: Coming of Age in the CIA  By Amaryllis Fox Reviewed by Suzanne Kelly Suzanne Kelly is CEO & Publisher of The Cipher Brief. She previously served as an Intelligence Correspondent and Executive Producer for CNN. Prior to that, she was a freelance anchor for CNN International ...

As street protests continue unabated in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Algeria, and other Middle Eastern countries, regimes have used the social media platforms and traditional media to track, control, and repress their citizens. Iran has shut down the Internet and other digital platforms. Since traditional media and journalism outlets, especially newspapers ...

OPINION -- Donald Trump as president displays weakness toward those he envies as strong foreign leaders, while he acts like a bully toward leaders he considers less powerful than himself.  Those contrasting natures were on full display last Wednesday. At the same time Trump was offering unwarranted concessions to Turkish ...

OPINION -- Events in Washington last week were gut-wrenching for many, not least for America’s Foreign Service and the two million other public servants of the United States. They were also inspiring and cause for much pride. At present, the House of Representatives impeachment hearings are largely driven not by ...

TV SERIES REVIEW: The SPY A Netflix Miniseries Reviewed by Paul Kolbe Paul Kolbe is Director of The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.  Kolbe also led BP’s global Intelligence and Analysis team supporting threat warning, risk mitigation, and crisis response.  Prior to that, ...

OPINION -- It is common for the leadership of the Intelligence Community to send notes to the workforce. The leaderships’ thoughts on all sorts of issues – from intelligence successes and failures to key personnel assignments and critical budget decisions and, yes, sometimes when the IC appears in the media ...