Bottom Line Up Front The spread of coronavirus is compounding the well-known problems faced by Middle East governments and societies. The coronavirus crisis could become particularly acute in conflict-ravaged countries where governance is already weak or absent. The decision by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman to try to ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The relationship between the United States and China continues to deteriorate as fallout from the coronavirus (COVID-19) fundamentally alters geopolitics, economics, and society writ large. Chinese diplomats have been spreading conspiracy theories, false rumors, and deliberate disinformation that the United States was somehow responsible for ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Lethal attacks on U.S. troops by Iran-backed Iraqi militias in March 2020 demonstrate that Iran continues to retaliate for the January U.S. killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani. The continued attacks suggest that Iran, contrary to Trump administration claims, is not deterred by the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Protests in Colombia, South America’s oldest democracy, have been relatively under reported upon in the international media. The protesters are motivated by a desire to achieve economic and social justice for segments of Colombian society that have long been ignored. There is some evidence that ...

  Bottom Line Up Front There are still questions surrounding the recent U.S.-Taliban agreement, including how Washington can pressure the Taliban to fulfill the key tenets of the deal, as well as what the U.S. strategy is for supporting the Afghan government. External actors, including the UAE and elements in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Countries are struggling to counter the spread of the coronavirus respiratory disease, while also trying to figure out how to navigate a range of political, economic, and logistical challenges. High levels of distrust that populations in authoritarian countries have toward their governments will, at least ...

  Bottom Line Up Front China has long engaged in a spying campaign against the United States—from cyber espionage and stealing intellectual property to subtle attempts to infiltrate research laboratories at American universities. According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Beijing is quietly at work gaining access to the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Over the weekend, the United States and the Afghan Taliban, also referred to as the Quetta Shura Taliban, reached an agreement to move toward ending the nearly two-decade long conflict. One of the key tenets of the agreement is that the Taliban will prevent Al ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran-backed Shia militias in Iraq remain active despite the assassination of their Iranian mentor and the leading Iraqi militia commander. New Iraqi figures are emerging to fill the vacuum left by Kata’ib Hezbollah commander Abdul Mahdi Al Muhandis. The Iraqi militias and their political leaders ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s hardliners are likely to prevail in February 21, 2020 parliamentary elections. Regime hardliners have used their available levers of power to exclude critics and moderate elements from running. The turnout will be a barometer of the regime’s efforts to shape the election to its ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Iranian regime is using all elements of state power to suppress organized dissent, including widespread arrests and the use of force against demonstrators. The regime’s long record of human rights abuses has been consistently abysmal, while its suppression of political and economic dissent has ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Islamic State in Greater Sahara (ISGS) is now seen by France and Sahelian countries as the greatest security threat in West Africa. Reports about a drawdown of U.S. troops in West Africa and ISGS’s growing strength have led France and some countries in the region, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At the end of 2019, more than 16% of Venezuela’s population have fled the country, an astonishing 4.7 million people. Venezuelans are fleeing at a more rapid rate than Syrians were escaping the civil war at the peak of that conflict, and an estimated 6.5 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Europe’s use of the formal dispute resolution provision of the Iran nuclear deal is a consequence of the Trump administration’s abandonment of the deal in 2018. The Europeans have made clear that invoking the dispute mechanism does not imply that they will join the Trump ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran has experienced intermittent periods of unrest in the decades since its Islamic Revolution of 1979, but the situation unfolding in early 2020 is exceptional. Dispatches from the protests suggest that Iranians believe that the highest levels of the government are responsible and must be ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Somalia, is resurging again and demonstrating the ability to launch attacks with impunity. Since March 2017, al-Shabaab has launched close to 900 attacks on civilians and hundreds more against U.S., Somali, and Kenyan troops.  Al-Shabaab controls vast swaths of ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Early this week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr labeled the December 6 shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola as an act of terrorism. The attack, which killed three and injured eight, was conducted by Saudi citizen Mohammed Alshamrani, who was in Pensacola for military training. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani and the Iranian response that targeted Iraqi bases, the possibility of a conventional war between the United States and Iran seems to have diminished. Despite the decreasing tensions, both Washington and Tehran are likely to engage in asymmetric ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran responded to the death of IRGC-QF Major General Qassim Soleimani by launching nearly two dozen ballistic missiles at Iraqi bases where American troops are stationed. On January 8, U.S. President Donald Trump announced further sanctions against Iran but also suggested that ‘the United States ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A key Iranian response to the U.S. strike that killed Qods Force Commander Qasem Soleimani will be to try to permanently oust the 6,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Iraq. Iran has already put to use a combination of its military and political levers in ...

  Bottom Line Up Front A U.S. strike that killed the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force, IRGC Major General Qassem Soleimani, and the founder of the pro-Iranian Iraqi militia Kata’ib Hezbollah, represents a major escalation of U.S. conflict with Iran. The strike appeared to represent direct ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The December 29 U.S. strike on the Iran-backed Kata’ib Hezbollah (KAH) militia in Iraq represented the first kinetic U.S. response to Iranian provocations that began in May. The U.S. strike, although provoked by a KAH rocket attack that killed a U.S. defense contractor, has harmed ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line up Front Iran is pursuing a variety of methods in an effort to preserve its influence in Iraq and Lebanon in the face of protests against existing power structures. Iran’s allies in both countries include technocrats who might satisfy popular demands for competent governance while maintaining ties ...

Bottom Line Up Front Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy for reconciliation in Afghanistan, recently returned to Kabul to jumpstart political negotiations with the Taliban. Talks are currently inching toward a ceasefire, though an agreement on the specifics has yet to be reached. One of the most significant variables impacting the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front U.S.-Iran tensions are escalating again after three months of relative stability. U.S. officials report that Iran is resupplying its allies and proxies in Yemen and in Iraq with increasingly sophisticated short-range missile equipment. U.S. commanders cite the Iranian military movements as evidence that Iran might ...

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 The release of a trove of Chinese government documents offers close insight into a vast campaign of incarceration, intimidation, and abuse of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province. China has relied heavily on emerging technology and artificial intelligence to track, monitor, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Earlier in the week, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi, Russia, where the two leaders negotiated the contours of a post-American Syria. While Moscow is one of the clear winners of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria, there ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the United States continues its hasty withdrawal from Syria, Russia has consolidated immense leverage in the country. Acting as Assad’s air force, Russia has helped to reverse the regime’s territorial losses, committing war crimes by targeting civilians and hospitals. Given the recent U.S. withdrawal ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On October 9, Turkey launched a cross-border offensive into northern Syria using airstrikes, artillery bombardments, and a ground invasion against Kurdish positions. The United States and Turkey have never agreed on Washington’s strategy of fighting the Islamic State by arming the Kurds. The abrupt decision ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Assad regime again demanded the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and Turkish troops from Syria, labeling them ‘occupying forces.’ Meanwhile, the United States and Turkey are finalizing a so-called safe zone along Turkey’s eastern border with Syria, which will introduce ancillary issues. The U.S. continues ...

  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 On the heels of its suspension from the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program, Turkey is now reportedly considering joint development of its own fighter jet with Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin seized the suspension as an opportunity for Russia to capitalize on Turkey’s rift with ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Upcoming Russian-Iranian naval drills put Moscow clearly on the side of Tehran in the crisis unfolding between the United States and Iran. The Trump administration’s policy of 'maximum pressure’ will continue to drive Iran closer to U.S. adversaries and critics, particularly Russia. The emerging Iranian-Russian ...

  Bottom Line Up Front America’s longest war - soon approaching its 18th year in Afghanistan - is not over although it may be entering a new phase. The potential U.S.-Taliban deal comes at a time of maximum leverage for the Taliban, which controls more territory in 2019 than at ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Early this week, the G7 countries concluded several days of meetings in Biarritz, France. U.S. President Donald Trump has been clear about his desire that Russia be readmitted into the group, although European leaders have taken a harder line. Europe has continued to demonstrate crucial ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Turkey’s Defense Ministry claims that earlier this week, a Turkish convoy was bombed in Idlib province in northwest Syria. There have been ongoing clashes between Assad’s regime and fighters from the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA). Idlib, the last rebel stronghold in Syria, is a ...

  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 On August 8, the United Nations released a new report that details accelerating climate change and its negative impact on global food supplies. A major second-order effect of climate change is an increase in migration, as individuals seek to relocate in hopes of escaping poverty, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Amidst escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf, officials from the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) recently met with their counterparts in Iran to discuss maritime security. Both the United States and the United Kingdom are exploring potential options to increase maritime security in the Gulf. Unlike ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Several high-level reports published over the past few weeks reiterate what most terrorism and security analysts have been saying for months—the so-called Islamic State (IS) is alive and well in Iraq and Syria. Over the past several months, IS has waged a campaign of assassinations, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The Persian Gulf remains a potential flashpoint as the United States and its allies increase their deployments and Iran strengthens its defense posture. Iran's seizure of another Gulf oil tanker in early August demonstrates Tehran's confidence in its strategic position throughout the region. The muted ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On July 22, 2019, China issued a new defense white paper titled China's National Defense in the New Era. The white paper stresses China's ‘peaceful intentions’ and focuses on defensive capabilities while affirming the Communist Party's stance on Taiwan and acknowledging the increasing strategic rivalry ...

This weekend’s back to back shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio highlight, in the deadliest way, growing concerns that the U.S. is fighting its own extremism problem. As authorities look into the motives in both attacks, we must act promptly to thwart future attacks.  Here’s how we can ...

  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 Pakistani authorities have arrested Hafiz Saeed, founder of the terrorist group LeT and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Pakistan outlawed LeT in 2002, although the group continues to operate with the assistance of elements of the Pakistani security services.  New Prime Minister Imran Khan ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: In July 2019, China conducted joint military exercises with two European powers, Germany and France. Through Chinese president Xi Jinping’s signature policy, the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing is seeking to expand its economic and political influence abroad. Although China touts BRI as an economic ...