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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Iran’s recent responses to U.S. pressure, including to the UK-led seizure of a Syria-bound Iranian oil tanker, have brought the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal to the brink of collapse. The UK and other European countries still seek to de-escalate tensions and avoid a U.S.-Iran military ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Following months of fighting, Sudan’s current ruling military government and the political opposition have forged a power-sharing agreement.  What happens next in Sudan will depend in large part on the rivalries and divisions that characterize the current regime, which is far from a monolith. One ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran have now returned to the core issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent actions, including violating terms of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, are intended to make the Trump administration pay a price for its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. ...

When he became Secretary of Defense in early 2001, Donald Rumsfeld publicly expressed his concern about the inevitability of surprise. He often reminded other officials that “The only surprising thing is that we continue to be surprised when a surprise occurs.” Secretary Rumsfeld was fond of sharing the celebrated strategist ...

  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 ...

From The Cipher Brief's Open Source Collection newsletter, U.S. officials and Cipher Brief experts are warning U.S. businesses to remain vigilant as tensions between Iran and the U.S. continue.  Christopher Krebs, director of DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued a warning over the weekend that “malicious cyberactivity” was on the ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. and Iran are close to a conflict that would have no clear end and could quickly spread throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iran has acquired leverage by building proxies and allies into politico-military forces, arming them with short-range missiles, rockets, and other ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: In recent weeks, peaceful demonstrators in Hong Kong have gathered in large numbers to protest a controversial extradition bill with Mainland China. Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam has indefinitely suspended the bill but recently ignored protesters’ demands to withdraw the bill completely. Since 1997, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front For the first time since 2001, there might be meaningful Congressional oversight over the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). From a legal standpoint, the U.S. has relied on the 2001 AUMF for nearly all of its military engagements in the post-9/11 era. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Shortly after being released from prison, Seuxis Pausias Hernandez, a former commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was sworn in as a member of Colombia’s congress. The transformation from rebel leader to politician was enabled by a 2016 accord between Bogota and ...

Bottom Line Up Front Last week, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be deploying an additional 1,000 troops to Poland. The deployment is reflective of the changing nature of U.S. alliances in Europe, with non-traditional allies growing much closer to the U.S. over the past two decades. The current ...

A spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from the deal in May of 2018.    Also on Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sent a warning to his ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On June 13, two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman were damaged by apparent sabotage, as explosions ripped through the side of the ships. The U.S. has publicly blamed Iran for the attacks, as well as for similar incidents in May. American allies have ...

In the midst of recent escalatory statements and actions between the U.S. and Iran, a spokesman for the Iranian atomic agency said Monday that within 10 days, the country will pass the allowed limit for low-grade uranium enrichment under the nuclear deal struck in 2015. The U.S. walked away from ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: The U.S. Congress was recently notified about a potential arms sale between the U.S. and Taiwan, estimated at close to $2 billion. Beijing has expressed serious concern about the deal, claiming that it violates the ‘One-China’ policy that Washington has agreed to uphold. The arms ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is continuing to pressure the E.U. about defense spending, continuing a trend that has stretched back through previous administrations. The E.U. has established two military platforms for E.U. member states aimed at increasing domestic security as well as various domestic defense industries. The ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. government has confirmed that it repatriated eight U.S. citizens—two women and six children—who were with the Islamic State in Syria. The eight had been held by Syrian Kurdish forces, part of the tens of thousands of former Islamic State militants and family members ...

President Trump took to Twitter this week, tweeting, "Hearing word that Russia, Syria and, to a lesser extent, Iran, are bombing the hell out of Idlib Province in Syria, and indiscriminately killing many innocent civilians. The World is watching this butchery. What is the purpose, what will it get you? ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Last week, members of the Afghan Taliban along with Afghan politicians and power brokers met in Moscow to discuss the contours of a potential peace deal for the war-ravaged country. Representing the Taliban was one of the group’s original co-founders, Abdul Ghani Baradar, who offered ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Just last week, seven members of the so-called Islamic State, all of them from France, were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. Many Western countries have refused to take back citizens who traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State. An estimated ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Toward the end of May, John Walker Lindh was released from U.S. federal prison after serving 17 years of a sentence stemming from ten charges related to terrorism. At least 90 more terror-related offenders will be released in the United States over the next five ...

  On May 10, 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a raise in tariffs on Chinese imports from 10 to 25%, further escalating the ongoing trade dispute with Beijing. The hike in tariffs came as a surprise as both the U.S. and China had been raising expectations in early May ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is threatening the E.U. over the latter’s initiatives to increase member defense spending and cooperation. Washington objects to conditions in the European Defense Fund and Permanent Structured Cooperation on Defence and Security that restrict non-E.U. participation. The U.S. is stressing the issue as ...

Bottom Line Up Front The Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies are making moves to retake Idlib from the last remaining pocket of rebel fighters holed up in the province. A combination of Russian airpower and Syrian Army ground forces have moved aggressively to retake sections of southwestern ...

It’s been a week of escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran, beginning on Monday with reporting by The New York Times that senior U.S. leaders were reviewing plans to send as many as 120,000 U.S. troops to the region, in the event that Iran launches attacks against U.S. interests, ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Most states, particularly those in the West, have refused to repatriate their citizens who joined the Islamic State and who now reside in crowded camps. Thousands of Islamic State family members are being held in the al Hol Camp in Syria, living in fetid conditions ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov covered a wide range of issues, including arms control, the situation in Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, to name a few.  The Cipher Brief reached out to expert, Robert Dannenberg, a 24-year veteran of the ...

Tuesday’s meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi, Russia, was the result of a recent phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.  According to Lavrov, both heads of state directed to their subordinates to intensify the ...

OPINION -- There was a flurry of arms control talk after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration is “at the very beginning of conversations about renewing” the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).  He made the comments during testimony April 10, before the Senate ...

There are multiple international dynamics at play in Venezuela this week, particularly between the U.S., which is supporting the uprising of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, and Russia, a supporter of the government of Nicolas Maduro.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a strong and unusually public allegation this week ...

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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. and the Taliban will soon resume talks in Doha, Qatar, as the peace process moves forward but without significant input from the Afghan government. Peace talks are primarily centered around two issues: a Taliban pledge not to harbor international terrorist groups and the ...

  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 ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. is continuing its aggressive campaign against the growing influence of Chinese telecom giant Huawei as countries move toward 5G infrastructure. Particularly noteworthy is the adoption of Huawei infrastructure by ‘Five Eyes’ countries, America’s closest and most trusted allies in information sharing and intelligence ...

  Bottom Line Up Front In December 2018, the U.S. announced it would look to end its support for‘unproductive, unsuccessful and unaccountable U.N. peacekeeping missions.’ The U.S. funds approximately 28% of the U.N. peacekeeping operations, which consist of 14 operations involving over 100,000 personnel. Washington objects to operations with no ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On March 6, Meng Wanzhou, CFO of the Chinese tech company Huawei, had an extradition hearing in Canada where she is being held on charges of fraud. Her case is a legal one but still tied to broader geopolitical implications between the U.S. and China ...

  Bottom Line Up Front: The second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, held on February 28, produced no substantial outcomes in the goal of denuclearizing North Korea. Another state with significant stakes in the North Korean crisis is China, who is closely ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The announced resignation of Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, reflects a growing domestic power struggle over the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement. The resignation, which President Hassan Rouhani rejected, could have been an effort to appease hardliners critical of Iran’s continued adherence to the agreement. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Between 2009 and 2018, 73.3% of all domestic extremist-related killings have been perpetrated by right-wing extremists. On February 15, authorities arrested an active duty Coast Guard lieutenant who had plotted to kill Democratic politicians and members of the media. By every metric, right-wing extremism is ...

  Bottom Line Up Front As the last territory held by the so-called Islamic State is reclaimed, the issue of what to do with returning foreign fighters and their families is vexing the international community. The U.K. is considering stripping one of its citizens, Shamima Begum of her citizenship, and ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The U.S. has enacted sanctions against Venezuela’s national oil company as well as against embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s inner circle. Washington has made several public overtures for Maduro to step aside, while Moscow and Beijing have firmly opposed anything resembling regime change. Aid has become ...

  Bottom Line Up Front On February 18, Pakistan-based militants killed four Indian soldiers during a raid in Kashmir, just days after 40 Indian soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing. The suicide bombing was the worst in decades in the region and has derailed already tense relations between New ...

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 ...

Fresh off the heels of the Munich security conference, a rift remains between the U.S. and its allies over their approach to 5G networks and managing the potential national security risks of allowing Chinese vendors to participate in the development of the technology.   The U.S. has been working to ...

OPINION -- Two senior U.S. military commanders in the Indo-Pacific area this week questioned whether North Korea would ever denuclearize, just 12 days before the next scheduled summit in Hanoi between President Donald Trump and North Korean Chairman Kim Jong-un. While Trump has repeatedly said that "things are going very well ...

  Bottom Line Up Front At the end of February, U.S. President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will meet in Vietnam following up last June’s Singapore summit. The second meeting occurs amidst both positive and negative developments between the countries. Tensions between North Korea and the U.S. ...

  Bottom Line Up Front The 40thanniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution finds the country in a stronger regional position than at any time since the 1979 revolution. The Trump Administration’s re-imposition of U.S. sanctions has failed to isolate Iran internationally, but it has damaged Tehran’s economy. Iran’s continued compliance with ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Even as President Trump occasionally mocks the science underpinning global warming, the trend lines show an undeniable and intensifying climate change. Researchers are studying melting glaciers in Antarctica and the Himalayas; environmental changes in these two regions will drastically impact the planet. By the time ...

A hundred years from now historians will write that one of America’s greatest contributions to the world was the Internet. Though other countries and foreign citizens contributed to the effort, U.S. government funding and American academics and technologists created the Internet. As U.S. dependence on the Internet for our economic ...