Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

Uprising Averted: Iran Completely Shut Down The Internet Within Its Own Borders.

November 27, 2019  •  The National Interest

It is said that in politics, as in warfare, the adversary always gets a vote. Today, there is perhaps no clearer example of this truism than the struggle taking place over Iran's connection to the World-Wide Web. For, even as the Internet has emerged as a crucial medium for expression, politics and coordination among Iran's assorted opposition factions, it has also become a domain that Iran's clerical regime has tried to dominate – with considerable success. Just how much became apparent in mid-November, when a new cycle of unrest precipitated by the Iranian government's decision to significantly hike domestic prices for gasoline rocked the Islamic Republic. Predictably, those "petroleum protests" quickly became a broader outpouring of discontent directed at the Islamic Republic and its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Yet the uprising was quickly defused by the Iranian regime's adroit response, which included a rapid, comprehensive shutdown of Internet access throughout the country. Early on November 17th, the Iranian regime blocked virtually all Web traffic within its national borders and kept it off for nearly a week, until regime security forces had succeeded in sufficiently gaining control of the situation. The online capabilities exhibited by the Iranian regime in recent days aren't, in fact, new. They represent the culmination of a decade of painstaking official investments in suppression technologies and Internet control mechanisms.

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Moscow's Middle East Balancing Act

November 21, 2019  •  Al-Hurra Digital

Suddenly, Russia has emerged as the Middle East's indispensable nation. Over the last few weeks, via a series of shrewd strategic moves, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to exploit new – and unexpected – geopolitical openings in the region, greatly strengthening its regional presence in the process.

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Iran's Economy Is A House Of Cards

November 18, 2019  •  The Hill

Just how durable is the Iranian economy, really? As the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran marks its one-year anniversary, that's the question many policymakers in Washington are asking. Iranian officials have been eager to supply the answer. According to the country's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, U.S. pressure has foundered in the face of Iran's heroic revolutionary resistance. America, Khamenei recently intoned, was deluded in thinking that it "will bring Iran to its knees by focusing on maximum pressure, particularly through economic sanctions." Other top Iranian decisionmakers have said much the same, taking pains to minimize the impact that U.S. pressure has had on the country's economic health. Look a bit closer, however, and it becomes clear that the Islamic Republic is profoundly ailing.

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Iran's Nuclear Brinksmanship Is Bound To Backfire

November 8, 2019  •  Radio Farda

What could Iran's ayatollahs be thinking? On November 5th, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced that his government was planning to restart sensitive nuclear work prohibited under the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). (The regime has since done so, injecting uranium gas into its centrifuges at its nuclear enrichment facility at Fordow.) The step marks the most concrete Iranian move to date to pull out of the JCPOA, which President Trump abandoned last year but which the remaining P5+1 nations (France, Great Britain, Russia, China and Germany) are desperate to see continue. It also reflects an Iranian effort to prompt those countries to put pressure on the United States to roll back its "maximum pressure" campaign against the Iranian regime. But Iran's decision could turn out to be a tremendously costly one for Tehran, for a couple of key reasons.

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ISIS Leader Is Dead, But His Islamic State Terrorist Group Is Alive With Means To Thrive

October 28, 2019  •  USA Today

This weekend's news that Islamic State emir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had killed himself in Syria's Idlib Province while being pursued by U.S. special forces operators is unquestionably a major milestone in the fight against the world's most notorious terrorist group. It also represents an unalloyed political victory for the Trump administration, which has come under fire of late for its decision to draw down the American presence in Syria. Yet, however momentous, Baghdadi's death remains part of a larger struggle. For although ISIS is significantly diminished, it still possesses formidable strategic capabilities and resources that make it an enduring threat to the United States, as well as to America's interests and its regional allies.

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Books by Ilan Berman

Cover of Iran's Deadly Ambition Cover of Implosion Cover of Winning the Long War Cover of Tehran Rising

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