Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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Syria And The Trump-Putin Parlay

July 13, 2018  •  Al-Hurra Digital

On July 16th, President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in what is shaping up to be a highly anticipated – and highly controversial – bilateral summit. The meeting agenda is full of strategically vital topics, ranging from Russia's interference in the 2016 elections (and its anticipated meddling in the upcoming U.S. midterms this Fall) to the Kremlin's ongoing campaign of aggression against Ukraine. But as concerns the Middle East, the most important subject to be discussed by the two leaders is undoubtedly Syria.

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Optimizing America's Outreach Toward Iran

June 28, 2018  •  The Washington Times

America's Iran policy is at a crossroads. In the wake of President Trump's recent decision to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal, his administration has unveiled a new, more muscular approach toward the Islamic Republic. That plan, announced publicly by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21, has garnered extensive scrutiny for its pledge to reimpose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic for its nuclear and ballistic missile work, and its vow to roll back Iran's extensive influence in Syria. By contrast, another element of the administration's strategy has received far less attention: Its reinvigorated commitment to engage with the Iranian people. Yet such a focus is needed now more than ever, because Iran's clerical regime is currently facing unprecedented challenges to its stability.

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How The Kremlin Exploits Counterterrorism

June 20, 2018  •  The National Interest

Just how effective is the Kremlin's counterterrorism strategy? Russia's leaders have long extolled the proactive measures taken by the country's assorted security services to keep its citizens safe from extremist elements, and periodic skirmishes between police and Islamic radicals continue to take place throughout the Federation. But the actual impact of Russia's anti-terror efforts remains largely unverified. That's the conclusion of a recent expose from Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia's last remaining independent newspapers. According to the study, while Russia's numerous and overlapping security agencies "regularly report" on the effectiveness of the measures taken by their departments, "it is not possible to verify all this information for the most part." That is because, "with rare exceptions," the names of those who either attempt or actually commit terrorist acts are withheld from the public. Similarly, "with few exceptions, nothing is known about the trials of the defendants . . . or about the sentences passed." The result is that the true state of Russia's security environment is opaque—and the Kremlin's depiction of it deeply unreliable.

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New Report: Iran's Influence In Syria Far Broader Than Commonly Understood

May 31, 2018  •  Tablet

Just how deep does Iran's influence run in Syria? After a half decade of overt and covert Iranian military assistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the Iranian regime is widely understood to be playing a key role in the Syrian theater. But, according to a new study from the Omran Center for Strategic Studies, an Istanbul-based think tank focused on the Syrian conflict, this backing is far broader than commonly understood, and encompasses not just military assistance but also an extensive web of economic and political contacts that are designed to give the Iranian regime a lasting presence on the territory of its top regional ally. "Iranian influence in Syria is often reduced to its military support," the study notes. However, "Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its auxiliary institutions not only provided military and financial support to the Syrian regime but have expanded their administrative and economic activities in Syria by infusing their institutions within the Armed Forces, service-delivery ministries, local political and armed bodies, and non-governmental organizations." The results, the Omran Center report outlines, are extensive – and dramatic.

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The Islamic State Attacks Indonesia—And Its 'Middle Way'

May 30, 2018  •  The Weekly Standard

Earlier this month, after experiencing a long hiatus from violent extremism, Indonesia succumbed anew to Islamist terrorism when a family of suicide bombers struck three different churches in the country's second-largest city, Surabaya. The coordinated attacks during Sunday services on May 13 killed at least 12. The following day, another family of extremists attacked Surabaya's police headquarters, wounding 10. The Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility for both attacks. Beyond the horrifying particulars, which involved the use of children as young as eight, the attacks signal a broader intent: ISIS has chosen to declare war on Indonesia's "middle way" of Islamic culture.

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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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