Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Why Iran's Past Nuclear Actions Matter

June 23, 2015  •  The National Interest

It would be fair to say that the past year-and-a-half of nuclear talks with Iran has not been America's finest negotiating hour. But even by the comparatively low standards of U.S. diplomacy to date, the collapse of the American position in recent days has been nothing short of breathtaking. Roughly a week ago, the White House began walking back the dog on the issue of PMDs: the "possible military dimensions" of Iran's nuclear effort that have been carried out so far by the regime in Tehran. That topic has been hotly debated for years, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, has identified nearly a dozen potential PMD activities—ranging from bomb designs to the development of nuclear detonators—that Iran needs to explain fully. So far, however, the Islamic Republic has done nothing of the sort, as the IAEA itself complained publicly back in March. Until very recently, this lapse was considered a very big deal. Just this spring, Secretary of State John Kerry was still insisting that Iran's disclosure of its past military-related atomic activities was an ironclad requirement for any sort of agreement with Tehran. Now, however, America's chief diplomat is singing a decidedly different tune.

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Iran's Various Voices

June 2015  •  AFPC Iran Strategy Brief No. 7

Is the Islamic Republic of Iran a country or a cause? For decades, the question is one that has bedeviled Western observers. Foreign politicians and diplomats long have struggled to reconcile the Iranian regime's radical rhetoric and destructive international behavior with its pragmatic participation in numerous treaty arrangements, and its prominent role in various multilateral forums. The dichotomy has become even more acute over the past two years. Since November of 2013, the Islamic Republic has engaged in extensive diplomacy with the P5+1 powers (the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China, France and Germany) over its nuclear program - a dialogue which, as of this writing, appears likely to result in a political settlement that will be exceedingly favorable to Tehran. Yet the same period has seen a surge in destabilizing global activity instigated or abetted by the Islamic Republic. Indeed, even as it engages in diplomacy with the West regarding its nuclear ambitions, Iran is actively seeking to revise the geopolitical status quo in its favor, both in the Middle East and beyond.

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Turkey's Political Earthquake

June 8, 2015  •

Over the weekend, Turkey experienced something resembling an electoral earthquake, with Sunday's general election yielding an array of unexpected outcomes that suggest a major political reconfiguration lies ahead for the Republic. That has come as something of a surprise. After all, over the past several years, Turkish politics have been nothing if not predictable. Since coming to power in 2002, the country's ruling Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP, has systematically consolidated its political control, in the process moving Turkey ever closer to becoming an authoritarian one-party state. As a result, more than a few seasoned observers concluded that this election, like past ones in 2007 and 2011, was destined to be much ado about nothing. They were wrong, and Sunday's vote instead yielded some surprising and important takeaways.

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Turkey Key To Stopping Flow Of ISIL Recruits

June 3, 2015  •  USA Today

In the frenzied discussions now taking place in Washington about how to prevent the Islamic State terrorist group from making further territorial advances in Iraq and Syria, one topic has been conspicuously absent so far. America's approach to date has focused on drying up the group's finances, and on slowing its march across Iraq through sporadic bombing. As recent days have shown, however, these tactics have met with only marginal success. Left almost entirely unaddressed has been the human dimension of the problem: namely, the militants who make up the Islamic State themselves.

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No Substitute For Seriousness In Iraq

May 28, 2015  •  Washington Times

A recent weekend brought two very different dispatches from the front lines of the global war on terror. The first was a tale of tactical success; the second a narrative of strategic failure. On May 16, a detachment of U.S. special operators carried out a daring nighttime raid against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria. In the process, they killed Abu Sayyaf, a high-level official responsible for overseeing much of the group's oil revenues in Syria. But this good news was counterbalanced by a decidedly less favorable development, and on a much larger scale. Just a day after the Syrian raid, the Islamic State scored a major battlefield victory when it successfully seized control of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's western Anbar province. It did so despite significant opposition from Iraq's military, and in spite of nearly 200 airstrikes carried out there by the United States in preceding days. Washington and its allies, in other words, may be winning battles in the fight against the Islamic State. But they are now in danger of losing the war.

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Books by Ilan Berman

Cover of Implosion Cover of Winning the Long War Cover of Tehran Rising


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