Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Peril In Peru
Islamic Terror Shifts South

January 18, 2017  •  Foreign Affairs

It might just be the most important terrorism case you've never heard of. Last fall, prosecutors in the Peruvian capital of Lima launched formal legal proceedings against a 30-year-old alleged Hezbollah operative named Mohammed Hamdar. The trial, now underway, has major regional—indeed, global—implications for the fight against international terrorism. The case dates back to October 2014, when Peruvian police arrested the then-28-year-old Lebanese national in Lima's Surquillo district. When he was apprehended, Hamdar had traces of suspicious chemicals on one of his hands. The same residue was also found in his apartment. He later tested positive for contact with nitroglycerine, a common ingredient in the production of explosives. Additionally, during the course of his subsequent interrogation, he admitted that he was a member of Hezbollah and that the group had asked him to conduct surveillance throughout the country. Peruvian authorities, however, believe that his writ was broader still and that Hamdar was, in fact, casing several soft targets as a prelude to a major terrorist attack—one that may have been timed to coincide with the UN Climate Change Summit, scheduled to take place in Lima later that year. The Hamdar affair is important because it provides proof that Latin American countries are not immune from the threat posed by radical Islamist terrorism. But the case is significant for a broader reason as well. If properly adjudicated, it could supply a powerful precedent that could help spur an expansion of national counterterrorism legislation in Peru and provide a model for other countries in the region in their own dealings with Hezbollah, its chief sponsor Iran, and other radical actors.

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Trump's Arsenal Against Iran

December 29, 2016  •  USA Today

What will the new president do about Iran?

While still on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump railed repeatedly against President Obama's "disastrous" nuclear deal with Iran. He pledged to tear up the agreement, or at least amend it substantially, as one of his first acts in office. Yet, for a host of reasons, the nuclear pact concluded between the Iran and the P5+1 powers (the U.S., U.K., Russia, China, France and Germany) last summer is likely to prove more resilient than either the president-elect or his advisers hope.

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Russia's Fraught Demographic Future

Forthcoming 2017  •  Book chapter in the Jamestown Foundation's volume Russia in Decline

Just how healthy is Vladimir Putin's Russia? To hear the Russian president tell it, his administration has successfully solved the demographic crisis that has bedeviled the Russian state and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, for much of the past century. In December of 2014, Putin used the occasion of a major televised address to the nation to celebrate the "effectiveness" of his government's programs in reversing the country's demographic trajectory.[1] Since then, the official narrative propounded by the Kremlin has been both clear and consistent: thanks to firm leadership, the demographic problems that once plagued Russia and the Soviet Union are now effectively a thing of the past.

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Trump And Iran
What The Next Administration Can Do

November 16, 2016  •  Foreign Affairs

The United States' relationship with Iran tops the list of foreign policy issues that will confront President-elect Donald Trump when he takes office in January. Like many of the other Republican presidential candidates, Trump was an early and staunch opponent of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the controversial nuclear deal concluded last summer between six world powers and Iran. But Trump took up contradictory positions on the deal over the course of his campaign, at times promising to tear it up and at others suggesting he would simply amend it. As Trump readies his administration, he is likely to favor the latter course. For a host of reasons, it may be impractical for his administration to scuttle the agreement outright. Still, there is much that Washington can do with respect to Iran, especially by more rigorously enforcing the nuclear deal and constraining Iranian expansionism.

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Russia's Road To Economic Ruin

November 2, 2016  •

You might not know it, but Russia is losing. The official narrative, promulgated by the Kremlin via its extensive propaganda machine, is that Russia is resurgent on the world stage, and that its status as a global power is increasingly unassailable. Over time, this take has become embraced in official Washington, to the point where it is now more or less conventional wisdom, at least on the presidential campaign trail. The economic indicators, however, suggest something very different. Russia may be making big moves on the world stage, but after two years of U.S. and European sanctions over Ukraine (as well as a sustained dip in the price of world oil), the county's fiscal forecast is bleak–and getting bleaker still. In fact, 2017 could turn out to be a disastrous year for Vladimir Putin's government, unless it fundamentally changes political course.

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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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