Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Morocco And The Normalization Question

November 11, 2020  •  Al-Hurra Digital

Will they or won't they? Since the start of the "normalization" wave this summer, speculation has abounded as to whether other regional nations would follow the lead of the UAE and Bahrain (and now Sudan) and establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. President Trump has expressed confidence that quite a few countries will do so in coming weeks.   The Kingdom of Morocco ranks prominently on the list of prospective peace partners. At first blush, the North African nation seems like a natural candidate for "normalization" with Israel. The two countries share major civilizational links – some 10 percent of Israel's population of 9.1 million is estimated to be of Moroccan descent, and many travel back to the Kingdom regularly. Moreover, the Moroccan government has established a vibrant political dialogue with the Jewish state in recent decades, albeit unofficially. As part of that alignment, Morocco has taken a leading role in promoting education about the Holocaust in the Arab World, and trade between the two countries has flourished.   Yet the Kingdom's calculus is complicated by a number of considerations.

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Will Biden Pivot On Iran?

November 9, 2020  •  Newsweek

How will a Biden administration handle the Middle East? Now that the results of the hotly contested U.S. election are (mostly) known, foreign policy experts and officials alike are turning their attention to that question. Over the coming weeks and months more particulars will emerge, as will the personalities who will be tasked with managing one of the world's most volatile regions. Even before then, however, it is clear that one issue will be of overriding importance in shaping the complexion of the Middle East in the years ahead—as well as America's standing in it. It is the one issue where Biden's approach differs most greatly from the one adopted to date by the Trump administration. That issue is Iran.

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America's Iran Policy Heads Toward A Crossroads

October 23, 2020  •  Al-Hurra Digital

With the U.S. election around the corner, the contours of a second term Trump Iran policy – or a first term Biden approach – are already coming into view. Since 2016, the Trump administration has made reversing its predecessor's line toward the Islamic Republic a centerpiece of its Mideast agenda. Over the past two-and-a-half years, the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign has jettisoned the 2015 nuclear deal known as the JCPOA (under which the Iranian regime received a massive financial windfall in exchange for temporary constraints on its nuclear development), and leveled a broad campaign of economic pressure at the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism. The results have been profound. Today, Iran's radical regime is in dire financial straits – and its hold on power is increasingly fragile. The numbers indicate just how much. Iran's oil revenues, which totaled $100 billion in 2018, plummeted to just $8 billion last year, as skittish clients fearful of U.S. sanctions increasingly disengaged from the Islamic Republic. That trend, moreover, is accelerating. Earlier this month, Majid Reza Hariri, the chairman of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce, outlined in an interview that the regime's oil revenue (which represents a significant part of the national economy) will be "at best $5 billion" this year. Such a decline could very well end up being nothing short of catastrophic for Iran's already unpopular rulers. That increasingly desperate position is a big reason why the Iranian regime acquiesced this summer to a sweeping new strategic accord with the People's Republic of China. If fully realized, the quarter-century, $400 billion deal will make the PRC a major stakeholder in the Islamic Republic – and do so at the expense of Iranian sovereignty. The arrangement is a telling reflection of the increasingly desperate domestic situation now confronting the regime in Tehran. Whichever candidate perseveres in next month's presidential election will inherit this dynamic. The operative question is: what will they do with it?

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Charting China's Plummeting Popularity Around The World

October 14, 2020  •  The Washington Times

There's simply no denying it any longer: Beijing has an image problem. Half a year into the coronavirus pandemic, traditional views of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as a constructive global actor have plummeted precipitously around the world, while suspicions about China's strategic intentions are on the rise. That's the main finding of a new poll just released by the prestigious Pew Research Center. The study, which surveyed global attitudes about China in 14 separate nations between June and August of this year, paints a picture of an international environment that is increasingly opposed to Chinese government policies and hostile to Beijing's global overtures.

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Beijing's Terrifying Repression Campaigns

September 24, 2020  •  Newsweek

China is fast transforming into the global epicenter of totalitarian terror. Over the past several years, the world has watched in growing horror as news has trickled out about the massive campaign of repression being waged by the Chinese government in its western province of Xinjiang. That offensive—aimed at the region's Uighur Muslim minority—includes the mass internment and "reeducation" of millions, forced sterilization of Uighur women, large-scale slave labor and other policies intended to fundamentally disrupt social and cultural order in the province, and to subjugate it fully to the will of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). What is overlooked all too often, however, is that the atrocities being visited upon Xinjiang are not unique. Nor are they an isolated incident brought about by extenuating circumstances. They are, rather, part of a larger political strategy—one that is being ruthlessly implemented at home by the CCP and has profound implications for the rest of the world.

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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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