Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

Latest Articles

Prague's Eastward Turn

October 10, 2017  •  U.S. News & World Report

Since its emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union more than a quarter-century ago, the Czech Republic has consistently ranked as a success story of post-totalitarian transition. Unlike that of many of its neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe, Prague's path toward democracy has been more or less linear, cresting in the middle of the last decade when the country garnered the ranking of "full democracy" from the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit. Today, however, Czech democracy is showing signs of erosion, while the country as a whole is in the process of making an alarming eastward turn. Since the democratic high-water mark of 2013, the Czech Republic has retreated on such indicators as social equality, media freedom and political pluralism, and now ranks as a "flawed democracy" by European assessments. This decline corresponds to the rise to power of President Milos Zeman and his center-left Party of Civic Rights.

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Why Trump Will Not Allow The Iran Deal To Stand

September 29, 2017  •  The Hill

Those who support the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran are nervous, and for good reason. In his Sept. 19 address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump gave what was perhaps the clearest signal to date that he has no plans to recertify the agreement (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) next month, as mandated by Congress. Certification of the agreement isn't a condition of the nuclear deal itself. Rather, it's a provision of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) passed by Congress in 2015 in an effort to gain some leverage over the Obama administration's opaque negotiating process with Iran. INARA - or Corker-Cardin, as the legislation is more popularly known - stipulates that the president must confirm to Congress every ninety days that 1) Iran is fully implementing the terms of the JCPOA; 2) the Islamic Republic has not committed a material breach of that agreement; 3) that Iran has not done anything to materially advance its nuclear weapons program; and 4) that continued suspension of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran remains in the national security interests of the United States. Currently, none of these criteria are being satisfied.

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Making Sense Of Russian Strategy In Syria

September 22, 2017  •  Al-Hurra Digital

What shapes Russia's calculus in the Syrian theater? Since its formal decision to intervene in the Syrian civil war in September 2015, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin has become a guarantor of the stability of the Assad regime, as well as a key power broker in any conceivable solution to the ongoing crisis. Yet, two years on, Moscow's motivations for its continued presence in Syria are still not well understood by most observers, either in the Middle East or in the West.

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Common Cause Against The Kurds

August 30, 2017  •  Al-Hurra Digital

An odd partnership is taking shape in the Middle East, where Iran and Turkey - two countries that have historically been strategic competitors - are suddenly making common cause. The development is as unusual as it is significant. As the scholar Daniel Pipes has noted, the relationship between Turkey and Iran might just be the Middle East's most enduring geopolitical rivalry. For hundreds of years, the two countries have competed for - and fought wars over - territory and influence throughout the expanse of the Middle East and Eurasia. Today, despite comparatively robust bilateral trade, that hostility still persists. Iran's leaders are wary of Turkey's role in NATO, and resentful of Ankara's ideological designs on the Caucasus and Central Asia - areas that Tehran itself covets. Turkey, for its part, has watched Iran's growing regional activism with mounting trepidation, even going so far as to recently begin work on a new "security wall" designed to prevent potential Iranian-instigated infiltration across the common border between the two countries. Yet Tehran and Ankara now appear to be drifting into tenuous strategic alignment.

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President Trump Puts Pakistan On Notice In Afghanistan Speech

August 23, 2017  •  USA Today

President Trump's prime time address on Monday did more than simply chart a new course for America's military engagement in Afghanistan. It also marked a fresh approach to one of the most intractable problems that has confronted the United States since the start of the "war on terror": the duplicitous and dangerous role played by the nation of Pakistan.

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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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