Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Reforming U.S. Persian Language Media: A Preliminary Assessment

April 2019  •  AFPC Iran Strategy Brief No. 13

In the Spring of 2017, the management of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. government's official coordinating body for international media, approached the American Foreign Policy Council with a request. In response to persistent criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, as well as mounting pressure from the newly-inaugurated Trump administration, the agency sought to commission an independent review of the content of its Persian-language media outreach. Such a process, BBG professionals explained, would help the agency to identify and rectify significant deficiencies at a time when the role of U.S. broadcasting toward the Islamic Republic was a topic of growing scrutiny (and skepticism) among those formulating the country's strategy toward Iran.

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Whatever Happened To The Palestinian Issue?

April 16, 2019  •  Al-Hurra Digital

On April 9th, voters in Israel went to the polls in national elections that had long been anticipated and hotly debated. The vote was a referendum on the tenure of conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is now on track to become the country's longest-serving head of state. It was also a public vetting of sorts for Netanyahu's center-left opposition, headed by retired general Benny Gantz, which was hoping that voters were finally ready for a fresh face to represent Israeli politics. One thing last week's election was definitely not about, however, was the Palestinians. In fact, the question of revived peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, once a top agenda item for virtually all of Israel's political parties, was conspicuously absent from the ballot box – and from the calculus of most voters.

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What Israel's Elections Signify

April 12, 2019  •  The Hill

In Israel's latest national elections on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded in securing a decisive electoral victory despite early returns that indicated he and his conservative Likud party were behind in the polls. In truth, however, Netanyahu's victory was always more likely than not. That's because Israel's political system relies on proportional representation, with the party that secures the most mandates at the polls gaining the power to build a ruling coalition made up of a majority of the 120 seats in Israel's legislature, the Knesset. In this arrangement, smaller parties that successfully surpass the 3.25% vote threshold can serve as kingmakers, helping the dominant faction cobble together a more-or-less durable political bloc. In Tuesday's election, Netanyahu's Likud and the center-left Kachol Lavan (Blue and White) coalition headed by his chief rival, retired general Benny Gantz, initially secured 35 seats apiece (a recount since has given Likud a one seat advantage). But Netanyahu's party was far better positioned to form a ruling government, and by Wednesday the writing was on the wall: The sitting prime minister had managed to secure another term in office.

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Trump's Signal To Tehran

April 9, 2019  •  Radio Farda

The Trump administration is turning up the heat on the ayatollahs. On Monday, April 8th, the White House formally announced that it was adding the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to the State Department's Foreign Terrorist Organization list – putting Iran's clerical army on a par with global terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The move, which formally goes into effect on April 15th, is hardly unprecedented. As the State Department has extensively detailed, Iran consistently ranks as the world's leading state sponsor of international terrorism, and the IRGC is the principal instrument of this malign activity. From direct involvement in numerous acts of terror over the past four decades to the ongoing training of radical proxies like Lebanon's Hezbollah and assorted Shi'ite militias, the IRGC has established itself as a truly global threat actor.

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2020 Presidential Race: Top Democrats Support Iran's Hopes Instead Of Promising Sanctions

March 24, 2019  •  USA Today

Quite suddenly, Iran is emerging as a 2020 election issue. In an already-crowded field of contenders for the Democratic nomination for president, the question of Iran — and specifically, how best to address the country's persistent nuclear ambitions — is steadily rising in prominence. With more and more candidates dipping their toes into the Democratic presidential race, advocacy groups supportive of President Obama's 2015 nuclear deal with Iran — and hostile to the Trump administration's decision to reimpose economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic — are ramping up their lobbying efforts. Middle East news website Al-Monitor reports that one in particular, National Security Action, has circulated a draft memo to all declared Democratic candidates urging them to publicly commit to bringing the United States back into the nuclear deal should they win office. The appeal seems to be working. No fewer than five of the current Democratic contenders — among them Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris — have already promised to revive and preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is formally known, if they are elected. Other Democratic political hopefuls, eager to keep pace with their colleagues and distinguish their own foreign policies from that of President Trump, can be expected to follow suit. That makes the question of America's approach to the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism an unexpected top-tier political issue at home — and a wedge issue abroad.

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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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