Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

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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Beware Iran's Jihadi Legion

August 14, 2017  •  Al-Hurra Digital

Today, the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group has become a top strategic priority of the United States and its allies in the region. In turn, the efforts of Washington and Middle Eastern partners have begun to pay real dividends, with recent months seeing a significant rollback the group's self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. But lurking in the background of the current counterterrorism fight is another, and potentially even more significant, long-term threat. Since its rise to prominence in 2014, one of the Islamic State's most striking - and formidable - features has been its ability to inspire and attract disaffected extremists to its cause. Experts estimate that, to date, the group has drawn some 32,000 radicals from the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and beyond to its nascent state. Thanks to the influx of these foreign extremists, Syria has steadily transformed into a training ground for today's terrorists and a crucible for a coming wave of extremism. It is, in other words, the new Afghanistan - albeit on a significantly larger scale. The number of foreign fighters in the Islamic State is more than one-and-a-half times the size of the total contingent that joined the Afghan jihad against the Soviets in the entire decade between 1979 and 1989. As impressive as it is, however, the size of the Islamic State's jihadi contingent is dwarfed by a second, far less well understood foreign fighter stream: the Shi'ite militias and fighters that have been mobilized over the past two years by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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The Sorry State Of The Ukrainian Navy - And Why It Should Matter To America

August 11, 2017  •  The National Interest

Although it has come at enormous human and financial cost, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has raged in the latter's eastern territories since 2014 has helped spark a fundamental transformation of the Ukrainian military. The country now boasts the second-largest standing army in Europe (behind that of Russia), while a newfound sense of national unity – together with new training and greater readiness – has forged an increasingly capable fighting force. Nevertheless, at least one notable weak spot in Ukraine's current military posture remains. Once the pride of the country's armed forces, the Ukrainian navy has been a principal casualty of the ongoing conflict with Russia.

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Central Asia's Encouraging Development
Why the Region Is Embracing Greater Cooperation and Coordination

August 8, 2017  •  Foreign Affairs

Something is stirring across the vast expanse encompassing the Caucasus and Central Asia, an area of nearly 1.6 million square miles and more than 86 million people. Throughout the region, political momentum is gathering for deeper cooperation, engagement, and coordination. This is a decidedly new development. A millennium ago, the broad area that is today known as Central Asia was a global hub for commerce, science, and innovation, before it was gradually eclipsed by the rise of competing empires and intellectual stagnation. More recently, the region's potential has been stifled by decades of Soviet control and by post-Soviet political fragmentation. Over the past quarter century, territorial disputes (like the one between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh), resource squabbles (such as those surrounding Caspian energy and Central Asian water sharing), and sundry other divisions have dominated regional discourse, shaping how local states have seen one another—and how the outside world has viewed the area as a whole. Now, however, the region is exhibiting new signs of life.

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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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