Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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How Demographics Could Spark Change in Iran

January 25, 2020  •  The National Interest

For years, Iran's ruling ayatollahs have grappled with a profoundly vexing problem: how best to maintain the loyalty of the country's growing (and increasingly unruly) population. The question isn't strictly a political one. It is also made significantly more complicated by the age of the Islamic Republic's population, which cuts against the regime in key ways. The statistics showcase the extent of the challenge confronting Iranian leaders. The countries of the Middle East are among the world's most youthful, with a median age of just under 31. The Islamic Republic is more or less in line with this trend; the average age of its population, which now numbers approximately 84 million souls, is currently estimated to be 32 years old. The regime's top leadership, meanwhile, is much older – and increasingly infirm.

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Putin's Demographic Revival Is A Pipe Dream

January 23, 2020  •  The Moscow Times

The Kremlin is once again attempting to fix Russia's dismal demographics. In his January 15th address before the Federal Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin devoted the bulk of his remarks to the country's protracted pattern of population decline – a trend which he said it is his administration's "historic duty" to reverse. Putin plans to do so by spending billions of rubles on new subsidies designed to provide support for struggling families and encourage greater procreation (and therefore a hike in the national birth rate). But it's already abundantly clear that these measures are entirely insufficient to pull Russia out of its downward demographic spiral. To understand why, it's necessary to grasp the extent and persistence of Russia's population problem.

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Iran Could Still Strike Back At The U.S.

January 20, 2020  •  National Review

How might Iran respond to the death of Qasem Soleimani? Ever since the Trump administration's January 3 killing of Soleimani, the Islamic Republic's top military commander, that question has been on the mind of policymakers in Washington and the American public at large. Iran's January 8 rocket attack on U.S. military bases in Iraq clearly constituted part of its response, but Iranian leaders quickly made clear that more retaliation is forthcoming. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself has said that, while the rocket attack was a "slap" at the United States, it was "not enough," and the Islamic Republic will continue its opposition to the United States with the ultimate goal of driving America out of the Middle East altogether. Doing so, however, is likely to prove difficult for Iran.

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Tehran Could Turn Trump Into A Regime Changer

January 14, 2020  •  The Hill

The President of the United States isn't interested in overthrowing the Iranian regime. That idea has been a virtual political constant since at least 2016, when candidate Donald J. Trump used the presidential campaign trail to rail against the 2015 nuclear deal concluded byBarack Obama, but pointedly didn't advocate the idea of regime change in Tehran as a substitute strategy. In much the same way, the Iran policy pursued by Trump's administration has concentrated on applying "maximum" economic and political pressure on the Iranian regime to cease its malign regional behavior, while holding out the prospect of a new diplomatic bargain with Tehran as a reward for good conduct. Perhaps the clearest indication of this approach was provided last week, whenPresident Trump— in responding to the Iranian regime's rocketing of military facilities in Iraq — emphasized that the pathway for Iran to return to the negotiating table remained open. In his televised address on Jan. 8, Trump stressed his desire to work toward "making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place," and which "allows Iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential." Yet, in recent days, the White House has slowly but surely gravitated toward greater support for opposition elements within Iran that are now seeking an end to the Islamic Republic.

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Exploiting Iran's Imperial Overstretch

January 7, 2020  •  National Institute for Public Policy Information Series no. 451

Quite suddenly, the Islamic Republic finds itself facing serious setbacks in the Middle East. After years of strategic gains fueled by the dividends of its 2015 nuclear deal with the West, Iran's clerical regime has started to weather significant reversals in the region in recent weeks. These developments — from unrest in Iraq and Lebanon to renewed grassroots protests within the Islamic Republic itself — suggest that, contrary to the public proclamations of its officials, Iran's geostrategic position is in fact far from secure. These same indicators also suggest that the United States now has a crucial opening to further weaken the regime in Tehran, should the Trump administration choose to seize the opportunity.

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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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