Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

The Fruits Of 'Maximum Pressure': An Increasingly Isolated Iran

June 25, 2020  •  Newsweek

You wouldn't know it from the popular press, but the Trump administration's campaign of "maximum pressure" against Iran is working. In recent weeks, assorted commentators and Obama-era officials have taken to social media and the editorial pages of various newspapers to argue the opposite. They have blamed the Trump administration's expanding economic sanctions and political pressure on the Islamic Republic for everything from causing a humanitarian catastrophe inside the country to inadvertently setting the stage for a new war in the Middle East. Quite predictably, in this election year, Iran has also become a partisan campaign issue. Democratic Party presidential contender Joe Biden has argued publicly that the Trump White House has "no strategy" for dealing with Iran, and his top foreign policy advisor has intimated a Biden administration would likely reverse course and adopt a more conciliatory stance toward Tehran. So, is "maximum pressure" really as ineffective as the critics are saying? Indicators from within the Islamic Republic suggest precisely the opposite.

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Israel's Government Is Gambling On Annexation

June 23, 2020  •  Al-Hurra Digital

Since April of 2019, when the idea was first floated publicly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's plan to annex portions of the West Bank and Jordan River Valley has become widely unpopular. In a recent Jerusalem Post poll, only 27 percent of respondents unequivocally favored annexation. Nearly as many (23 percent of those polled) opposed the idea outright, and another 21 percent said the plan should be postponed from its planned July launch, perhaps significantly. Even more tellingly, less than half of all voters in Netanyahu's own Likud party now appear to support the initiative. Why, then, does Bibi seem determined to push forward with his plan this summer? The answer has a great deal to do with how Israel's long-serving head-of-state sees the current international scene – and his domestic situation.

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The Sino-American Competition Is Coming To Central Asia

June 21, 2020  •  The National Interest

A new era of strategic competition is unfolding between Washington and Beijing. Relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China (PRC) have been on a downward trajectory for the past decade, propelled by increasingly divergent views of the global order. Even so, the bilateral relationship as a whole has witnessed a dramatic deterioration over the past two years driven by a host of issues, among them, growing resistance to unfair Chinese trade and investment practices, Beijing's increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, and mounting awareness of the Chinese government's campaign of systematic repression against its Uighur Muslim minority. More recently, China's propaganda and political duplicity over its role in the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has helped to reinforce negative views of the PRC among the American public.

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Turkey And Iran Coordinate Against The Kurds

June 11, 2020  •  Al-Hurra Digital

In late May, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a fresh offensive against Kurdish militants operating across the country's common border with Iraq. In and of itself, the new campaign was not remarkable; Turkey's military has long carried out cross-border operations against elements associated with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), which represents the most significant insurgent threat to the Turkish state. Moreover, in preceding weeks, the Turkish government had stepped up its military operations in the country's east and southeast as part of a broad counterterrorism offensive. Yet the targets of the May raid were not fighters directly associated with the PKK. They were, instead, Kurdish militants from the Kurdistan Free Life Party, or PJAK. Airstrikes carried out by the Turkish Air Force north of Suleimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan on May 26th succeeded in killing at least two members of the far-left militant group, which has waged a long-running guerrilla campaign against neighboring Iran.

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The Iranian-Israeli Conflict Goes Online

May 26, 2020  •  Al-Hurra Digital

A different kind of conflict is taking shape in the Middle East. Unlike the long-running Syrian civil war, this one is not a pitched power struggle between an entrenched secular dictatorship and assorted Islamist forces. Nor is it a brutal political tug-of-war between rival militias, the way post-Muammar Gadhafi Libya has become. Rather, it is a further intensification of the ongoing shadow war between Israel and its regional nemesis, Iran – one that has now begun playing out in cyberspace.

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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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