Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

Latest Articles

Iran's Struggling Space Program Could Be A Real Threat If It Ever Gets Off The Ground

September 14, 2019  •  USA Today

On August 29th, Iran attempted to put its newest commercial satellite, the Nahid-1, into orbit from a test range in the country's north. The endeavor ended inauspiciously, with the rocket blowing up on the launchpad – marking the third such Iranian failure this year alone. But the unsuccessful test nonetheless elicited a strong reaction from Washington. President Trump took to Twitter the next day to publicly troll the Iranians for the botched launch attempt – and to hint that it might have been America's doing. A more serious response followed shortly thereafter; just days later, the Trump administration formally added Iran's official space agency and two affiliated research institutes to its sanctions blacklist. So, why is Washington worried about what seems on the surface to be a struggling Iranian space effort? The answer has everything to do with Iran's strategic programs – and the potential for them to combine in a way that dramatically expands the threat the regime poses to the West.

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Will Israel Go To War Over Hezbollah's Precision-Guided Missiles?

September 13, 2019  •  The National Interest

In early September, Israel's military shelled a series of Hezbollah factories and installations in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The strikes represented the most significant Israeli operation against the terrorist group since the 2006 Lebanon War. It also marked the start of what could well become another military conflict between Israel and the Lebanese Shia militia.

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China In The Middle East: Reshaping Regional Politics

Fall 2019  •  Middle East Quarterly

China has well and truly arrived in the Middle East. After years of relative passivity, the People's Republic of China (PRC) is now making a concerted effort to expand its strategic presence and economic clout in the region. For Middle East nations, Beijing's newfound drive for regional prominence is one of the most consequential—albeit least reported—trends of recent years. It holds the power to reshape regional markets as local governments increasingly reorient their economies to take advantage of Chinese outreach and largesse. But the proliferation of Chinese political and economic influence also increasingly threatens to upend longstanding regional security arrangements and fragment solidarity in the Islamic world. The spread of China's model of technologically-empowered censorship, meanwhile, carries with it the potential to reinforce some of the worst political impulses of the region's autocrats.

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How America's Iran Outreach Is Missing In Action

September 6, 2019  •  The Washington Times

This summer witnessed a rare moment of unity from the notoriously fractious Iranian opposition. In mid-July, dozens of activists of various ideological stripes gathered in Washington, D.C., to publicly protest a group they all view as a common foe - the National Iranian American Council (NIAC). The demonstration was the culmination of growing outrage on the part of the Iranian diaspora with the activities of NIAC, which in recent years has unilaterally appointed itself the advocate for America's nearly 1 million-person Iranian expatriate community - and used that perch to advance policies overwhelmingly favorable to Iran's clerical regime. Indeed, although ostensibly a "nonpartisan, nonprofit organization," NIAC was a key member of the "echo chamber" created by the Obama administration to sell its 2015 nuclear deal with Iran to a skeptical American public. Since then, further revelations regarding the group's close, ongoing coordination with the Iranian regime - in particular its wily foreign minister, Javad Zarif - have put to rest any lingering doubts that NIAC was and remains an ardent advocate for the Islamic Republic. The July rally was intended as a public condemnation of this activism, and it naturally drew significant media attention from a bevy of media outlets, ranging from the BBC to RT. Yet, one was conspicuously absent. The Voice of America's Persian News Network, which serves as the U.S. government's principal Persian-language broadcaster, opted not to cover the protests. In the process, it re-ignited a long-simmering debate over the state of American outreach toward Iran and its people.

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The Israeli-Iranian Cold War Heats Up

August 27, 2019  •  The Hill

Last month, Israeli fighter jets bombed a series of weapons depots north of Baghdad, Iraq, destroying facilities that were being used by the Iranian regime to ferry weapons to proxy forces in Syria. The event was a milestone, marking the first time the Jewish State is known to have carried out airstrikes on Iraqi soil since its destruction of Saddam Hussein's fledgling nuclear program back in 1981. But it is also an important barometer of a broader Israeli campaign against Iran's proxies and influence in the region — a national effort that is now picking up serious steam.

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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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