Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Targeting Iran's Revolutionary Guards
Priorities for the Trump administration

October 2017  •  AFPC Iran Strategy Brief No. 9

The passage this summer of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act[1], a wide-ranging legislative package that imposed new economic pressure on Russia, Iran and North Korea, reignited the debate over U.S. policy toward the Islamic Republic. The relevant provisions of the Act require the White House, pursuant to Executive Order No. 13224, to formally designate the totality of Iran's clerical army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), as a terrorist organization by no later than October 31st of this year.[2] In his October 13th speech on Iran policy, President Trump confirmed that he will do so.[3] Such a step is hardly unprecedented. In its early days in office, the Trump administration seriously explored the possibility of a similar blacklisting of the IRGC.[4] However, resistance within the Federal bureaucracy (coupled with the unfortunate conflation of action against the IRGC and the potential designation of the Muslim Brotherhood, a different - and more controversial - entity) conspired to stymie that effort. The passage of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act effectively reopened this conversation as it relates to the Revolutionary Guards, and empowered the White House to take meaningful action against them.

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President Trump Takes A Wise Middle Course On The Iran Nuclear Deal

October 20, 2017  •  Orlando Sentinel

In his policy speech last Friday, President Trump did not scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as some prominent conservative thinkers had suggested he should. Nor did he simply leave the deal intact, as proponents of the agreement had previously counseled. Instead, the president charted a middle way intended to give America greater leverage over Iran's nuclear program and processes.

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Trump Takes Aim At The IRGC

October 18, 2017  •  Al-Hurra Digital

You wouldn't know it from the media coverage surrounding President Trump's October 13th speech on Iran, but the most notable element of the Administration's new, "comprehensive" strategy toward the Islamic Republic isn't its plan to revisit the 2015 nuclear deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Of course, President Trump's decision to formally "decertify" that agreement should have come as a surprise to no one. During last year's presidential election, candidate Trump campaigned heavily on his opposition to the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement. And, since taking office in January, Mr. Trump has consistently maintained that the deal concluded two years ago between Iran and the P5+1 powers—the U.S., UK, Russia, China, France and Germany—is deeply damaging to American national security interests. That his White House would begin to rethink it, therefore, was simply a matter of time. Rather, the most notable aspect of the Administration's new approach toward Iran is its plan for a full-scale assault on regime's most powerful strategic asset: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

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Prague's Eastward Turn

October 10, 2017  •  U.S. News & World Report

Since its emergence from the wreckage of the Soviet Union more than a quarter-century ago, the Czech Republic has consistently ranked as a success story of post-totalitarian transition. Unlike that of many of its neighbors in Central and Eastern Europe, Prague's path toward democracy has been more or less linear, cresting in the middle of the last decade when the country garnered the ranking of "full democracy" from the prestigious Economist Intelligence Unit. Today, however, Czech democracy is showing signs of erosion, while the country as a whole is in the process of making an alarming eastward turn. Since the democratic high-water mark of 2013, the Czech Republic has retreated on such indicators as social equality, media freedom and political pluralism, and now ranks as a "flawed democracy" by European assessments. This decline corresponds to the rise to power of President Milos Zeman and his center-left Party of Civic Rights.

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Why Trump Will Not Allow The Iran Deal To Stand

September 29, 2017  •  The Hill

Those who support the Obama administration's landmark nuclear deal with Iran are nervous, and for good reason. In his Sept. 19 address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump gave what was perhaps the clearest signal to date that he has no plans to recertify the agreement (formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA) next month, as mandated by Congress. Certification of the agreement isn't a condition of the nuclear deal itself. Rather, it's a provision of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) passed by Congress in 2015 in an effort to gain some leverage over the Obama administration's opaque negotiating process with Iran. INARA - or Corker-Cardin, as the legislation is more popularly known - stipulates that the president must confirm to Congress every ninety days that 1) Iran is fully implementing the terms of the JCPOA; 2) the Islamic Republic has not committed a material breach of that agreement; 3) that Iran has not done anything to materially advance its nuclear weapons program; and 4) that continued suspension of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran remains in the national security interests of the United States. Currently, none of these criteria are being satisfied.

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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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