Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

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Still A Bad Deal

July 18, 2017  •  U.S. News & World Report

Last Friday marked the two-year anniversary of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement: the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that agreement was intended as a solution to Iran's persistent nuclear ambitions, and as a vehicle to reboot the Iranian regime's relationship with the world. Two years on, it's clear that the dead has indeed been transformative - for the Iranian regime, at least. For America and its allies, however, it has expanded the gravity of the contemporary threat posed by the Islamic Republic.

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How Russian Rule Has Changed Crimea

July 13, 2017  •  Foreign Affairs

Since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, the Ukrainian peninsula has become something akin to a "black box," with little verifiable data on conditions available to counterbalance the official Russian narrative that all is well in the Kremlin's newest territorial holding. Now, however, a new study has provided perhaps the most detailed look to date on the true state of political and economic play on the peninsula. Published by the Ukrainian Institute for the Future, a new but well-connected think tank based in Kiev, the report—entitled "Crimea: Three Years of Occupation"—draws on data from local sources and the analysis of seasoned specialists to paint a damning picture of the human and economic costs of Russian rule, and to make a compelling case that the Kremlin's Crimean project is a threat to Crimeans themselves, as well as to everyone else.

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The Kremlin Needs To Address Russia's Demographic Crisis

June 13, 2017  •  The Moscow Times

The latest numbers are in, and the forecast for Russia's demographic health is bleak. According to official figures released by the country's state statistics agency, Rosstat, in late May, Russia had 70,000 fewer births during the first four months of 2017 than it did a year earlier. These statistics run against the Kremlin's triumphalist narrative, in which strong leadership and shrewd investments allowed Russia to decisively turn a demographic corner. Instead, as one analysis of the Rosstat figures puts it, the "extinction" of Russia's population is accelerating, as the adverse demographic trends that have long affected the country continue to rage unabated.

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Saudi Arabia Has Backed Qatar Into A Corner

June 8, 2017  •  The National Interest

To say that this has been a bad week for Qatar would be an understatement. Over the weekend, five separate Arab states (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt) cut their ties to the Gulf kingdom, citing as causes its extensive support for Islamic extremist groups and its cozy relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The rupture takes the form of a cessation of air travel, a closure of borders, and a call those countries' citizens and businesses to vacate the country. Since then, what might have remained a mere regional rift has exploded into a more serious diplomatic crisis, with a number of other nations moving to reevaluate their own ties to the oil-rich emirate. The Kingdom of Jordan has downgraded its diplomatic relations with Qatar, while the North African nation of Mauritania has opted to sever them completely. The Kingdom of Morocco, meanwhile, has cancelled air travel via the Qatari capital, at least temporarily. Even Senegal has recalled its envoy to Doha, throwing its weight behind the Arab bid to isolate Qatar. As a result, Qatari officials are now staring down the barrel at what could very well become a full-blown international boycott in the not-too-distant future. For its part, Saudi Arabia, the de facto leader of the current campaign, is pressing its advantage. Riyadh has levied a number of onerous demands on Qatar, including the complete cessation of ties with Iran, the expulsion of all leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian offshoot, Hamas, from its soil, and the shuttering of its controversial state-controlled broadcast channel, Al Jazeera. What can Doha do next? In the early going, officials in the kingdom were slow to recognize the severity of their predicament. Now that they do, they are discovering that their country has precious few strategic options for reducing its deepening isolation.

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Qatar Was A Double Agent In War On Terror

June 6, 2017  •  USA Today

Just weeks after the President Trump's inaugural tour of the Middle East, which included significant pressure on the Arab Gulf states to build a regional security architecture to combat the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) and counterbalance Iran, the prospects for such a construct appear more distant than ever, at least at first glance. Over the weekend, five separate Arab states — Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain—all formally severed their diplomatic ties to the Emirate of Qatar over the latter's support of Islamic extremism in various forms.

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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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