Ilan Berman
Ilan Berman
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles

How To Turn Iran's Tanker Mischief Against The Islamic Republic

June 19, 2019  •  USA Today

By now, there is ample evidence that last week's attack on two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz was the work of the Iranian regime, as the Trump administration has alleged. A video released by the U.S. military in the aftermath of the incident documents Iranian sailors removing what appears to be an unexploded mine from one of the tankers, the Japanese-owned Kokura Courageous. This, coupled with assessments from the U.S. intelligence community, have forced even President Trump's fiercest critics to concede that Tehran was the likely culprit. But what, exactly, should Washington do in response? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the United States is not seeking conflict with Iran, despite the provocation. Yet some sort of American response is clearly required, lest the Iranian regime be emboldened to carry out additional acts of sabotage in one of the world's most vital commercial waterways, through which a fifth of world oil transits.

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Dreaming Of A Deal With Russia Over Iran

June 10, 2019  •  Radio Farda

During its first half-year in office, the Trump administration actively flirted with the idea that it might be possible, under the proper conditions, to "flip" the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin and get it to support American attempts to pressure Tehran. That effort, however, fizzled over time, derailed by the longstanding nature of the strategic ties between Moscow and Tehran, as well as by their close joint military cooperation in support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, as a result of which both have become deeply entrenched on Syrian soil. Today, however, the idea seems to be resurfacing once more.

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The Problem Confronting Trump's Peace Plan

June 4, 2019  •  Al-Hurra Digital

Later this month, unless it is delayed by Israel's current political turmoil, the Trump administration will start rolling out its long awaited, much-debated plan for Mideast peace. But whenever Washington renews its pressure on Jerusalem and Ramallah to return to meaningful talks, it will face a daunting hurdle. After years of political stagnation, the government of Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is increasingly seen by its constituents as part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, to their ills.

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Iran's Crown Prince Strikes Back

May 29, 2019  •  The National Interest

Over the past few weeks, the Trump administration has turned up the heat on Tehran. Way up. As part of a "maximum pressure" campaign aimed at curbing the malign international activities of Iran's ruling regime, the White House has dramatically intensified sanctions, blacklisted the country's clerical army, and put foreign buyers of Iranian crude on notice that they need to pull out of the Iranian market or face potentially catastrophic consequences. But to what end? President Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would be willing to negotiate a new framework agreement with Iran's ayatollahs to replace the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and do so without preconditions. That may indeed happen, if Iran's ayatollahs agree to come back to the diplomatic table. But the massive economic and political pressure now being placed on Iran by the United States could lead to another outcome as well: a collapse of the current Iranian regime. That raises a key question for policymakers: if the United States does indeed succeed in causing a fundamental transformation in Iran, then what should come next? In this conversation, one personality looms exceedingly large. That individual is Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran, who is now the most prominent leader of the secular democratic opposition to the Islamic Republic.

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Why US-Turkish Ties Won't Get Better

May 24, 2019  •  The Hill

"Every year, we hear that this is the worst year ever for U.S.-Turkish relations," a prominent Turkish academic wryly remarked to me last month during my visit to the country. "This year, they might be right." He may have a point. The relationship between the United States and Turkey, which has deteriorated precipitously in recent years over an array of strategic and political disagreements, is poised to become significantly worse in the days ahead.

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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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