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Beware Iran's Jihadi Legion
By Ilan Berman, Al-Hurra Digital, August 14, 2017
 

Today, the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group has become a top strategic priority of the United States and its allies in the region. In turn, the efforts of Washington and Middle Eastern partners have begun to pay real dividends, with recent months seeing a significant rollback the group's self-declared "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. But lurking in the background of the current counterterrorism fight is another, and potentially even more significant, long-term threat.

 
The Sorry State Of The Ukrainian Navy - And Why It Should Matter To America
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, August 11, 2017
 

Although it has come at enormous human and financial cost, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine that has raged in the latter's eastern territories since 2014 has helped spark a fundamental transformation of the Ukrainian military. The country now boasts the second-largest standing army in Europe (behind that of Russia), while a newfound sense of national unity - together with new training and greater readiness - has forged an increasingly capable fighting force. Nevertheless, at least one notable weak spot in Ukraine's current military posture remains.

 
Russia Has Weaponized Energy
By Philip Decker, U.S. News & World Report, August 10, 2017
 

In January 2009, Eastern Europeans were rudely reminded of a very blunt fact: If Russia wants to shut off the gas, it can.

Angered by backlogged debts, Gazprom, Russia's massive state petroleum and natural gas corporation, cut off its supply of gas to neighboring Ukraine - and, through it, to parts of the European Union. For weeks in the dead of winter, millions of Europeans were stranded without power, as Gazprom and its Ukrainian counterpart Naftogaz blamed one another for the crisis. While the flow of gas eventually resumed, European governments emerged from the experience shaken, and for good reason.

 
Central Asia's Encouraging Development
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, August 8, 2017
 

Something is stirring across the vast expanse encompassing the Caucasus and Central Asia, an area of nearly 1.6 million square miles and more than 86 million people. Throughout the region, political momentum is gathering for deeper cooperation, engagement, and coordination.

 
Can Pakistani Technology Fight Pakistani Terror?
By Robert Bole, The Diplomat, August 3, 2017
 

Pakistan has a long and troubled history of supporting extremists as a tool of statecraft - a policy that has, among many other things, inflamed tensions with regional rival India and roiled Islamabad's relations with Washington. Of late, however, this strategy of supporting proxies to maintain a zone of influence in the region has turned inward, with grievous consequences for the country's internal security and the cohesion of the Pakistani state itself.

 
Our Climate Is Our Security
By Chloe Thompson, U.S. News & World Report, August 1, 2017
 

Climate change has historically been a controversial topic, and former President Barack Obama was sharply criticized for addressing it during his time in office. However, the issue may be losing some of its political toxicity of late. More and more professionals and politicians on both sides of the aisle have begun speaking openly about the linkage between the environment and America's national security.

 
Still A Bad Deal
By Ilan Berman, U.S. News & World Report, July 18, 2017
 

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.

 
High Noon In The Himalayas
By Jeff M. Smith, War on the Rocks, July 13, 2017
 

If you're struggling to make sense of the latest standoff between the Chinese and Indian militaries 10,000 feet in the Himalayas, don't fret: You're in good company. The showdown at Doka La is the product of a multi-layered, multi-party dispute steeped in centuries-old treaties and ambiguous territorial claims. Only recently have sufficient details emerged to piece together a coherent picture of the crisis and we're still left with more questions than answers. However, one thing is clear: While stare-downs at the disputed China-India border are a common affair, the episode now underway is an altogether different, potentially far more dangerous, beast.

 
How Russian Rule Has Changed Crimea
By Ilan Berman, Foreign Affairs, July 13, 2017
 

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.

 
Iran Raises The Stakes
By Lawrence J. Haas, U.S. News & World Report, July 11, 2017
 

With America's global attention largely focused elsewhere, Iran continues to expand its military capabilities - legally and otherwise - forcing the question of what Washington and its regional allies plan to do about it.

 
The Basis Of The Trump Doctrine
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, July 7, 2017
 

President Donald Trump spoke Thursday in Warsaw, Poland, to an enthusiastic crowd in historic Krasinski Square. He discussed the longstanding history of the U.S./Poland relationship, and the heroism of the Polish people during the 1944 Warsaw uprising against Nazism. He also laid the groundwork for what might be an emerging Trump doctrine of U.S. and European national security.

 
Trump's Opportunity To Arm Ukraine
By Stephen Blank, The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2017
 

President Trump's trip to Poland next week is an exceptional opportunity to reassert U.S. leadership and American greatness. In Warsaw Mr. Trump can reaffirm the U.S. commitment to European security by giving Ukraine the weapons it urgently needs to defend itself against Russia's continuing aggression.

 
Engulfed In The Gulf: Erdogan And The Qatar Crisis
By Svante Cornell, The Turkey Analyst, June 29, 2017
 

The Gulf crisis over Qatar is once again catapulting Turkey into the politics of the Middle East, for which it is woefully unprepared. After a brief attempt at neutrality, Ankara threw in its lot with Doha, condemning the sanctions imposed by a Saudi-led coalition and accelerated its deployment of troops to a new base in Qatar. This decision risks upsetting President Erdogan's tenuous rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and reflects the continued ideological prism guiding Turkish foreign policy. But it also reflects a concern with regime security. At least in part, Erdogan's embrace of Qatar reflects a belief that the same forces that supported the overthrow of Egypt's Muhammad Morsi welcomed the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey and now seek regime change in Doha. If so, Turkey's stance is unlikely to change, indicating a standoff may in the making.

 
A Win-Win For Assad
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 21, 2017
 

The United States and Russia seem to be on a collision course in Syria, which is just fine for the regime in Damascus.

On Sunday, a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 fighter bomber that was conducting operations near positions held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces outside the besieged Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. The shoot-down took place after repeated warnings for the Syrian aircraft to disengage, and the Coalition justified the action as being "in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces." The next day, a U.S. Air Force F-15E downed an Iranian-made Shahed 129 armed drone near the site of a U.S.-backed training base at al Tanf for rebels opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

 
Central Asia: All Together Now
By Bilahari Kausikan, S. Frederick Starr, and Yang Cheng, The American Interest, June 16, 2017
 

After a quarter century of independence, the fragmentation of Central Asia is evident to all. A senior official there might justifiably complain about how each country "[is] pursuing its own limited objectives and dissipating its meager resources in the overlapping or even conflicting endeavors of sister states." He might conclude that such a process, "carries the seeds of weakness in [the countries'] incapacity for growth and their self-perpetuating dependence on the advanced, industrial nations." One can also imagine that another Central Asian official, seeking an alternative, might propose that "we must think not only of our national interests but posit them against regional interests: That is a new way of thinking about our problems."

 
The Kremlin Needs to Address Russia's Demographic Crisis
By Ilan Berman, The Moscow Times, June 13, 2017
 

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.

 
No One Wins The Fight Over Qatar
By James S. Robbins, U.S. News & World Report, June 9, 2017
 

The diplomatic row between Qatar and seven mostly Sunni Arab countries is being called a stumbling block for U.S. efforts to promote a united front against Islamic extremism in the region. But it won't be - because it is not in any country's interest for the rift to become permanent.

 
Saudi Arabia Has Backed Qatar Into A Corner
By Ilan Berman, The National Interest, June 8, 2017
 

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.

 
Qatar Was A Double Agent In War On Terror
By Ilan Berman, USA Today, June 6, 2017
 

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.

 
Why Is India Excluding Australia From Naval Drills?
By Jeff M. Smith, The Diplomat, June 1, 2017
 

Over the past quarter-century, the Malabar naval exercises have blossomed from a relatively mundane, low-level Indo-U.S. naval drill into a robust demonstration of geopolitical force joining the Indo-Pacific's three most powerful democracies. The history and significance of Malabar, which Japan joined as a permanent participant in 2015, have received ample attention elsewhere. But let me focus this piece on the geopolitical context and significance of Australia's request to join the 2017 Malabar exercises and India's recent response.