Wednesday, January 1, 2014

grim assessments

Let's start the year with some pessimistic forecasts from the U.S. intelligence community:

1, Afghanistan is likely to fracture and the Kabul government grow increasingly irrelevant even with continued U.S. aid and a small U.S. troop presence.

As the Washington Post reports:
A new American intelligence assessment on the Afghan war predicts that the gains the United States and its allies have made during the past three years are likely to have been significantly eroded by 2017, even if Washington leaves behind a few thousand troops and continues bankrolling the impoverished nation, according to officials familiar with the report.
2. Assad will likely maintain power in Syria, though in a smaller rump state, while a vicious civil war rages.

As the Wall Street Journal reports

In many ways, Syria as it was known before simply doesn't exist any longer, U.S. officials say. Its place has been taken by a shattered state riven into sectarian enclaves, radicalized by war and positioned to send worrisome ripples out across the Middle East for years to come, say current and former officials.
 In fact, U.S. officials think the chances of steering the outcome have shrunk dramatically. The intelligence assessments that once showed Mr. Assad on the verge of defeat now say he could remain in power for the foreseeable future in key parts of the country bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean coast. The U.S. doesn't think he will be able to retake the whole country again, U.S. intelligence agencies believe. Areas outside his control are fracturing into warring enclaves along ethnic and sectarian lines, abutting a new al Qaeda-affiliated haven that sweeps from Syria into Iraq.
 The civil war could last another decade or more....
I don't have any bright ideas about how to forestall these discouraging developments, and I don't think our policymakers do either.

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