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Terror will continue to be a major part of our lives in 2014, according to the assessment of the experts. Terror in Israel will continue as the fact that the “peace talks” with the Palestinians lead to nowhere becomes clear.
The stronghold of the extreme terror in the Sinai peninsula in Egypt will continue to “export” acts of terror to neighboring countries, but not only. The Hezbollah in Lebanon will continue to increase its potential fire power in spite of the problems it faces in the country.
The experts also see a possible cooperation between terrorists in the Palestinian Authority and “imported elements” that are part of what is referred to as the “Jihadi Islam”. And so the world will continue to be threatened by many kinds of terror.
The Center for Preventive Action/Council on Foreign Relations has prepared a forecast that is quoted by the Atlantic magazine. The forecast is based on a recent survey which asked more than 1,200 U.S. government officials, academics, and experts to assess the impact and likelihood of 30 scenarios. It divides the results into three tiers of risk, and some of the findings are alarming.
Beyond the familiar flashpoints – military intervention in Syria’s civil war, strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities – the report raises concerns about overlooked threats ranging from turmoil in Jordan to civil war in Iraq to a border clash between China and India. The study is also notable for the risks it downplays, including armed confrontation between China and its neighbors over territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas.
The most threatening and most likely conflicts include some you might expect: limited military intervention in Syria’s deteriorating civil war; a cyberattack on critical infrastructure in the U.S.; military strikes against Iran if nuclear talks fail or Tehran advances its nuclear program; a North Korean crisis sparked by military provocation or internal political instability; a major terrorist attack on the U.S. or an ally; and greater turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan as U.S. troops withdraw from the region and Afghanistan holds elections.
But other potential crises in this category have received less attention and were deemed less threatening in last year’s survey, including the “strengthening of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula resulting from continued political instability in Yemen and/or backlash from U.S. counterterrorism operations” (in the latest example of those operations, a strike hit a Yemeni wedding); “civil war in Iraq due to rising Sunni-Shia sectarian violence” (the civilian death toll in the country more than doubled this year); and “growing political instability and civil violence in Jordan triggered by spillover from the Syrian civil war” (according to the experts polled, there is less of a risk of a similar phenomenon occurring in Lebanon, where a bombing near the Iranian embassy in Beirut recently killed 23 people).
Second-tier risks , according to the report, include a “severe Indo-Pakistani military confrontation triggered by a major terrorist attack or heightened violence in Kashmir” and “escalating violence and risk of mass atrocities in the Central African Republic,” where a wave of sectarian killings has raised fears of a coming genocide.
In what may be the most striking finding, military conflict between China and neighbors like Japan and the Philippines in the East and South China Seas is judged to be less of a threat than it was in 2013, even after a tense year capped most recently by Beijing’s creation of an Air Defense Identification Zone in the East China Sea. The thinking, perhaps, is that China’s has tested the limits of its assertiveness in the region and will show more restraint in the coming year, or that the countries involved have now established mechanisms to resolve disputes before they devolve into armed confrontation.
Some of the least likely and threatening conflicts have never before been included in the study, including China and India butting heads over disputed territory, Venezuela succumbing to political crisis in the wake of Hugo Chavez’s death, and Buddhists and Muslim Rohingyas clashing in Myanmar. South Sudan is mentioned, but only in the context of possible military conflict with Sudan—not in terms of South Sudan itself imploding (the survey was conducted in November, before internal fighting erupted in the country).