A week of windy and format-challenged posts it would seem.
The Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (unclassified version) [47-pages pdf} was released earlier this week. Baby talk aside, passages of sufficient noteworthiness were nonetheless not completely in the lacking. Chosen for reasons undulating between the cynical and the significant, here are excerpts we found almost worth the excerpting effort:
The brutal attacks against Muslim civilians unleashed by AQI and AQIM and the conflicting demands of the various extremist agendas are tarnishing al-Qa’ida’s self-styled image as the extremist vanguard. Over the past year, a number of religious leaders and fellow extremists who once had significant influence with al-Qa’ida have publicly criticized it and its affiliates for the use of violent tactics. [A claim as a picture perfect expression of a Strategic PSYOP in play]
Many Sunnis who participate in local security initiatives retain a hostile attitude toward Shia parties that dominate the government, and some Shia leaders still view many anti-AQI Sunni groups as thinly disguised insurgents who are plotting to reverse the political process that brought the Shia to power. Security in southern Iraq probably will remain fragile in the coming months as rival Shia groups continue to compete violently for political power and economic resources. In Al Basrah, security remains tenuous. Security also is a problem in northern Iraq. Violence has increased in Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, as both Sunni resistance elements and AQI increasingly focus their activities in the area. The Iraqi government will have to address Sunni Arab concerns over representation on the provincial councils, defeat AQI and the insurgents, and address Kurdish expansionism to improve security in northern Iraq .[Filed under Significant]
Negotiations on hydrocarbon laws continue to be stalled by disagreements between the central government and the Kurds over control of resources and revenue sharing. [We keep meaning to write a Mosul for Dummies Like Us]
Although Riyadh also has made strides against key supporters and facilitators of extremist attacks in Iraq, Saudi Arabia remains a source of recruits and finances for Iraq and Levant-based militants and Saudi extremists constitute the largest share of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq.
We judge the ongoing political uncertainty in Pakistan has not seriously threatened the military’s control of the nuclear arsenal, but vulnerabilities exist. The Pakistan Army oversees nuclear programs, including security responsibilities, and we judge that the Army’s management of nuclear policy issues—to include physical security—has not been degraded by Pakistan’s political crisis. [Filed under Significant; 5-page pdf]
...we will be alert for signs of systemic changes such as an indication that [Russian] presidential powers are being weakened in favor of a stronger prime minister.
Russia is positioning to control an energy supply and transportation network spanning from Europe to East Asia. Aggressive Russian efforts to control, restrict or block the transit of hydrocarbons from the Caspian to the West—and to ensure that East-West energy corridors remain subject to Russian control
[Russian] demographic, health problems, and conscription deferments erode available manpower [in the military].
We judge that the Balkans will remain unsettled in 2008 as Kosovo’s drive for independence from Serbia comes to a head and inter-ethnic relations in Bosnia worsen. [Filed under - Definitely not sexy]
China’s global engagement is not driven by Communist ideology or military expansionism, but instead by a need for access to markets, resources, technology and expertise...
Beijing is seeking a constructive relationship with the US and the rest of the world, which will allow China to fully capitalize on a favorable strategic environment. Indeed, Chinese officials consistently emphasize the need to seek cooperative relations with Washington, because conflict with the United States would risk derailing China’s economic development. They also seek to alleviate international concerns about China’s strategic intentions.
Persistent insecurity in Nigeria’s oil producing region, the Niger Delta, poses a direct threat to US strategic interests in sub-Saharan Africa. Ongoing instability and conflict in other parts of Africa pose less direct though still significant threats to US interests because of their high humanitarian and peacekeeping costs...
Tensions between longtime enemies Ethiopia and Eritrea have increased over the past year, with both sides seemingly preparing for a new war. The last war killed about 80,000 soldiers on both sides. If conflict reignites, Ethiopian President Meles’s own hold on power could be put in jeopardy if the war went badly for him.
With about 70 percent of global oil reserves inaccessible or of limited accessibility to outside oil companies, competition between international oil companies to secure stakes in the few countries open to foreign investment is likely to intensify. [Filed under Darfur et al]
Global food prices also have been rising steadily over the past two years driven by higher energy prices...The double impact of high energy and food prices is increasing the risk of social and political instability in vulnerable countries.
The most direct threat to the US is the spread of infectious pathogens to our shores, or within areas where US personnel are deployed.