Pentagon's top three threats in the 'deep future'

What sorts of threats will the US military face in the 'deep future'? Here is a list of the top three picks.

2. A 'significant and lengthy' period of Sunni-Shiite violence in the Middle East

Heba el-Kholy/El Shorouk Newspaper/AP
Egyptians run from tear gas after clashes erupted between Al-Azhar students and police forces during a protest in the Nasr City district of Cairo on Oct. 20. The protests were the second in two days at Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most prominent center of learning.

The big question in the years after 2020 is what the Arab world will resemble “after a good 20 years of shakeout,” Dr. Hicks says.

In the next decade, the Arab Awakening “will have effects in every part of that region.”

Iraq continues to experience violence, and demonstrations are rampant in Bahrain. It remains to be seen how longstanding regimes like the Saudi royals will weather the violence going on around them, and how they will adapt to the demands of the populace, she adds.

“I think you’ll see the beginnings of what will hopefully not be an incredibly violent – but it will be a tumultuous –10 years.”

Many of these countries, including Egypt, will be “shaking out what it means to be a democracy,” Hicks says.

The end result will be “a reshuffled, new Middle East,” she predicts.

For the US military, that will mean developing language skills and cultural expertise.

It may also mean trying to interest Gulf nations in growing their maritime capabilities, Hicks says – not  traditionally a strength among countries of the region.

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