The top U.S. military intelligence official said last week that Iraq and Syria may not be able to "come back together" as individual states because of the damage done by the Islamic State.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, cast doubt on the situation in Iraq and Syria on Thursday when speaking on a panel at an industry conference, Real Clear Defense reported.
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"I’m having a tough time seeing it come back together," Stewart said. The Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS) currently controls large areas of territory in both Iraq and Syria and has even implemented traditional methods of governance in those areas.
When it comes to Iraq, Stewart said he is "wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq," indicating that he views it as unlikely.
On the topic of Syria, he said, "I can see a time in the future where Syria is fractured into two or three parts."
Stewart said that such results are not the goal of U.S. policy in the region.
The DIA chief was joined by CIA Director John Brennan on the panel Thursday who also expressed the belief that the Middle East would endure "change" over the next 10 to 20 years because of IS terrorists.
Brennan said that, though the borders of Iraq and Syria remain in place, the countries’ governments have lost control of their respective borders. Currently, IS militants control an area that encompasses the border between both countries.
The CIA director also said that Iraqis and Syrians are increasingly likely to denote themselves by tribe or religious sect than nationality.
"I think the Middle East is going to be seeing change over the coming decade or two that is going to make it look unlike it did," Brennan explained.
Both Iraq and Syria have been splintered not only by the Islamic State’s territorial gains but also by conflicts among their own inhabitants. In Iraq, Sunnis and Shiites continue to resist reconciliation, while rebels in Syria are engaged in a civil war with President Bashar-al Assad’s regime.
Days before his retirement last month, former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno supposed that ultimately partitioning Iraq "might be the only solution."
"I think that is for the region and politicians to figure out, diplomats to figure out how to work this—but that is something that could happen," he said.
Despite the ongoing chaos created by Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East, President Obama has refused to send more troops to the region.