The top U.S. intelligence official is running out of options to bring peace to war-ravaged parts of the Middle East.
“I don’t have an answer,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in an interview with Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.“The U.S. can’t fix it. The fundamental issues they have — the large population bulge of disaffected young males, ungoverned spaces, economic challenges and the availability of weapons — won’t go away for a long time.”
Even if armed forces are able to root out al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, the area will “be in a perpetual state of suppression for a long time,” Clapper added.
The comments are among the most pessimistic about the Middle East’s future from the nation’s top spy and reflect growing conviction within the administration that the protracted instability will outlast President Obama’s time in office.
Despite the efforts of the U.S. and allied nations, Syrian rebel groups have failed to clear ISIS from its self-proclaimed caliphate and are locked in a stalemate with embattled President Bashar Assad.
The fight against ISIS and other extremists will last “decades” Clapper told the Post, even while ISIS’s territory is slowly narrowed.