CIA report: Mid-East peace agreement unlikely before 2020

Published December 17th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

A report released this week by the US intelligence predicts that the demise of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would set in place a series of events that could end up in an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. 


The intelligence estimate casts doubt on the likelihood of a full peace settlement materializing in the years before 2020; nonetheless, should an Israel-Palestinian  

agreement for a "cold peace" win support among a majority of Palestinians, it would constitute the most significant development in the Middle East region since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the report added.  


It would improve the Arab world's attitude toward the US, and "eliminate a pretext used by Arab countries which are reluctant to implement political reforms," the American assessment claims. Israel, the evaluation says, will not relinquish nuclear weapons it possesses. 


The evaluation was formulated by the National Intelligence Council (NIC), which operates under the guidance of CIA director, George Tenet.  


The Intelligence Council, which is responsible for providing strategic assessments to the US government, recently conducted reviews of likely developments in regions of the world up to the year 2020. 


The Middle East section of this global assessment warns about the possibility of a war between Israel and Syria, or some other Arab country.  


In such a future war, according to the report, it is possible that unconventional biological, chemical or even nuclear weapons could be used, warns the National Intelligence Council. Such a war would eradicate the softening of Arab attitudes toward the US, and also derail efforts to revive progress on the Israel-Palestinian peace front. Another rout of an Arab army by the Israeli army would cause Arab populations to reconsider the viability of their political regimes. 


In the meantime, the American intelligence specialists express concern about possible political unrest and upheaval in Egypt or the oil-rich Saudi kingdom.  


Among other negative effects, the establishment of a radical regime in Egypt would upset that country's relations with Israel. 


"In the Israel-Arab conflict there have been pleasant surprises," says the Intelligence Council evaluation, "but the dispute has almost always reverted back to spheres of hostility and suspicion. Sadat's visit to Jerusalem did not blaze a trail, because only Jordan followed Egypt's lead ... The Oslo Accords collapsed not on account of unpleasant surprises or new problems, but rather due to ongoing animosity and suspicion." 


Regarding Iran, they say, the Islaimc Republic will change significantly during years leading up to 2020, and become more "liberal and democratic". 


The use of "terrorism" is likely to become directed increasingly toward internal targets in Arab countries, claims the National Intelligence Council. "Part of the deal worked out between Arab regimes and peoples today is that violence is directed toward the outside, against Israel and Westerners. International pressure against these regimes, demanding that the export of terror be stopped, will direct the violence inward, toward internal targets in the Arab countries themselves," claim the US intelligence authorities. (

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