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Intelligence Chief: Iraq and Syria May Not Survive as States

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    Intelligence Chief: Iraq and Syria May Not Survive as States
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    Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart testifies about "world wide cyber threats" during an open hearing of the House (Select) Intelligence Committee at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center September 10, 2015 in Washington, DC.

    Iraq and Syria may have been permanently torn asunder by war and sectarian tensions, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Thursday in a frank assessment that is at odds with Obama administration policy.

    "I'm having a tough time seeing it come back together," Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart told an industry conference, speaking of Iraq and Syria, both of which have seen large chunks territory seized by the Islamic State.

    On Iraq, Stewart said he is "wrestling with the idea that the Kurds will come back to a central government of Iraq," suggesting he believed it was unlikely. On Syria, he added: "I can see a time in the future where Syria is fractured into two or three parts."

    That is not the U.S. goal, he said, but it's looking increasingly likely.

    CIA Director John Brennan, speaking on the same panel at an industry conference, noted that the countries' borders remain in place, but the governments have lost control of them. A self-declared caliphate by the Islamic State straddles the border between both countries.