WASHINGTON - The overall situation in Afghanistan will deteriorate modestly this year a top American spy master told lawmakers on Tuesday.
“The overall situation in Afghanistan probably will deteriorate modestly this year in the face of persistent political instability, sustained attacks by the Taliban -led insurgency, unsteady Afghan National Security Forces ANSF performance, and chronic financial shortfalls,” Coats said.
The National Unity Government probably will struggle to hold long-delayed parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for July 2018, and to prepare for a presidential election in 2019, he said.
The ANSF probably will maintain control of most major population centers with coalition force support, but the intensity and geographic scope of Taliban activities will put those centers under continued strain, he added.
Afghanistan’s economic growth will stagnate at around 2.5 percent per year, and Kabul will remain reliant on international donors for the great majority of its funding well beyond 2018, Coats said.
Coats said Sunni violent extremists—most notably ISIS and al-Qa‘ida—pose continuing terrorist threats to US interests and partners worldwide, while US-based homegrown violent extremists (HVEs) will remain the most prevalent Sunni violent extremist threat in the United States.
“ISIS and al-Qa‘ida and their respective networks will be persistent threats, as will groups not subordinate to them, such as the Haqqani Taliban Network,” Coats said.