Coats: Overall Situation in Afghanistan to Deteriorate
The overall situation in Afghanistan will deteriorate modestly this year a top American spy master told lawmakers on Tuesday adding that Pakistan-supported terrorist groups would continue to attacks inside Afghanistan from its safe havens across the border.
"Militant groups supported by Islamabad will continue to take advantage of their safe haven in Pakistan to plan and conduct attacks in India and Afghanistan, including against US interests," Dan Coats, Director National Intelligence said in his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Pakistan, he said, will continue to threaten US interests by deploying new nuclear weapons capabilities, maintaining its ties to militants, restricting counterterrorism cooperation, and drawing closer to China.
"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.