Perhaps the title of this blog post should be the “future” wars, ones in addition to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As the US presence officially winds down in Iraq and Afghanistan one should look to and be prepared for the next major conflicts. Although the US talks of having left Iraq there is still a large US presence in the guise of “contractors” guarding an enormous embassy staff of 16,000. What possible use could the US have for 16,000 embassy personnel? Maliki refused to grant the US a permanent US military presence of 2000-3000 despite considerable US pressure, but how many military personnel and “security” personnel are amongst the 16,000 harboured in the embassy? One figure mentioned for contractors is 5,000. One for every three embassy staff?
Iraq will continue to slide into chaos and very likely will be partitioned, the Kurds going it alone, the Sunni supported or absorbed by the Saudis and the Shiite population a de facto state of Iran. A partitioning makes far more sense than an attempt to maintain the fiction of an Iraqi nation-state.
However, even the partitioning will not end the conflict as the Sunni-Shiite split in the entire Islam world is becoming more pronounced and given over to increasing violence within and between Islamic states.
In that regard, recently there was an excellent article which outlines the background to the divide and the future implications:
THE CLASH WITHIN CIVILISATIONS: HOW THE SUNNI-SHIITE DIVIDE CLEAVES THE MIDDLE EAST
As for Afghanistan end 2014 should be the cutoff date for withdrawal fo NATO forces, but that is a bit of a sham, in that an unspecified number of “training and counterterrorism” forces will remain beyond 2014.
Afghanistan will not only revert to governance by its tribal divisions, which is effectively what it now is, it will also become once again a refuge for Islamic extremists. This, in turn, will spillover into Pakistan and precipitate the radicalisation of that state. How will the US deal with a revived Al-Qaeda base in that country? Another invasion?
Once Pakistan has moved completely out of the Western orbit, the West, in particular the US and its de facto state, Israel, will be faced with a much more serious threat than Iran. A Jihadist Pakistan, armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons and a proved delivery system could pose a threat to the entire region, especially to its arch-enemy India.
The wars in that region have not and will not end come 2015. That date will mark the beginning of a new and expanded phase in the wars.