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Iran, cyber warfare cited as leading threats to U.S. for 2019

December 17, 2018

High-profile cyber attacks on U.S. military and civilian infrastructure networks and a possible proxy war with Iran top the list of possible national security threats facing the U.S. in the coming year, according to a new survey of foreign policy and national security analysts.

The assessment, released by the Council on Foreign Relations on Monday, said there was a “moderate” chance of one of the two threats occurring in the coming year, but noted that either would have a severe impact on U.S. interests across the globe.

“The threat of a highly disruptive cyberattack on U.S. critical infrastructure and networks was the top-ranked homeland securityrelated contingency for 2019,” the Council wrote of its survey.

On Iran, analysts predicted that the worsening situation in Syria and Yemen could draw American forces in those countries closer to direct conflict with Iran and Iranian-backed elements.

“Continued violent reimposition of government control in Syria leading to further civilian casualties and heightened tensions among external parties to the conflict,” particularly with Iranian paramilitary forces, analysts noted. Meanwhile, the “worsening of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, exacerbated by ongoing foreign intervention in the civil war,” may also bring the U.S. closer to the brink of war with Tehran’s proxies.

Growing Sino-U.S., particularly for control of the South China Sea, also threatens to boil over into open conflict in 2019.

“Despite increasing apprehension over the growing geopolitical rivalry and potential for conflict between the United States and China, only one contingency in the region an armed confrontation in the South China Sea was considered a top-tier priority,” according to the Council survey.

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