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US-Pakistan Conflict Top US Risks In 2012

The euro crisis, political instability in Saudi Arabia and
conflict with Pakistan have emerged as top potential threats facing the
United States in 2012, an influential think-tank said Friday.
Council on Foreign Relation’s Center for Preventive Action anonymously
surveyed US officials and experts to compile an annual list of the most
plausible conflicts for the United States in the new year.
2012 list elevated several contingencies to the top tier of risks: an
intensified euro crisis, which could plunge the United States back into
recession; Saudi instability, which would threaten global oil supplies;
and a US conflict with Pakistan prompted by an attack or
counter-terrorism operation.
Threats that remained at the top of
the list from last year included a potential incident between the United
States and China, internal instability in Pakistan, intensified nuclear
crises with Iran or North Korea, and a spillover of drug-related
violence from Mexico.
Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on
Foreign Relations who focuses on conflict resolution, said that the
survey was designed to fill a gap as the US government has a poor record
forecasting future instability and conflict.
“It is a perennial
problem to get policymakers to focus on future challenges when dealing
with the tyranny of the inbox,” Zenko said, referring to the
overwhelming flow of messages.
“But in an age of austerity it has
never been more important to forecast, prevent or mitigate plausible
contingencies that could result in an expensive and long-lasting US
military involvement,” he said.
The survey also added Bahrain as a
“tier-two” risk to the United States, citing fears that growing
instability in the Sunni-ruled kingdom could spur fresh military action
by Saudi Arabia or Iran.

The survey elevated the risk of conflict
with Pakistan amid high tensions in 2011 following the US operation that
killed Osama bin Laden.
But the think-tank removed the potential
for military escalation between Pakistan and arch-rival India from the
top tier of risks.
Other risks that were downgraded or removed from last year included:
-Intensified military conflict between Sudan and South Sudan
-Renewed military conflict between Russia and Georgia
-Violent instability in Thailand
-Violent instability in Myanmar
-A succession crisis in Zimbabwe