The war in Yemen will continue for the "foreseeable future" as both the Houthis and Saudi-led coalition which intervened in March 2015 "remain far apart on terms for ending the conflict", an US intelligence report warned yesterday.
The 28-page document issued by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence assessed global threats with a special focus on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) which is under attack at the hands of terrorist groups including Daesh and Al-Qaeda.
The US believes that the deaths of former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh will likely "further complicate the conflict" as the Houthis will continue their political goals alone.
Iran, which supports the Houthis, will seek to expand its influence in the Middle East this year and remains a "primary threat" to US personnel in Iraq, the report continued. "Its unsafe and unprofessional interactions will pose a risk to US Navy operations in the Persian Gulf."
"Iran will seek to expand its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, where it sees conflicts generally trending in Tehran's favour, and it will exploit the fight against ISIS [Daesh] to solidify partnerships and translate its battlefields against into political, security and economic agreements."
"Tensions within many countries will rise, and the threat from Sunni violent extremist groups will evolve as they recoup after battlefield losses in the Middle East," the report added.
In Syria, the US believes the "conflict has decisively shifted in the Syria regime's favour, enabling Russia and Iran to further entrench themselves inside the country
Syria is likely to experience episodic conflict through 2018, even as Damascus recaptured most of the urban terrain and the overall level of violence decreases.
The cob-web of armed opposition groups and Sunni fighters in Syria are "probably no longer capable of overthrowing President Bashar Al-Assad or overcoming a growing military advantage", the report adds. Intelligence analysts have calculated that the Syrian armed opposition will most likely only have resources to continue its fight for at least "next year".
Daesh over the next year is expected to focus on "regrouping in Syria and Iraq" and enhancing its global presence. However, with Daesh receding its reach, Al-Qaeda remains "a major actor in global terrorism" and a threat to the US and Western interests, the report concludes.