The National Intelligence Council, a group under CIA Director George J. Tenet, has released a paper that is part of an effort by intelligence analysts to predict global events in the next 17 years.
For its Middle East section, one analyst predicts Iraq faces a broad range of outcomes, mostly bad. Baghdad in 2020 could have democraticlike rulers, such as those in current Lebanon, or could become a democratic "Switzerland-on-the-Tigris," the analyst states.
In its section on future "shocks," the paper lays out four negative outcomes, including the emergence in Iraq of a radical Islamic regime similar to Iran's dictatorship.
A secular dictator, like Tunisia's Ben Ali or another Saddam Hussein "without the brutality" is another future, the analyst says, adding "this outcome would have some stabilizing aspects, at least in the short term."
Iraq also could be hit by a civil war between now and 2020. "This would be very likely to draw in outside states, especially Turkey and Iran, with the danger of the conflict turning into an interstate war," the analyst says.