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French spy chief warns of 'end of Middle East'

Regime, Russian and coalition bombing have devastated cities and towns in Syria [AFP]

Date of publication: 28 October, 2015

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The conflicts in parts of the Middle East could lead to 'the end' of the region 'as we know it, Bernard Bajolet, head of France overseas intelligence service said Tuesday.

Bernard Bajolet, head of France's DGSE external intelligence agency, has warned that the Middle East was not likely to return to its old self following the current conflicts.

"The Middle East we have known is over, I doubt it will come back," he told the conference.

"We see that Syria is already divided on the ground, that the regime is controlling only a small part of the county, only one-third of the country which was established after WWII" he said.

"The north is controlled by the Kurds."

"We have the same thing in Iraq" Bajolet said, adding that "I doubt really that one can come back to the previous situation."

Most borders in the region were set by colonial powers after the First World War, according to the Skyes Picot Agreement, which carved up the Middle East into new states and statelets.

Nonetheless, he said he was "confident" that the region would one day stabilise again.

US CIA chief John Brennan said Tuesday that a military solution is "impossible" in parts of the Middle East, and argued that it was hard to picture effective central governments in some countries as they exist today.

Brennan, who spoke at an intelligence conference in Washington, was joined by other security officials and industry experts.

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"When I look at Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen," Brennan said, "it's hard for me to envision a central government in those countries that's going to be able to exert control or authority over the territory that was carved out post World War II."

"A military solution is just impossible in any of these countries," he added.

"You need to be able to bring down the temperature, try to de-escalate the conflict, build up some trust between the parties that are there, that are seriously interested by a peace settlement" he said.

Intelligence chiefs have been concerned by the growing turmoil in many parts of the Middle East, along with the profileration of extremist groups and the growing power of non-state actors.

This includes Syria and Iraq where the Islamic State group has taken control of huge swathes of territory and tore down border posts between the two countries.

The group has also used this as a base to threaten other governments in the region, while bombings claimed by the group have taken place in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

In June, Israel's deputy chief of staff said Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said the Syrian regime army has "for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist".

Other Israeli intelligence officers have predicted the break-up of Syria as a nation state.

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