(WASHINGTON) — While John Kerry is making Syria the focus of his first international trip, the newly-minted secretary of state has likely already discovered that Syria is only one among many volatile situations around the world.
From the “genocidal type” war in Syria to the growing presence of al Qaeda affiliates in Northern Africa, former Gen. James Cartwright tells the ABC News/Yahoo! series On the Radar that he’s concerned about the growing number of potentially volatile regions around the world.
“They’re spreading rather than consolidating,” the retired general says of the dangerous areas around the world, known as hotspots. “Africa is probably the biggest one that we are…are seeing in the media right now with the Mali challenge, but that’s not limited to Mali.”
The growing threat of Africa can be traced in large part to the expansion of al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups such as al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM) — the group behind the recent hostage situation at a natural gas facility in Algeria. Cartwright says the threat posed by offspring al Qaeda groups in Africa shouldn’t be underestimated.
“It’s got the same potential to be as violent, certainly, as what we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, with even less governance than what they had in Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Cartwright of North Africa.
As for the Middle East, Gen. Cartwright warns that the continued civil war in Syria, which he describes as “genocidal type activity,” poses a long-term strategic threat to the security of the region.
“The longer this goes on, the less likely, or the longer it’s going to take to recover from it. And that’s probably more worrisome than anything else,” says Cartwright. “You’re going to have a Syria which sits in a very strategic position basically in a condition of disruption for tens of years.”
To hear more about the greatest threats Gen. Cartwright identifies to international security, including how soon he thinks Iran could have a nuclear weapon, check out this week’s On the Radar, an ABC/Yahoo! News series.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Euan McKirdy, Bryony Jones and Barry Neild, CNN
Holly Yan, CNN
Kevin Liptak, CNN