US intel report: Virus impact to cause global 'aftershocks'

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FILE - This April 26, 2020, file photo shows empty lanes of the 110 Arroyo Seco Parkway that leads to downtown Los Angeles during the coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles, Calif. A U.S. intelligence community report says the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are expected to contribute over the next year to humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest, and geopolitical competition." The U.S. governments annual assessment of worldwide threats was released Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

WASHINGTON – The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are expected to contribute over the next year to “humanitarian and economic crises, political unrest, and geopolitical competition,” according to a new intelligence report that also warns about the threats from foreign adversaries and from violent extremists inside the United States.

The U.S. government's annual assessment of worldwide threats, released Tuesday ahead of congressional hearings expected to cover similar territory, charts a broad array of potential dangers anticipated by the intelligence community over the coming year. Its grim assessment of diverse threats echoes in some ways the conclusions of a separate intelligence report from last week that examined likely global challenges, including related to the pandemic, over the next 20 years.

“The American people should know as much as possible about the threats facing our nation and what their intelligence agencies are doing to protect them,” Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, said in a statement accompanying Tuesday's report.

The report raises concern over the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 3 million people worldwide, warning of the ways in which the recovery will “strain governments and societies.”

The pandemic has already disrupted crucial health services in certain areas of the world and will lead to continued health emergencies, and it has raised tensions as countries compete for advantage, according to the report. The economic fallout in developing countries has been especially severe, with food insecurity worldwide at its highest point in more than a decade, intelligence officials say.

“No country has been completely spared, and even when a vaccine is widely distributed globally, the economic and political aftershocks will be felt for years,” the report says.

The document focuses significant attention on threats from foreign countries, though those concerns are largely already known and frequently discussed.

China, the document warns, is likely to continue its efforts to spread its influence and undercut U.S. power, and is likely to press Taiwan to move toward unification with the mainland. Russia is likely to continue developing its military and cyber capabilities while also seeking "opportunities for pragmatic cooperation with Washington on its own terms.”