The expression “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” is a simplistic notion intended to explain the difficulty in putting together genuine international coalitions against terrorism. In reality, any armed group who uses violence as a means of achieving an extra-legal geopolitical or domestic gain should be condemned. This is especially true when such an organisation targets civilians, civilian infrastructure and those assigned a duty to keep the peace.
Yet it is because funding and arming such terrorist groups is an important tool of foreign policy for many states who put their supposed interests above both international law and a universal willingness to condemn terrorism, that there can never be a truly global war against terrorism.
Terrorism comes with many varying and competing ideologies attached ranging from religious extremists to the secular and violent – from the far left to the far right. There are also varieties of terrorism that use violence to promote otherwise obscure and obscurantist causes including eco-terrorism and its far-right companion eco-fascism.
In 2018, Turkey is a country having to fight terrorism not only on multiple geographic fronts but on multi-ideological fronts ranging from the far-right FETO led by the cultish Fethullah Gulen to the far-left PKK whose leader is the equally cultish Abdullah Ocalan. Turkey has been exposing Washington’s links with FETO for years, even though the fact that Fethullah Gulen enjoys a comfortable asylum in the United States in spite of Ankara’s frequent extradition requests for terrorism related charges, makes America’s links to FETO obvious. If the shoe was on the other foot and Turkey was sheltering a terrorist that the US knew was complicit in the 9/11 atrocity, one could image the outpouring of anger from the US.
Even more surprising from a purely ideological point of view is that since taking office, the Donald Trump led United States has increased its battle field relationship with the YPG, the Syria based branch of the PKK, a far-left group recognised internationally as a terrorist organisation. In spite of the fact that PKK/YPG members on both sides of the border commit atrocities against civilians including a rocket attack on a Turkish mosque and while their cells and supporters commit attacks on mosques frequented by Turks in Europe, it was only this week that the US agreed to a road map for peace in northern Syria which would include the disarming and expulsion from major cities of the YPG/PKK. It remains to be seen whether the US will keep its promise and break-off ties with the YPG/PKK.
The ideology of the YPG/PKK is a far-left blend of Trotskyism, so-called anarcho-communism and militant feminism. These are the kinds of ideologies that would generally not be welcomed anywhere near a Trump rally. And yet, the US government has in recent years funded far-left American anarchists, Trotskyists and like minded individuals to go to Syria and fight alongside the YPG/PKK in a move which represents a clear threat to the safety of the region and the territorial integrity of both Turkey and Syria. This gang of US funded marauders even made a technically polished propaganda video, apparently on Syrian soil where someone who sounds like an American adolescent chants battle cries in the name of the YPG/PKK while showing off deadly weapons. The only difference between this video and a Daesh propaganda video is the manner of speech and the slogans.
But if the Trump administration’s support for anti-Turkish, anti-Syrian and anti-international law far-left terrorists wasn’t strange enough when targeting fellow NATO member Turkey, the same thing is being done in respect of a far-left group targeting Iranian sovereignty. Geopolitical expert Andrew Korybko described Trump’s odd support for the MEK in the following way:
“The open support that leading figures of the Trump Administration have given to the “People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran” (officially called the “Mojahedin-e Khalq”, hence the conventional MEK abbreviation) is a betrayal of the President’s base. This organization can only be described as a cultish Islamo-communist terrorist group because of its attempts to fuse political Islam & communism, as well as its history of killing Americans that previously resulted in its inclusion on the State Department’s terrorist list until Hillary took them off in 2012. That said, Rudy Giuliani was previously on the group’s payroll as a lobbyist and speaker, while National Security Advisor John Bolton is one of its most influential advocates.
Prima facie, it’s inexplicable that a President who publicly takes such a strong stand against political Islam, communism, and terrorism would be close to two figures – one of whom is the US’ top advisor on national security issues – who are allied with an organization that embodies all three of the ideologies that Trump built his domestic reputation around opposing, but there’s actually a reason why the shadowy MEK has such prominent backers in the administration. Simply put, the MEK is the most effective Hybrid War weapon to ever be wielded against Iran, and Trump has no compunctions about following in Saddam Hussein’s footsteps and using the group against the Islamic Republic.
It’s Machiavellian to the core and embodies the simplistic mantra of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but this is nevertheless the strategy that the Trump Administration is applying as part of its “Plan B” against Iran. As some cynics like to say, “the ends justify the means”, and this Hyper-Realist mentality is indeed very effective in yielding results, though at the obvious expense of morals, ethics, and principles. Trump, who fashions himself as being the opposite of his predecessor in every sense, is actually continuing Obama’s legacy by “legitimizing” this Islamo-communist terrorist group that his hated rival Hillary removed from the State Department’s terrorist list”.
To be sure the US made “strange bedfellows” with both the YPG/PKK and MEK prior to Trump’s election, but under Trump support for both has skyrocketed all the while becoming far more overt. This is unsurprising as Trump’s flagrant disregard for diplomatic norms when dealing both with rivals, opponents and traditional allies has removed the mask of pseudo-politeness from America’s habitually aggressive geopolitical agenda.
Trump’s stance however does reveal a great deal of hypocrisy on his part and those around him. Trump and his cabinet members never shy away from criticising Venezuela, a country whose system of Marxist-Leninist influenced Bolivarian Socialism poses no security threat to the world and which is still seen by Venezuelan voters as the best possible choice of government in spite of crippling sanctions from the US and the lingering fall-out from the long-term decline in global oil prices. If it wasn’t hypocritical enough that Venezuela’s non-violent socialist model is a constant target for Trump, yet terror organisations like the PKK and MEK are on the payroll of the American military-industrial complex, then one has to examine what Trump’s supporters say about China.
People like Steve Bannon, generally considered a central figure in the “Trump movement” as well as radio host Alex Jones, a man who claims to have open lines of communication with Trump, are constantly lambasting China. Jones, seemingly allergic to the phrase “People’s Republic of China” speaks about the government in Beijing as the “Communist Chinese” in an odd throw back to the ultra-reactionary 1950s rhetoric of the John Bitch Society.
Thus, one is confronted with the reality of Trump and his political and media allies rhetorically lacerating left wing governments who pose no threat to the world while funding violent left wing terrorist groups who pose a direct threat to civilian life across many borders. If one wanted to look for anything close to consistency in geopolitical action and rhetoric, one ought to look as far away from the Trump administration as possible.