Analysis by Analogy: Myanmar is not Syria

September 27, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Many geopolitical analysts and commentators have noted many worthwhile similarities between the Syrian crisis and the one now unfolding in the Southeast Asian state of Myanmar. However, what is different about these two crises is just as important as what is the same.

The Similarities 

Particular focus has been placed on evidence emerging that US-ally Saudi Arabia is serving as an intermediary fueling militancy in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state. The militants, however, consist of a foreign armed, funded, and led cadre, constituting a numerically negligible minority of the Rohingya population they claim to represent, and are in fact no more representative of the Rohingya people than militants of Al Qaeda and the so-called “Islamic State” are representative of Syria or Iraq’s Sunni Muslim populations.

While it is crucial to point out the foreign-funded nature of a militancy attempting to co-opt the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, it is equally important to understand precisely where this militancy fits into Saudi Arabia’s and ultimately its American sponsors’ larger plans.

Another similarity pointed out by analysts is the use of US and European-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). These include larger organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as organizations on the ground in Myanmar funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its various subsidiaries including the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), Freedom House, USAID, and Open Society.

These organizations are intentionally seeking to control the narrative, inflame rather than smooth over tensions, and create a pretext for wider and more direct intervention in Myanmar’s expanding crisis by Western nations.

Analysts and commentators, however, cannot stop here. They must commit to equal due diligence in unraveling what stands behind Myanmar’s government – who it was that assisted them into power during the relatively recent 2016 elections, who built up their political networks across the country over the course of several decades, and what role their actions play in Western designs for the nation’s near and intermediate future.

The Differences 

Syria’s government is the creation and perpetuation of localized special interests – backed by various alliances ranging from the former Soviet Union in the past, to Russia, Iran, and to a lesser degree China in present day.

The United States and its Arab partners – particularly Saudi Arabia – have engineered militancy along and within Syria’s borders beginning in 2011 for the explicit purpose of overthrowing Syria’s government and dividing what remains of the nation among proxies and client regimes controlled from Washington, London, and Brussels.

 In Myanmar, while the US and its Saudi partners are apparently fueling militancy among the Rohingya population, it was the US itself who for decades built up the political networks of the current ruling regime, with Aung San Suu Kyi a whole-cloth creation of Western media narratives, immense funding and political support, and a carefully crafted facade to obfuscate from the public for decades the true, nationalist and even genocidal nature of Suu Kyi’s supposedly “Buddhist nationalist” support base.

An extensive 2006 report by Burma Campaign UK titled, “Failing the People of Burma?” (PDF), would reveal how virtually every facet of Myanmar’s current government is a creation of Western political and financial support. (Note: The US and UK still often refer to Myanmar by its British colonial name, “Burma”).

 

Image: Extensive efforts have been made to portray Myanmar’s head of state, Aung San Suu Kyi, as being opposed by ultra-violent nationalist “monks,” and many in the alternative media have wrongly concludes that the US seeks to pressure, even topple Suu Kyi from power. In reality, both Suu Kyi and her violent supporters are creations and a perpetuation of US cash and political support.

The report would lay this out in great detail, stating:

The restoration of democracy in Burma is a priority U.S. policy objective in Southeast Asia. To achieve this objective, the United States has consistently supported democracy activists and their efforts both inside and outside Burma…Addressing these needs requires flexibility and creativity. Despite the challenges that have arisen, United States Embassies Rangoon and Bangkok as well as Consulate General Chiang Mai are fully engaged in pro-democracy efforts. The United States also supports organizations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Institute (nb no support given since 2004) and Internews, working inside and outside the region on a broad range of democracy promotion activities. U.S.-based broadcasters supply news and information to the Burmese people, who lack a free press. U.S. programs also fund scholarships for Burmese who represent the future of Burma. The United States is committed to working for a democratic Burma and will continue to employ a variety of tools to assist democracy activists.

The 36-page report would enumerate US and European programs in detail – ranging from the creation and funding of media, to organizing political parties and devising campaign strategies for elections, to even scholarships abroad to indoctrinate an entire class of political proxies to be used well into the future upon transforming the nation into a client state. Virtually every aspect of life in Myanmar was targeted and overturned by Western-backed networks over the course of several decades and an untold amount of foreign-funding.

Similar evidence reveals that many of the so-called “Buddhist” nationalist groups also enjoy a close relationship with US and European interests and that they played a pivotal role in bringing Suu Kyi to power.

Additionally, many in Suu Kyi’s current government are the recipients of US-funded training. Narratives concerning the current Rohingya crisis are being crafted by Suu Kyi’s “Minister of Information,” Pe Myint.

Pe Myint was revealed in a 2016 article in the Myanmar Times titled, “Who’s who: Myanmar’s new cabinet,” to have participated in training funded by the US State Department. The article would report (emphasis added):

Formerly a doctor with a degree from the Institute of Medicine, U Pe Myint changed careers after 11 years and received training as a journalist at the Indochina Media Memorial Foundation in Bangkok. He then embarked on a career as a writer, penning dozens of novels. He participated in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa in 1998, and was also editor-in-chief of The People’s Age Journal. He was born in Rakhine State in 1949.

The Indochina Media Memorial Foundation is revealed in a US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks as fully funded by the US State Department through various and familiar intermediaries. The cable titled, “An Overview of Northern Thailand-Based Burmese Media Orgranizations.” would explicitly state (emphasis added):

Other organizations, some with a scope beyond Burma, also add to the educational opportunities for Burmese journalists. The Chiang Mai-based Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, for instance, last year completed training courses for Southeast Asian reporters that included Burmese participants. Major funders for journalism training programs in the region include the NED, Open Society Institute (OSI), and several European governments and charities.

Many of those among Myanmar-based US-funded “NGOs” apparently opposing Suu Kyi’s government are in fact alumni of the same US-funded programs as many members of the current government.

In essence, the primary difference between Myanmar and Syria is that while in Syria the US is fueling militancy to topple a government beyond its reach and influence, in Myanmar, the US is manipulating the entire nation via two vectors its controls entirely – a militancy it is growing on one side, and a political establishment it has created from whole-cloth on the other.

Moving Beyond Analysis by Analogy

Helping readers understand various aspects of the current crisis in Myanmar by comparing it to various aspects of Syria’s ongoing conflict can be instructive. However, drawing entire conclusions about the implications of the Myanmar conflict by simply assuming it is repeat of Western efforts in Syria is fundamentally flawed.

While the US seeks to divide and destroy the entire state of Syria, its efforts in Myanmar are concentrated to the western state of Rakhine with little possibility of spreading because of Myanmar’s demographics.

This is also precisely where China has invested deeply in its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) project, with a seaport in Sittwe, central Rakhine, and road, rail, and pipeline projects slated to expand onward toward China’s border and eventually Kunming.

Opposition in the form of local NGOs underwritten by US State Department cash, or violence covertly backed by the US and its intermediaries, have attempted to systematically disrupt Chinese infrastructure projects around the globe, including in Myanmar. Chinese-built dams in Myanmar are opposed by networks of US-funded NGOs, militant groups accused of receiving US backing have attacked Chinese projects throughout the nation, and the current conflict in Rakhine fueled on both sides by the US threaten to not only derail Chinese projects there, but may even serve as a pretext for positioning Western forces inside Myanmar – a nation that directly borders China.

Placing American forces – in any capacity – along China’s borders has been a long-term stated goal of US policymakers for decades. From the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers to the 2000 Project for a New American Century report, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” to former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “Pivot to Asia” policy, a singular theme of encircling and containing China either with client states obedient to Washington, or chaos all along China’s peripheries has prevailed.

It is clear that American designs in Syria and Myanmar employ similar networks and tactics and that both conflicts fit into a larger, global strategy. There are undoubtedly familiar themes emerging from both conflicts. However, what is different about Syria and Myanmar’s conflicts is just as important.

Analysts and commentators must account for the decades of US and European funding that placed the current government of Myanmar into power. They must account for the surgical nature of destabilization confined to Myanmar’s Rakhine state versus the full-spectrum destabilization being fueled in Syria. They must also identify the motives underpinning US designs in Myanmar.

Simply assuming that a US-Saudi-backed militancy exists to topple a government rather than grease the wheels for another, more indirect objective – one that perhaps even aims at preserving Myanmar’s current government rather than toppling it by pinning blame on the nation’s still powerful and independent military – will only aid rather than impede injustice. Analogies drawn from two different conflicts are only helpful in simplifying explanations and conclusions analysis by deep research have already arrived at.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.
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From the Philippines to Myanmar: “US to Fight US-Saudi Sponsored Terrorism”

 

September 8, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – With the recent attack on police in Myanmar by terrorists described by Reuters as “Muslim insurgents,” and ongoing terrorism plaguing the Philippines where forces are engaged with militants from the so-called “Islamic State,” it would appear that terrorism has spread into Southeast Asia with no signs of waning.

However, the sudden uptick in violence comes at a time when America’s so-called “pivot to Asia” has ground to a complete halt, providing the United States with an all-too-convenient pretext to reengage and establish itself across the region in a much more insidious manner.

US Sought Military Presence in Southeast Asia for Decades but Lacked a Pretext, Until Now 

The United States has openly conspired to establish and expand a permanent military presence in Southeast Asia as a means to confront, encircle, and contain China for decades.

As early as the Vietnam War, with the so-called “Pentagon Papers” released in 1969, it was revealed that the conflict was simply one part of a greater strategy aimed at containing and controlling China.

Three important quotes from these papers reveal this strategy. It states first that:

“…the February decision to bomb North Vietnam and the July approval of Phase I deployments make sense only if they are in support of a long-run United States policy to contain China.”

It also claims:

“China—like Germany in 1917, like Germany in the West and Japan in the East in the late 30′s, and like the USSR in 1947—looms as a major power threatening to undercut our importance and effectiveness in the world and, more remotely but more menacingly, to organize all of Asia against us.” 

Finally, it outlines the immense regional theater the US was engaged in against China at the time by stating:

“there are three fronts to a long-run effort to contain China (realizing that the USSR “contains” China on the north and northwest): (a) the Japan-Korea front; (b) the India-Pakistan front; and (c) the Southeast Asia front.” 

While the US would ultimately lose the Vietnam War and any chance of using the Vietnamese as a proxy force against Beijing, the long war against Beijing would continue elsewhere.

More recently, an American policy think tank, the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) in a 2000 paper titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (PDF) would unabashedly declare its intentions to establish a wider, permanent military presence in Southeast Asia.

The report would state explicitly that:

…it is time to increase the presence of American forces in Southeast Asia.

It would elaborate in detail, stating:

In Southeast Asia, American forces are too sparse to adequately address rising security requirements. Since its withdrawal from the Philippines in 1992, the United States has not had a significant permanent military presence in Southeast Asia. Nor can U.S. forces in Northeast Asia easily operate in or rapidly deploy to Southeast Asia – and certainly not without placing their commitments in Korea at risk. Except for routine patrols by naval and Marine forces, the security of this strategically significant and increasingly tumultuous region has suffered from American neglect. 

Noting the difficultly of placing US troops where they are not wanted, the PNAC paper notes:

This will be a difficult task requiring sensitivity to diverse national sentiments, but it is made all the more compelling by the emergence of new democratic governments in the region. By guaranteeing the security of our current allies and newly democratic nations in East Asia, the United States can help ensure that the rise of China is a peaceful one. Indeed, in time, American and allied power in the region may provide a spur to the process of democratization inside China itself.

It should be noted that the paper’s reference to “the emergence of new democratic governments in the region” is a reference to client states created by the United States on behalf of its own interests and in no way constituted actual “democratic governments” which would otherwise infer they represented the interests of the very people possessing the “national sentiments” that opposed US military presence in the region in the first place.

It should also be noted that in 2000, the United States was cultivating a number of such proxy governments across Southeast Asia including Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy in Myanmar, Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand, and Anwar Ibrahim in Malaysia.

Since 2000, all but one of these proxies have been removed from power with Anwar Ibrahim residing in prison and Thaksin Shinawatra fleeing Thailand to evade a 2 year jail term.

Only Suu Kyi managed to ascend to power as a result of billions spent by her US and European sponsors via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its numerous subsidiaries and affiliates. One of these affiliates – The US Institute of Peace – has openly enumerated how the US on virtually every imaginable level is now dictating the outcome of Myanmar’s development from directing its political processes to organizing its economy. It is also providing “technical assistance” on “counter-terrorism.”

In the Philippines, attempts by the US to reestablish its military presence and use the nation in its self-serving, elective conflict with Beijing has suffered many setbacks.

US to Fight US-Saudi Sponsored Terrorism in Asia

Most recently Washington found its relationship with Manila unraveling irrevocably in favor of Manila’s increasing ties with Beijing. This was until the fortuitous arrival of militants from the so-called “Islamic State” on the nation’s shores, overwhelming an entire city in the nation’s southern region.

In Myanmar, terrorists have likewise – suddenly – appeared and are operating on unprecedented levels just in time for another push by the United States to establish a permanent military presence in the country to provide “technical assistance” on “counter-terrorism.”

Such terrorists – however – have not simply sprung from oblivion. Such organizations conducting operations on the scale seen in the Philippines, southern Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar require immense sums of money, organizational capacity, logistical, and political support.

And indeed, it is confirmed that not only does such support exist, it flows from a very logical and familiar source of state-sponsored terrorism – America’s oldest and closest ally in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia.

The Wall Street Journal in an article titled, “Asia’s New Insurgency Burma’s abuse of the Rohingya Muslims creates violent backlash.” reports in regards to terrorism in Myanmar that (emphasis added):

Now this immoral policy has created a violent backlash. The world’s newest Muslim insurgency pits Saudi-backed Rohingya militants against Burmese security forces. As government troops take revenge on civilians, they risk inspiring more Rohingya to join the fight.

The Wall Street Journal elaborates, stating (emphasis added):

Called Harakah al-Yaqin, Arabic for “the Faith Movement,” the group answers to a committee of Rohingya emigres in Mecca and a cadre of local commanders with experience fighting as guerrillas overseas. Its recent campaign—which continued into November with IED attacks and raids that killed several more security agents—has been endorsed by fatwas from clerics in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the Emirates and elsewhere. 

Rohingyas have “never been a radicalized population,” ICG notes, “and the majority of the community, its elders and religious leaders have previously eschewed violence as counterproductive.” But that is changing fast. Harakah al-Yaqin was established in 2012 after ethnic riots in Rakhine killed some 200 Rohingyas and is now estimated to have hundreds of trained fighters.

The foreign-baked terrorism sponsored by Saudi Arabia and literally directed from within its own borders all-too-conveniently creates a pretext for US military presence in Myanmar it otherwise could not justify or in any shape, form, or way pursue.

A similar superhighway of cash and weapons flows from terrorists operating in the Philippines to Riyadh and its partners in Washington, resulting in a similar opportunity for the US to establish a permanent military presence there in reaction to a crisis of its own intentional engineering.

While the US proposes an expansive US military presence across Southeast Asia for “counter-terrorism” assistance, it is clear that it is Washington’s own aid and support to Riyadh that is at the very source of the security crisis and that simply withdrawing aid and penalizing this state sponsor of terrorism is the solution.

Yet the United States is not making this most logical of conclusions, nor is it taking this most obvious course of action – indicating full complicity with Saudi state-sponsorship of terrorism and placing responsibility for the death and destruction sown by terrorism across Southeast Asia squarely on Washington.

While the US frames its military presence in Southeast Asia as a cornerstone of peace and stability, it is in fact a policy representing a symptom of the sort of very real instability and chaos the United States and its self-proclaimed “international order” represents. It is particularly ironic that not only is the increasingly rampant terrorism across Southeast Asia a result of intentional Washington policy, it is being used as a pretext for setting the stage of a greater and potentially more devastating regional conflict with China.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Facing Defeat in Syria, ISIS Inexplicably Expands Globally

August 11, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Throughout human history, when a military force and its economic center has been defeated, it contracts, then collapses. For the first time in human history, the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS), has managed to reverse this fundamental aspect of reality – but not without help.

Facing defeat in Syria as government forces backed by its Russian and Iranian allies close in on the terrorist organization, stripping it of territory it seized, it has managed to spread far beyond Syria’s borders, establishing itself in Libya, Afghanistan, and even as far as Southeast Asia where it has seized an entire city in the Philippines’ south, and carried out attacks and conducting activities everywhere from Indonesia and Malaysia to allegedly Thailand’s deep south.

It should be remembered, according to Western governments and their media, the territory ISIS holds in Syria is allegedly providing it with the summation of its financial resources and thus the source of its fighting capacity. According to official statements, the US and its European allies allege that ISIS fuels its fighting capacity with “taxes” and extortion as well as black market oil sales – all of which are derived from territory it holds in Syria.

The Washington Post in a 2015 article titled, “How the Islamic State makes its money,” would note:

Weapons, vehicles, employee salaries, propaganda videos, international travel — all of these things cost money. The recent terrorism attacks in Paris, which the Islamic State has claimed as its own work, suggest the terrorist organization hasn’t been hurting for funding. David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, described the Islamic State last October as “probably the best-funded terrorist organization we have confronted” — deep pockets that have allowed the group to carry out deadly campaigns in Iraq, Syria and other countries. 

To explain where ISIS actually makes its money, the Washington Post claims:

Unlike many terrorist groups, which finance themselves mainly through wealthy donors, the Islamic State has used its control over a territory that is roughly the size of the U.K. and home to millions of people to develop diversified revenue channels that make it more resilient to U.S. offensives.

The Washington Post would also claim:

 Its main methods of generating money appear to be the sale of oil and antiquities, as well as taxation and extortion. And the group’s financial resources have grown quickly as it has captured more territory and resources: According to estimates by the Rand Corporation, the Islamic State’s total revenue rose from a little less than $1 million per month in late 2008 and early 2009 to perhaps $1 million to $3 million per day in 2014.

With this territory quickly shrinking and the intensity of fighting against what remains of ISIS in Syria and Iraq expanding, it is seemingly inexplicable as to how ISIS is expanding globally, instead of contracting and collapsing.

The Washington Post’s already implausible thesis regarding ISIS finances – based on official statements from the US Treasury Department and US corporate-funded policy think tanks like Rand – appears to be the only thing contracting and collapsing.

ISIS Enjoys Global Reach Many Nation-States Lack 

Regarding just how expansive ISIS’ global activities are, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson himself would claim in an August 1, 2017 statement that:

I think our next steps on the global war to defeat ISIS are to recognize ISIS is a global issue. We already see elements of ISIS in the Philippines, as you’re aware, gaining a foothold. Some of these fighters have gone to the Philippines from Syria and Iraq. We are in conversations with the Philippine Government, with Indonesia, with Malaysia, with Singapore, with Australia, as partners to recognize this threat, try to get ahead of this threat, and help them with training – training their own law enforcement capabilities, sharing of intelligence, and provide them wherewithal to anticipate what may be coming their direction.

Tillerson made these remarks after noting ISIS’ shrinking holdings in both Syria and Iraq. He claimed in regards to Iraq:

More than 70 percent of Iraqi territory that was once held by ISIS has been liberated and recovered. ISIS has been unable to retake any territory that it has been – that has been liberated, and almost 2 million Iraqis have returned home. And this is really the measure of success, I think, is when conditions are such that people feel like they can return to their homes. 

Regarding Syria, Tillerson would claim:

Similarly, over in Syria, we’re assisting with the liberation of Raqqa, which is moving at a faster pace than we originally anticipated.

The steps outlined by Tillerson to combat ISIS sidestep strategic fundamentals like identifying, isolating, and eliminating the economic and financial source of the organization’s fighting capacity, and instead focus on an indefinite justification for global US military operations – particularly across Southeast Asia at a time when the region is incrementally uprooting American influence and replacing it with Eurasian alliances, networks, as well as military and economic blocs.

For ISIS – fueled by resources found only within the boundaries of its meager and shrinking territorial holdings in Syria and Iraq – to be simultaneously fighting the national armies of Syria and Iraq, backed by Iran, Russia, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and allegedly a US-led coalition including dozens of countries, all while expanding its reach worldwide, including full-scale military operations in Southeast Asia, begs belief.

ISIS doing all of this with multi-billion dollar multinational state sponsorship, not only makes much more sense, it is the only explanation.

ISIS is State Sponsored 

Until recently, ISIS territory butted directly against the borders of NATO-member Turkey. In fact, looking at any map of the Syrian-Iraqi conflict with ISIS revealed what appeared to be logistical trails leading directly out of Turkey and to a lesser extent, Jordan.

A 2014 report from Germany’s public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, revealed a torrent of supplies, men, and weapons flowing daily over the Turkish-Syrian border, headed directly toward ISIS territory, directly under the nose and with the complicity of Turkish officials.

The report titled, “‘IS’ supply channels through Turkey,” would note:

Every day, trucks laden with food, clothing, and other supplies cross the border from Turkey to Syria. It is unclear who is picking up the goods. The haulers believe most of the cargo is going to the “Islamic State” militia. Oil, weapons, and soldiers are also being smuggled over the border, and Kurdish volunteers are now patrolling the area in a bid to stem the supplies.

So obvious was the logistical support for ISIS flowing from Turkey, that ISIS flags were clearly visible from the Turkish border throughout DW’s footage.

It was only until Russia’s military intervention in Syria upon Damascus’ request, that these logistical routes were targeted and significant pressure could be placed on ISIS inside Syria, rolling back its fighting capacity.

There is also the fact that ISIS and Al Qaeda along with their various affiliates and allies have swept alleged “moderate rebels” from the battlefield. These are alleged “rebel groups” that have supposedly received hundreds of billions of dollars of support from the US and its allies in the form of weapons, vehicles, training, logistical support, and even covert military support.
ISIS and Al Qaeda’s ability to sweep these forces from the battlefield indicates a fighting capacity driven by even greater financial support. But if ISIS has greater financial support than multi-billion dollar multinational state sponsorship, where is it getting it?
This question, coupled with the obvious fact that ISIS is indeed fueling its fighting capacity from well beyond the borders of territory it occupies, indicates that the US and its allies, including NATO-member Turkey, never were backing “moderate rebels,” and for the entire duration of the Syrian conflict – and even beforehand – were arming and supporting extremists, including Al Qaeda and those affiliates that would later form ISIS itself.
ISIS enjoys a global reach few nation-states could achieve because it is financially, politically, and militarily backed by nations with the resources to obtain that global reach. This includes the US itself, NATO, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) which in turn includes nations like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Qatar.
ISIS is America’s Foot in the Door in Southeast Asia 
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments regarding ISIS’ spread into Southeast Asia implied long-term US involvement in the region, including closer involvement with regional police and even military forces. In the Philippines, where US-Philippine relations were spiraling downward, the sudden appearance of ISIS there and the organization’s ability to seize an entire city led directly to justification for not only a continued US military presence in the country, but its expansion.
Other nations across Southeast Asia – including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand – have been incrementally pushing US influence out of the region in favor of stronger and more stable ties with each other and with neighboring China.
Thailand for instance, has begun replacing aging US military hardware with weapon systems from Russia, China, and Europe. Thailand has also begun joint military exercises with China, ending America’s post-Vietnam War monopoly. Thailand and Indonesia have also begun striking a series of economic and infrastructure deals with China, including immense expansions of their respective national railways.
As each nation has taken steps to move the US out of Asia, the US has increased pressure on each respective nation. It has done this through US-funded fronts posing as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and US-backed opposition movements. It also appears to be doing this through the introduction and expansion of ISIS activity in the region.
It should be remembered that it was the US itself that created Al Qaeda in the mountains of Afghanistan to fight the Soviets in the 1980s.
It was also the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in a leaked 2012 memo, that noted the US and its allies sought the creation of a “Salafist” (Islamic) “principality” (State) in eastern Syria precisely where the Islamic State currently resides. The purpose of creating this terrorist organization was to “isolate the Syrian regime.” Thus, it is all but admitted that ISIS is a tool of US geopolitical manipulation. If it created and used ISIS in Syria to “isolate the Syrian regime,” why would it hesitate to likewise use it in Southeast Asia to reverse its waning fortunes?

The 2012 report (.pdf) states (emphasis added):

If the situation unravels there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).

Tillerson’s comments regarding ISIS are in essence, a veiled threat – a threat of long-term chaos sown by ISIS that will continue without expansive capitulation to US interests, including an expanding US military footprint in the region, conveniently in a region the US has long designated as essential toward the geopolitical, military, and economic encirclement and isolation of a rising China.
However, such a ploy cannot unfold if the nations of Southeast Asia both expose this reality, and align themselves with nations truly invested in the defeat of ISIS, including Russia and China – the ultimate targets of America’s geopolitical ambitions and the final destination for America’s global terrorist proxies.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The (In)significance of Baghdadi Being “Dead”

Hopeful onlookers should recall how Bin Laden’s death was followed by the expansion of terrorism, not its defeat.



July 11, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Reports have once again emerged that the supposed leader of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed – possibly in a recent Russian airstrike in Syria.

News confirming the death of Baghdadi, would appear to have significant implications regarding the terrorist organization and its now global-spanning operations stretching from North Africa, across the Middle East and Central Asia, and even reaching into Southeast Asia as ISIS-linked militants continue to occupy a city in the south of the Philippines.

However, beyond the possibility of undermining the US rationale for maintaining a significant and growing military presence across regions of the planet inflicted with ISIS operations, Baghdadi’s death would have little to no impact at all on these actual operations.

ISIS is a State-Sponsored Militant Proxy – Not an Independent Organization 

ISIS is first and foremost a proxy military organization, created by and for the state sponsors that fuel it politically, financially, and militarily. As revealed in a 2012 US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) document (PDF), these include the United States itself, its European partners, NATO-member Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan, as well as Israel.

The summation of ISIS’ fighting capacity stems from a torrent of cash, weapons, supplies, and military protection provided to the group, particularly in the establishment of safe havens within Turkey, Jordan, and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights where Syria and its allies are unable to strike.

Image: US presence in Syria is large and growing. It will only “pull the plug” on ISIS if it plans on replacing it with something more permanent. ISIS itself has many other “safe houses” worldwide to preserve itself in, courtesy of US foreign policy.

Within Syria itself, virtual safe havens have been likewise established by US and Turkish occupations, preventing Syria and its allies – including Russia and Iran – from fully rooting the organization from within Syria’s borders. On numerous occasions, Syrian forces have even come under direct US military attack while engaging ISIS militants.

Furthermore, as the US footprint in Syria expands, its need for ISIS as a pretext to build the necessary infrastructure to encircle and pressure Damascus with wanes. Replacing ISIS with something more permanent – such as US occupied “safe zones” Syrian forces and its allies cannot attack – appears to already be underway. “Pulling the plug” on ISIS in Syria would be of paramount political convenience, allowing ISIS fighters to redeploy to other “safe houses” US foreign policy has afforded them – particularly Libya and Afghanistan.

The death of a single figurehead – under these geopolitical conditions – would have virtually no impact on the organization. Only identifying, exposing, and disrupting the state-sponsorship of ISIS would impact its activities on the ground in any of the now numerous countries it is operating.

Bin Laden’s “Death” Followed by Al Qaeda’s Renascence

In many ways, the death of Al Qaeda’s supposed leader – Osama Bin Laden – was nothing more than America’s way of closing the book of “Al Qaeda the villain” and opening another where the villainous nature of Al Qaeda could be portrayed as somewhat more ambiguous – with its activities, agenda, and motives running parallel to that of Washington and its allies – and at times – cooperating with the West.

While many believed the death of Bin Laden would be followed by the fall of Al Qaeda, today the terrorist organization has standing armies in Syria, Libya, and Iraq, with the entire northern Syrian city of Idlib under its control and sections of Libya ruled by warlords tied to the terrorist organization, thrust into power by NATO’s 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.

There is also Al Qaeda’s lingering presence even in Afghanistan itself where the US is preparing to enter its seventeenth year of occupation allegedly aimed at preventing the Central Asian state from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorism – despite clearly being one at the moment.

ISIS Will Effortlessly Survive Baghdadi’s “Death”  

The elimination of these figureheads – whether it is Baghdadi or his predecessor Bin Laden – serves only to manipulate the narratives behind which geopolitical agendas unfold. The agendas themselves, along with the wealth and power driving them, require a much more robust and practical approach to challenge, obstruct, or defeat altogether.

The process of identifying the sources of wealth and power, as well as practical alternatives that can challenge and eventually replace them upon the geopolitical gameboard are the only means of truly defeating the sort of proxy terrorism Al Qaeda and ISIS represent. Before this takes place, more immediate, but costly and uncertain military operations like those currently underway by various nations around the globe including in Syria seek to isolate and eliminate proxy terrorism within their specific borders.

Such military campaigns are not only costly, but ultimately unsustainable if the root cause of proxy terrorism and the state sponsors perpetuating and exploiting it are not ultimately dealt with. As long as the true source of ISIS’ power remains intact in Washington, London, Brussels, Ankara, Riyadh, and Doha, ISIS itself will effortlessly survive Baghdadi’s otherwise insignificant passing.

Tehran Was Always America’s and Thus the Islamic State’s Final Destination

June 10, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Several were left dead and many more injured after coordinated terror attacks on Iran’s capital of Tehran. Shootings and bombings targeted Iran’s parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

According to Reuters, the so-called “Islamic State” claimed responsibility for the attack, which unfolded just days after another terror attack unfolded in London. The Islamic State also reportedly took responsibility for the violence in London, despite evidence emerging that the three suspects involved were long-known to British security and intelligence agencies and were simply allowed to plot and carry out their attacks.

It is much less likely that Tehran’s government coddled terrorists -as it has been engaged for years in fighting terrorism both on its borders and in Syria amid a vicious six-year war fueled by US, European, and Persian Gulf weapons, cash, and fighters.

Armed Violence Targeting Tehran Was the Stated Goal of US Policymakers

The recent terrorist attacks in Tehran are the literal manifestation of US foreign policy. The creation of a proxy force with which to fight Iran and establishing a safe haven for it beyond Iran’s borders have been long-stated US policy. The current chaos consuming Syria and Iraq – and to a lesser extent in southeast Turkey – is a direct result of the US attempting to secure a base of operations to launch a proxy war directly against Iran.

In the 2009 Brookings Institution document titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” the use of then US State Department-listed foreign terrorist organization Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) as a proxy for instigating a full-fledged armed insurgency not unlike that which is currently unfolding in Syria was discussed in detail.

The report explicitly stated:

The United states could also attempt to promote external Iranian opposition groups, providing them with the support to turn themselves into full-fledged insurgencies and even helping them militarily defeat the forces of the clerical regime. The United states could work with groups like the Iraq-based National council of resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its military wing, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MeK), helping the thousands of its members who, under Saddam Husayn’s regime, were armed and had conducted guerrilla and terrorist operations against the clerical regime. although the NCRI is supposedly disarmed today, that could quickly be changed.

Brookings policymakers admitted throughout the report that MEK was responsible for killing both American and Iranian military personnel, politicians, and civilians in what was clear-cut terrorism. Despite this, and admissions that MEK remained indisputably a terrorist organization, recommendations were made to de-list it from the US State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organization registry so that more overt support could be provided to the group for armed regime change.

Based on such recommendations and intensive lobbying, the US State Department would eventually de-list MEK in 2012 and the group would receive significant backing from the US openly. This included support from many members of current US President Donald Trump’s campaign team – including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, and John Bolton.

However, despite these efforts, MEK was not capable then or now of accomplishing the lofty goal of instigating full-fledged insurrection against Tehran, necessitating the use of other armed groups. The 2009 Brookings paper made mention of other candidates under a section titled, “Potential Ethnic Proxies,” identifying Arab and Kurdish groups as well as possible candidates for a US proxy war against Tehran.

Under a section titled, “Finding a Conduit and Safe Haven,” Brookings notes:

Of equal importance (and potential difficulty) will be finding a neighboring country willing to serve as the conduit for U.S. aid to the insurgent group, as well as to provide a safe haven where the group can train, plan, organize, heal, and resupply.

For the US proxy war on Syria, Turkey and Jordan fulfill this role. For Iran, it is clear that US efforts would have to focus on establishing conduits and safe havens from Pakistan’s southwest Balochistan province and from Kurdish-dominated regions in northern Iraq, eastern Syria, and southeastern Turkey – precisely where current upheaval is being fueled by US intervention both overtly and covertly.

Brookings noted in 2009 that:

It would be difficult to find or build an insurgency with a high likelihood of success. The existing candidates are weak and divided, and the Iranian regime is very strong relative to the potential internal and external challengers.

A group not mentioned by Brookings in 2009, but that exists in the very region the US seeks to create a conduit and safe haven for a proxy war with Iran, is the Islamic State. Despite claims that it is an independent terrorist organization propelled by black market oil sales, ransoms, and local taxes, its fighting capacity, logistical networks, and operational reach demonstrates vast state sponsorship.

The Ultimate Proxy, the Perfect Conduit and Safe Haven

The Islamic State reaching into Iran, southern Russia, and even as far as western China was not only possible, it was inevitable and the logical progression of US policy as stated by Brookings in 2009 and verifiably executed since then.

The Islamic State represents the perfect “proxy,” occupying the ideal conduit and safe haven for executing America’s proxy war against Iran and beyond. Surrounding the Islamic State’s holdings are US military bases, including those illegally constructed in eastern Syria. Were the US to wage war against Iran in the near future, it is likely these assets would all “coincidentally” coordinate against Tehran just as they are now being “coincidentally” coordinated against Damascus.

The use of terrorism, extremists, and proxies in executing US foreign policy, and the use of extremists observing the Islamic State and Al Qaeda’s brand of indoctrination was demonstrated definitively during the 1980’s when the US with the assistance of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan – used Al Qaeda to expel Soviet forces from Afghanistan. This example is in fact mentioned explicitly by Brookings policymakers as a template for creating a new proxy war – this time against Iran.

For the US, there is no better stand-in for Al Qaeda than its successor the Islamic State. US policymakers have demonstrated a desire to use known terrorist organizations to wage proxy war against targeted nation-states, has previously done so in Afghanistan, and has clearly organized the geopolitical game board on all sides of Iran to facilitate its agenda laid out in 2009. With terrorists now killing people in Tehran, it is simply verification that this agenda is advancing onward.

Iran’s involvement in the Syrian conflict illustrates that Tehran is well aware of this conspiracy and is actively defending against it both within and beyond its borders. Russia is likewise an ultimate target of the proxy war in Syria and is likewise involved in resolving it in favor of stopping it there before it goes further.

China’s small but expanding role in the conflict is linked directly to the inevitability of this instability spreading to its western Xianjiang province.

While terrorism in Europe, including the recent London attack, is held up as proof that the West is “also” being targeted by the Islamic State, evidence suggests otherwise. The attacks are more likely an exercise in producing plausible deniability.

In reality, the Islamic State – like Al Qaeda before it – depends on vast, multinational state sponsorship – state sponsorship the US, Europe, and its regional allies in the Persian Gulf are providing. It is also sponsorship they can – at anytime of their choosing – expose and end. They simply choose not to in pursuit of regional and global hegemony.

The 2009 Brookings paper is a signed and dated confession of the West’s proclivity toward using terrorism as a geopolitical tool. While Western headlines insist that nations like Iran, Russia, and China jeopardize global stability, it is clear that they themselves do so in pursuit of global hegemony.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The West’s War on Free Speech

June 6, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – With a name like the “National Democratic Institute” (NDI) one might expect the US State Department-funded, corporate-financier chaired front to be the premier proponent of freedom and democracy worldwide. And although it poses as such, it does precisely the opposite. It uses principles like free speech, democracy, press freedom, and human rights as a facade behind which it carries out a politically motivated agenda on behalf of the special interests that fund and direct its activities.

In a recent Tweet, NDI linked to a New York Times article titled, “In Europe’s Election Season, Tech Vies to Fight Fake News.” It claimed in the Tweet that the article featured:

A look at some of the projects aiming to use automated algorithms to identify and combat fake news. 

The article itself though, reveals nothing short of a global effort by US tech-giants Google and Facebook, in collaboration with the Western media, to censor any and all media that fails to align with Western-dominated narratives.

The article itself claims:

The French electorate heads to the polls in the second round of presidential elections on May 7, followed by votes in Britain and Germany in the coming months. Computer scientists, tech giants and start-ups are using sophisticated algorithms and reams of online data to quickly — and automatically — spot fake news faster than traditional fact-checking groups can. 

The goal, experts say, is to expand these digital tools across Europe, so the region can counter the fake news that caused so much confusion and anger during the United States presidential election in November, when outright false reports routinely spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter.

The article then explains that once “fake news” is spotted, it is expunged from the Internet. It reports that:

After criticism of its role in spreading false reports during the United States elections, Facebook introduced a fact-checking tool ahead of the Dutch elections in March and the first round of the French presidential election on April 23. It also removed 30,000 accounts in France that had shared fake news, a small fraction of the approximately 33 million Facebook users in the country.

Were foreign government-linked tech companies purging tens of thousands of accounts ahead of elections in say, Thailand or Russia, it is very likely organizations like NDI and media platforms like the New York Times would cry foul, depicting it as censorship.

In determining what is and isn’t “fake news,” the New York Times offers some clues (emphasis added):

Using a database of verified articles and their artificial intelligence expertise, rival groups — a combination of college teams, independent programmers and groups from existing tech companies — already have been able to accurately predict the veracity of certain claims almost 90 percent of the time, Mr. Pomerleau said. He hopes that figure will rise to the mid-90s before his challenge ends in June.

In other words, “fake news” is determined by comparing it directly to narratives presented by establishment media platforms like the New York Times, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and others who have notorious track records of serial deception, false reporting, and even war propagandizing.

Nowhere does the New York Times explain how these “verified articles” have been determined to be factually accurate, and instead, it appears that all these algorithms are doing is ensuring all media falls in line with Western narratives.

If media in question coincides with Western-dominated media platforms, it is given a pass – if not, it is slated for expunging as described elsewhere in the New York Times’ piece.

Thus, the National Democratic Institute, who claims on its website to “support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government,” finds itself promoting what is essentially a worldwide agenda of malicious censorship, manipulating the perception of the globe’s citizenry, not supporting or strengthening it’s participation in any sort of honest political process.

To answer the question as to what the NDI is referring to when it claims other nations are “censoring” free speech and press freedoms, it involves defending local fronts funded by the NDI and its parent organization, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) who merely repeat Western propaganda in local languages and with local spins. When foreign nations attempt to deal with these instances of “fake news,” US fronts like NDI and NED depict it as censorship.

While the West poses as the premier champion of free speech, citizen participation, openness, and accountability, the New York Times article reveals an unfolding plan to utterly crush any narrative that deviates from Western media talking points, thus controlling citizen perception, not encouraging “participation,” and ensuring that the West alone determines what is “opened” and held “accountable.”

No worse scenario can be referenced in human history or even among human fiction than plans to determine for the world through automatic algorithms and artificial intelligence almost in real time what is heard and read and what isn’t. It is even beyond the scope and scale of George Orwell’s cautionary dystopian “1984” novel.

In a truly free society, an educated citizenry is capable of deciding for itself what is “fake news” and what isn’t. Because of the rise of alternatives to the West’s monopoly over global information, many people are doing just that – determining that Western narratives are in fact deceptions. At no other point in modern history has the Western media faced as many alternatives, and as much skepticism on this scale, as well as an ebbing of trust domestically and abroad. It is no surprise then, to find the West resorting to outright censorship, even if it cushions mention of it with terms like “fake news.”

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Islamic State in Asia: Saudi-Funding and Naive Policymakers Endanger Region

June 1, 2017 (Joseph Thomas – NEO) – Recently, terrorist attacks have unfolded across Indonesia, a militant network disrupted along the Thai-Malaysian border and full-scale military operations including aerial bombing deployed as Philippine troops fought to take back Marawi City on the southern island of Mindanao, all linked or affiliated with the Islamic State.

A dangerously deceptive narrative is being crafted by US and European media organisations, the same sort of narrative that was used to conceal the true source of the Islamic State’s fighting capacity across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region beginning as early as 2011.

The New York Times, for example, in an article titled, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” claims:

An eruption of violence in the southern Philippines and suicide bombings in Indonesia this week highlight the growing threat posed by militant backers of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia. 

While the timing of the Jakarta bombings and the fighting on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao appears to be coincidental, experts on terrorism have been warning for months that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has provided a new basis for cooperation among extremists in the region.

However, back in reality, the Islamic State is no different than any other military force. Its members require food, water and shelter daily. They require weapons and ammunition. They require uniforms. They need transportation, which in turn requires fuel, maintenance personnel and spare parts. And most important of all, the Islamic State requires a steady stream of recruits made possible only through organised education and indoctrination.

For the scale the Islamic State is doing this on, stretching across MENA and now reaching into Southeast Asia, confounding the response of not just individual nation-states but entire blocs of nations attempting to confront this growing threat, it is abundantly clear the Islamic State is not fulfilling these prerequisites on its own.

Its doing this all through state sponsorship, a reality rarely mentioned by the New York Times,  Agence France-Presse, Associated Press, CNN, the BBC and others. Those acquiring their worldview through these media organisations are setting themselves up and those depending on their analysis for tragic failure.

Education and Indoctrination: Who is Feeding the Fire?  

The ranks of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia are being filled by a regional network of extremist indoctrination conducted in institutions posing as Islamic boarding schools known as madrasas. Those institutions indoctrinating local populations with notions of extremism and inspiring them to take up violence and terrorism share a common denominator; Saudi funding.

Visiting Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University, Yousaf Butt, in a Huffington Post article titled, “How Saudi Wahhabism Is the Fountainhead of Islamist Terrorism,” would put Saudi funding of such extremist networks into perspective, stating:

It would be troublesome but perhaps acceptable for the House of Saud to promote the intolerant and extremist Wahhabi creed just domestically. But, unfortunately, for decades the Saudis have also lavishly financed its propagation abroad. Exact numbers are not known, but it is thought that more than $100 billion have been spent on exporting fanatical Wahhabism to various much poorer Muslim nations worldwide over the past three decades. It might well be twice that number. By comparison, the Soviets spent about $7 billion spreading communism worldwide in the 70 years from 1921 and 1991.

The article also lays out the cause and effect between Saudi funding and the predictable terrorism, violence and instability that follows. Yousaf Butt concludes by aptly stating:

The House of Saud works against the best interests of the West and the Muslim world. Muslim communities worldwide certainly need to eradicate fanatical Wahhabism from their midst, but this will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish if the West continues its support of the House of Saud. The monarchy must be modernized and modified — or simply uprooted and replaced. The House of Saud needs a thorough house cleaning.

The United States under the administration of President Donald Trump just sealed a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, following tens of billions of dollars of weapon deals under the previous administration of President Barack Obama, and in turn following a pattern of decades of military, political and economic support for the Persian Gulf state. Western support for the House of Saud appears to be fully intact and in no danger of changing any time soon.

The direct connection between terrorism ranging from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State and Saudi-funded indoctrination is clear. Yet US and European media organisations attempt to muddle the issue with unwarranted ambiguity.

New York Times articles like, “Saudis and Extremism: ‘Both the Arsonists and the Firefighters’,” go as far as stating:

Over the next four decades, in non-Muslim-majority countries alone, Saudi Arabia would build 1,359 mosques, 210 Islamic centers, 202 colleges and 2,000 schools. Saudi money helped finance 16 American mosques; four in Canada; and others in London, Madrid, Brussels and Geneva, according to a report in an official Saudi weekly, Ain al-Yaqeen. The total spending, including supplying or training imams and teachers, was “many billions” of Saudi riyals (at a rate of about four to a dollar), the report said.

And continues by stating:

That is the disputed question, of course: how the world would be different without decades of Saudi-funded shaping of Islam. Though there is a widespread belief that Saudi influence has contributed to the growth of terrorism, it is rare to find a direct case of cause and effect. For example, in Brussels, the Grand Mosque was built with Saudi money and staffed with Saudi imams. In 2012, according to Saudi diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, one Saudi preacher was removed after Belgian complaints that he was a “true Salafi” who did not accept other schools of Islam. And Brussels’ immigrant neighborhoods, notably Molenbeek, have long been the home of storefront mosques teaching hard-line Salafi views. 

After the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and in Brussels in March were tied to an Islamic State cell in Belgium, the Saudi history was the subject of several news media reports. Yet it was difficult to find any direct link between the bombers and the Saudi legacy in the Belgian capital.

Yet commonsense, when applied, takes into consideration the substantial intelligence networks and police states that exist across the European Union’s various members and the fact that in the aftermath of most recent terrorist attacks it is revealed that security services across Europe often had foreknowledge of suspects, their criminal backgrounds and activities as well as their ties to extremism both within their own communities in Europe and abroad upon battlefields in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya.

It is well within the means of US and European intelligence and security agencies to establish a direct link between terrorism and Saudi funding. What is lacking is the political will to do so.


A Global Expeditionary Force That Goes Where Western Troops Cannot

It is clear that despite the New York Times attempting to make a connection between Saudi-funded indoctrination at mosques and madrasas and terrorism as ambiguous as possible, Saudi funding is the primary factor driving extremism and filling the ranks of terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Coupled with covert, indirect and direct military support when these extremists reach various battlefields around the world, Saudi-funded extremism represents what is essentially a mercenary expeditionary force, auxiliaries used in pursuit of modern day empire.

As witnessed in Libya and Syria, the purpose behind the United States and Europe supporting Saudi Arabia and turning an intentional blind-eye to its global network of extremist indoctrination and the terrorist organisations these networks feed into, is targeting and overthrowing governments the United States and Europe are incapable of overthrowing directly with military force.

Saudi-funded indoctrination filling the ranks of this virtual global mercenary force, can be used as a tool for regime change. Saudi-funded extremists were instrumental in overthrowing the Libyan government in 2011, and have led the fight to oust the Syrian government.

Saudi-funded indoctrination can also be a useful tool of geopolitical coercion, opening up opportunities for the US to sell a greater military presence in any given country targeted by Saudi-funded extremism.

In fact, the New York Times’ recent article, “In Indonesia and Philippines, Militants Find a Common Bond: ISIS,” hints as just such a motive in the Philippines, claiming:

Since the early 2000s, the United States has stationed military advisers in the southern Philippines to aid in the fight against Abu Sayyaf and other Islamic extremists. 

Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at De La Salle University in Manila, said that Mr. Duterte was under mounting pressure to address the crisis in his home island, Mindanao, and that he may need further assistance from Washington.

During a period when the Philippines finds itself pivoting away from the United States and toward Beijing and other regional allies, needing “further assistance from Washington” is a circumstance too convenient to be coincidental.

Considering how the US has used Saudi-funded extremism it has enabled elsewhere, there is need for concern not only in the Philippines, but across all of Asia regarding the Islamic State’s “sudden interest” in the region.

Asian Policymakers Only As Good As Their Sources 

As obvious as the truth behind the Islamic State’s presence and perpetuation in Asia seems to be, many policymakers, politicians and people in the media across Asia appear to be mesmerised by US and European headlines and intentionally misleading analysis.

Eagerly republishing and repeating these headlines and analysis, policy and media circles find themselves mired in a deepening swamp of delusion. Within this swamp of delusion they are exposing Asia to the same threat the MENA region is now facing.

For a variety of reasons, extremism was allowed to take root and spread in nations like Libya and Syria, where political deals and cooperation with the US and Europe led toward greater violence and destabilisation, not toward resolving the issue of extremism, terrorism and national or regional security.

Likewise in Asia, should the root of extremism and terrorism not be addressed, namely Saudi-funding and America’s and Europe’s aiding and abetting of the House of Saud, this threat will continue to be cultivated and leveraged by its creators at the cost of its Asian hosts.

While it may not be politically popular to openly expose, condemn and otherwise confront US-Saudi sponsored terrorism in fear of being ostracised from US-European media and policy circles, Asian policymakers, politicians and media should consider the fate of their MENA counterparts and the state of Libya and Syria now versus pre-2011 when there was still a chance to head off a regional humanitarian catastrophe.

The inability of Asian policymakers to clearly single out and deal with Saudi-funded, US-backed terrorism in the region allows political demagogues to play entire ethnic and religious groups off against one another, further compounding factors that fuel instability and even war. Coupled with socioeconomic factors, foreign interests seeking vectors into Asia to coerce, control or even overthrow regional governments have a wide variety of options to pick from.

Eliminating these options and closing the door to outside interference means that the Asian public must be fully and properly informed, and all forms of foreign funding and support, whether it be “schools” or nongovernmental organisations, should be called into question. It is clear that part of this process should include national and regional calls and mechanisms to end Saudi funding to organisations posing as charities, educational institutions and other fronts propagating divisive extremism.

Considering the fate of the MENA region, Asia may have only one chance to get this right. Those policymakers who prove themselves incapable of objective, truthful analysis and who find themselves simply helping along foreign interference should no longer be deferred to as policymakers, and perhaps take up a more appropriate title; lobbyists.

Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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