French-Turkish tensions have an American footprint

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — Islamic fighters trained by the CIA and Pentagon are at least partly responsible for escalating tensions between Turkey and France. Sounds like another big win for U.S. foreign policy and its many unintended consequences.

Not since Operation Cyclone, a CIA program supporting the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the former Soviet Union, have U.S. efforts to impose democracy and “freedom” in the Middle East been so sloppy.

French President Emmanuel Macron has adopted an aggressive approach to calling out Islamic terrorists and their often covert role in emerging conflicts. In this instance, the country moving jihadists around like pawns on a geopolitical chessboard is Turkey, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. America’s NATO partner has become a top broker for the jihadist gig economy.

In the case of some of these terrorists, it was the CIA and Pentagon that served as their Harvard of so-called “freedom fighting,” training them to fight in the Syrian civil war before abandoning them to an uncertain market for their skills.

Erdogan has become a one-man jihadist job-creation machine. And Macron has been pointing out Erdogan’s various initiatives, much to the Turkish president’s displeasure.

Macron has expressed concern about jihadist nests festering on Europe’s doorstep in Libya — a country from which France has already seen a flood of migration under the pretext of refuge from civil war. (That war was sparked at least in part by former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who helped spearhead the ouster of former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.)

Over the summer, Macron called Erdogan’s maneuvering in Libya “unacceptable,” accusing Turkey of being the primary source of intervention in that country and “massively reimporting jihadist fighters from Syria.” Macron did not seem impressed by Erdogan’s entrepreneurial verve in landing jobs for jihadists who were trained and then abandoned by America’s military industrial complex.

Former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis explained to me that Erdogan views the situation in Libya as an opportunity to “kill two birds with one stone.” On one hand, Erdogan is able to rid Syria of America of abandoned jihadist fighters. On the other, Erdogan is using them as cannon fodder to further his interests in Libya, a country that has long been beholden to Islamic terrorists and seems to be losing support of the international community as a result.

Earlier this month, Macron angered Erdogan once again by publicly lifting the lid on another Erdogan job-creation initiative for Syrian rebel terrorists — this time in Azerbaijan, as armed conflict broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces.

“According to our own information, 300 fighters left Syria to reach Baku via Gaziantep (in Turkey),” Macron said in a European Union summit in Brussels. “They are known, traced, identified, they come from jihadist groups operating in the Aleppo region.”

More recently, Macron irritated Erdogan by defending caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed as free expression after the beheading earlier this month of schoolteacher Samuel Paty, 47, near Paris. Paty had showed caricatures of Muhammad to his class during a discussion about freedom of speech.

In January 2015, Islamic terrorists killed 12 people and injured 11 others at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo magazine because of anger over a series of cartoons of Muhammad that the magazine had published.

Macron recently defended such cartoons as an exercise in free expression and described Islam as a religion “in crisis” worldwide. Erdogan is calling for a boycott of French goods and says that Macron had “lost his mind” — resulting in Paris recalling its ambassador from Ankara.

Meanwhile, the rock-and-roll world jihadist tour continues, except that it’s countries being destroyed rather than just luxury hotel suites. Also being destroyed is the persistent myth that the jihadists fighting in these conflicts just materialize out of nowhere and start hating on everyone’s freedom and democracy. Macron has been calling out the typically opaque trajectory of these terrorist actors, many of whom were spawned by the CIA and Pentagon in Syria during former U.S. President Barack Obama’s tenure.

Will the Washington institutions responsible for this mess ever learn their lesson? Or will the establishment persist in unleashing more mayhem on the world under the guise of protecting us all from the terrorism that it’s largely responsible for sparking?