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'State sponsor of terror' list as a propaganda tool of US war machine

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)

By Shabbir Rizvi

More than two years have passed since Cuba, the largest island nation in the Caribbean, was designated as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” by then-Donald Trump administration in Washington.

Cuba, which has been illegally blockaded by the United States for more than six decades, poses no threat to the United States or any other country for that matter.

There is no record of Cubans supporting terrorist groups - financially, logistically, or otherwise.

Trump's successor, Joe Biden, has refused to remove Cuba from the blacklist, despite not only domestic backlash but worldwide condemnation of the move.

One might reasonably scratch his head at Trump’s designation and Biden’s refusal to remove the label.

What terrorism has Cuba exactly sponsored? What act of terror has been approved by Havana? How many lives have been lost due to this so-called “Cuban terror?” Perhaps if rolling nice cigars were an act of terror, Cuba would surely be a terrorist state.

The fact of the matter is there is no record of Cuba committing any acts of terror - anywhere.

In fact, most people familiar with Cuban history would tell you that when they think of terrorism, they think of Cuban de Aviación Flight 455 - a civilian airliner that was blown up by anti-Castro terrorists trained and sheltered by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

At least 73 civilians were killed, including the entire Cuban fencing team, while on a flight from Barbados to Jamaica in the carnage.

A closer examination of what exactly means for it to be a “State Sponsor of Terror” in the United States would make one see the full picture.

It has nothing to do with terrorism. It has everything to do with applying political pressure and sanctions.

As the official designation declares “..the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on US foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual-use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.”

The 'State Sponsor of Terrorism' label is just another tool in the US imperialist playbook to not only further sanctions and economically strangle countries, but the label of “terrorism” plays a key role in shaping public opinion about those countries worldwide.

The designation discourages one from engaging with that state, creating a false image of it. It serves as propaganda meant to align Americans to the US military-industrial complex's imperialist conquest.

Ultimately, the false label allows the US to suffocate a country such as Cuba without any plausible reason.

Joining Cuba on this list are the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea), and the Syrian Arab Republic - all countries that have fended off and neutralized not only US sanctions for decades but the threat of actual war as well.

While the United States insists that these countries are “sponsors of terror”, the US State Department has removed terrorist groups from its own list of designated terrorist groups and their affiliates.

Most recently, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), or the East Turkestan Islamic Movement(ETIM) was removed. TIP participated on the side of Al-Qaeda in Syria. The US State Department first designated TIP as a terrorist group shortly after the September 11 attacks in the US.

But now, TIP has become a favorable organization in the eyes of Washington. They are fighting alongside Al Nusra in Syria, vowing to overthrow the Syrian government.

They have routinely participated in joint military ventures with Takfiri terrorists. But, even more importantly, TIP has been carrying out terrorist attacks in China - the number one economic rival of the US.

TIP has targeted Chinese development projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is projected to facilitate billions of dollars of revenue annually.

Since putting breaks on the seemingly unstoppable economic march of Beijing is a top priority for the US, it is no surprise Washinton would drop TIP from its list of terrorist groups. They need the terrorist group to continue its work, as long as they stay in line.

Of course, the US also removed the highly notorious terrorist group MKO (Mujahadin-e Khalq) from its terrorist group list in 2012. The group, now based in Albania, killed thousands of Iranian civilians during former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s imposed war on Iran.

It was designated as a terror group in the late 1990s and remained on the list throughout the Bush administration, despite Iran being seen as a primary enemy by the Pentagon.

The US removed the designation shortly after the outbreak of the Syrian war. Iran provided logistical, technical, and military support to the Syrian government to expel US-backed terrorist groups and mercenaries such as Al Nusra, which Hillary Clinton labeled “moderate rebels.”

The goal of the US has always been to throw West Asia into destabilization, and Iran coming to the aid of a long-time ally was unacceptable. So while Clinton was cheerleading the arming of Takfiri terrorists to overthrow Bashar Al-Assad's government, it wouldn’t be that much of a public relations hassle to back MKO terrorists to target Iran.

MKO has been completely rehabilitated in the eyes of the imperialist West in the wake of the failed foreign-backed riots in Iran last year. Never mind the cult-like mentality. Never mind that they are child killers. What matters to the West is that they can help target an official enemy without getting their own hands dirty.

Being a “sponsor of terrorism” or even a “designated terrorist group” to the US can be whatever is against its imperialist interest.

The designation of a terrorist group or a state sponsor of terror can potentially change if the cards are in the US's favor. If Cuba or Iran were to submit themselves to being exploited by American politicians and corporate gangsters then they would be removed from the list by the time you finish this sentence.

For the US, yesterday’s terrorists could also be tomorrow’s freedom fighters if they can advance Washington’s imperial interests around the world. The actual designation of terrorism becomes an obfuscation, an abstract idea, but a designation strong enough for a common American to not want anything to do with a state or actor further. 

For this strategy to be rendered ineffective, everyday Americans will need to rise to the challenge of questioning their government. They will have to step outside their comfort zone, and critically engage why a group may be a terrorist today and an ally tomorrow and vice versa.

Pentagon narratives are only strong when they are taken as facts. In the age of easily shareable information, the dissemination of the truth can be a powerful force against the propaganda arm of the US war machine.

As with anything, tracing the economic motives of the imperialist regime will always lead you back to the truth.

Shabbir Rizvi is a Chicago-based political analyst with a focus on US internal security and foreign policy.

(The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Press TV)

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