President Duerte of Philippine cut short his Moscow visit last week to rush back and quell the terrorist plot at home. It should come as no surprise that the so-called Islamic terrorists spreading chaos and violence in the country’s predominantly-Muslim Mindanao province are linked to the ever-morphing multinational force of proxy-terrorists branded as ISIS. With President Duerte moving rapidly into the China-Russia orbit, this was bound to happen.

Interestingly, the ISIS onslaught back home did not subvert the purpose of President Duerte’s visit. If anything, it added a sense of urgency to the growing partnership between Philippine and Russia. Duerte returned home after meeting President Putin a day before they were scheduled to meet, but his high-level delegation stayed back to finalise and sign a number of agreements, including those relating to defence and counter-terrorism cooperation. He’ll need them more than anything else for now.

Clearly, what we are witnessing in Philippine today is the launch of yet another regime-change operation, the making of another civil war ordered by the US. Duerte has refused to obey the US and instead of becoming a pawn in its unipolar schemes against China and Russia, he has chosen to embrace them as partners. He doesn’t mince his words when he speaks of the hypocrisy of the US and its European vassals. As we all know, there’s a price to pay for standing up to the empire.

Get ready for a barrage of mind-boggling spins and fake news from imperial mouthpieces to obscure what is obvious in Philippine. Trust them to do everything in their power to convince us that Duerte-the-tyrant-brat is as bad as Assad-the-brutal-dictator, if not worse. Get ready to be told horror stories about what he does to his people, horror stories that would make ISIS and their associated terrorists come across as the lesser of the two evils.

We saw it happen in Libya where Gaddafi was projected as a bigger evil than the militant groups that toppled him with the full support of the empire, groups that have turned the vast country into an ungoverned territory infested with sanctuaries and nurseries of terrorism. We can see it happening in Syria today, where Assad is supposed to be a bigger evil than terrorist groups disguised as ‘moderate rebels’. Wrapped in the yarns of imperial narrative, collaborating with terrorist groups doesn’t seem all that wrong.

Parrots caught in the cage of imperial narrative refuse to take an honest look at the relationship between these ever-new brands of ‘Islamic’ terrorism and the US. The proliferation of these terrorist groups is not an unintended consequence of imperial interventions. They are no Frankensteins either. They are spawned to serve as tools in the hands of the empire, to be played like pawns on the imperial chessboard. They are funded and trained, armed and herded across borders to places where they are needed by the empire.

This is how it has been since the spawning of Afghan mujahideen in the late 1970s and 1980s for fighting the empire’s war in Afghanistan. And we can see the pattern repeating itself over and over again. While countries targeted by the empire, and those collaborating against their neighbours at its behest have changed, the pattern of using terrorism as a tool of destabilisation and regime-change has remained the same. The empire has deliberately engineered and micro-managed terrorism to advance its hegemonic goals.

Hiding behind its War on Terror, the US, aided by its allies-cum-vassals, has managed to spread the tentacles of this nefarious network of proxy-terrorists far and wide. They appear with ever-new brand names but always work in tandem with the empire. ISIS is the newest leading brand on the block being promoted by the US war machine. The fight against ISIS, that it claims to be fighting these days, is an excuse to facilitate the terrorist group and its affiliates.

Though this is obvious, it is not stated in so many words by most leaders, except the direct targets of US-sponsored terrorism. Even China and Russia are diplomatic about it. This is bound to change in the days to come. The straight-talking President Duerte is unlikely to be so diplomatic. And as China and Russia wake up to the fact that their diplomacy is encouraging the rogue behaviour of the US rather than motivating it to come to the negotiating table, they might change their approach as well.

We live in a stark world today, one that is clearly divided between evil and good, between the unipolar empire with its never-ending overt and covert wars for perpetual hegemony and the China-Russia nexus that is determined to create a multipolar world order based on win-win cooperation and peace. The promise of Trump as a deal-maker was a mirage. There is no talking to Uncle Sam. The US would rather expand the chaos and violence it engineers as a pattern to retain its hegemony.

It is in this perspective that we need to view the recent US-Saudi moves to create a so-called counter-terrorism coalition and also our role in it. It is alarming that our government is still waiting for the TORs of the coalition to decide where we stand on it. Do we need to see the TORs to understand what the whole charade is about? In fact, wasn’t it clear from the very beginning why the Saudi royals were gathering the coalition?

Having partnered with the US in spawning and spreading the network of so-called Islamic terrorists, the Saudi royals are as interested in fighting terrorists as their imperial masters. Pakistan might have served as a collaborator in this unholy enterprise in the past, but we are embarked on a different journey today. As it is, our decision to distance ourselves from the US has made us a target. Joining any initiative under its umbrella will make us an easy target.

It was our mistake to allow ourselves to be tricked into the quicksand of Saudi coalition. Now that the US has stepped in to lord over this so-called counter-terrorism concoction, it would be downright hazardous to stay in it.