Does the recruitment of “leftist” anarchists to fight in Anglo-American proxy wars amount to Operation Gladio Mark 2?

One of the most significant and underreported scandals today is the trafficking of UK nationals and equipment to NATO-allied militias in proxy wars taking place in Syria, including the "Rojava" conflict. This is the illegal US/UK occupation of north-eastern Syria by proxy, largely managed by Kurdish forces under the banner of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces). This region comprises the bulk of Syrian oil resources and essential agricultural production, both of which are being plundered by the SDF and traded outside Syria to the United States and allies.

One UK group participating in this operation is the anarchist collective Plan C, which could therefore be described as a military intelligence cutout

Although the group is little known, individuals from the Plan C tendency are involved in organisations throughout the UK’s liberal left, including relatively well-known media organisations such as Novara Media and The Canary, which publish positive accounts of the US-supported occupation of north-eastern Syria, as well as campaigns such as Don’tPayUK and Progressive International.

The Plan C “Rojava” phenomenon can be likened to a modern reiteration of the Cold War-era military intelligence operation, Gladio, through which NATO used proxy militias to further its political agenda in Western Europe.

What was Operation Gladio?

The original Operation Gladio refers to the CIA’s infiltration of the European left during the years of the mid- to late twentieth century, and we can see an evolution of the tactics employed by agents participating in Operation Gladio in the recruitment of leftists into military intelligence operations today in “Rojava” and also Ukraine.

In order to grasp the relationship between the original Operation Gladio, and what may be its modern incarnation or successor, we must first consider what Gladio was and how it operated.

In a previous article for Unity News, in which I discussed the role played by the CIA in origins of the modern German state, I explained how:

the CIA and MI6 set up secret “stay behind” armies throughout Europe, which were supposedly formed to counter a possible Soviet invasion but ended up being used to undermine domestic socialist political organisations.

Initially, far-right Gladio cells committed acts of terrorism against politicians and ordinary people as false-flag attacks, to be blamed on communists as a means of de-legitimising the west-European left. Academic and historian Daniele Ganser notes in his book NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe:

The secret armies were equipped by the CIA and MI6 with machine guns, explosives, munitions and high-tech communications equipment hidden in arms caches in forests, meadows and underground bunkers across Western Europe. Leading officers of the secret network trained together with the US Green Berets Special Forces in the United States of America and the British SAS Special Forces in England.

Electronic Intifada editor Asa Winstanley has written about Gladio’s operations in Italy and Belgium. In a piece entitled “How the CIA and Italy's secret state manipulated the right and infiltrated the left”, he describes how:

Gladio is suspected of being behind a whole series of atrocities in the late 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, including the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing (which killed 16) and the infamous 1978 kidnap and murder of former prime minister Aldo Moro.

Perhaps most infamously, Gladio is suspected to be responsible for the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station, in which 85 people were killed and 200 injured […]

The bombing is widely believed in Italy to have been orchestrated by Gladio and covered up by the state.

The bombing was initially claimed to be the work of the ultra-left Red Brigades group. But since Bologna is a famously left-wing city, that theory was never really believed.

Over time, Gladio evolved from using far right agents to commit atrocities as false flags to be blamed on communists to infiltrating the left itself, via the Brigate Rosse or Red Brigades—a militant left-wing organisation that aimed to destabilise the Italian state and create the conditions for revolution—and manipulating its members from within. Again, Winstanley explains:

In the mid-seventies, with the far right’s links to the state being more and more exposed by independently minded Italian magistrates, Gladio shifted tactics. Instead of false flag attacks, they began to focus on infiltration and co-optation of the ultra-left armed groups that had begun springing up in response to the far right’s atrocities (and to the Communist Party’s moderate “Eurocommunist” turn).

As Winstanley’s account makes clear, despite their criminality:

the logic of Gladio meant that the Italian secret services (backed by their CIA masters) did not want to shut the Red Brigades down. Instead, maintaining the “Strategy of Tension” meant that they were far more useful active (but co-opted) as a weapon for the secret state to use against the Communist Party.

It appears that we are witnessing something like this latter strategy of infiltrating and coopting the left today.

Plan C: a textbook military intelligence “cutout”

To be clear, I am not identifying any specific members of Plan C as “spies” or intelligence agents, because I do not have the evidence to make this claim. However, it is clear that Plan C is itself acting as a conduit for the UK and US military intelligence operation in Syria. Specifically, Plan C can be regarded as a “cutout” in the sense that it is an intermediary between the US/UK intelligence operation taking place in “Rojava” and the British left.

According to its website “Plan C exists to organise in, beyond, and against capital.” It is emphatically not “the organisation of the working classes”.

In contrast to organising the working class, Plan C believes that:

for the struggle against and beyond capital to remain dynamic, there needs to be continual cross-pollination between groups and communities whose experience of it has had different emphases and who have organised themselves differently, uncovering different limitations and asking different questions.

It is therefore an organisation that lends itself to surprising alliances and counter-intuitive ways of engaging in the struggle against “capital”.

It may, for example, seem counterproductive for a group that claims to be concerned about the “climate crisis” to be supporting the nominally autonomous “Kurdish” “republic” of “Rojava”—in reality a US occupation on north-eastern Syria by proxy, which gets the majority of its income from stealing Syria’s oil reserves and selling them to a United States corporation for a tidy capitalist profit—but it nevertheless is doing so.

Plan C justifies its support for “Rojava” on grounds that it has held out against two “authoritarian” regimes: Syria—falsely characterised as largely a Russian proxy on its own territory—and Turkey. Therefore, Plan C views “Rojava” as having prevented “empire from resolving the revolution’s contradictions in its favour” in the wake of the United States withdrawal from Syria. However, it is a “resistance” that maintains US interests in the region via the occupation of oil fields and agricultural land and relies upon UK military intelligence and US air support for its survival. The SDF, which controls “Rojava”, is also alleged to have perpetrated ethnic cleansing of Arabs, Turkmen and even Kurds in “Rojava”, as well as kidnapping children.

Nor is it wholly Kurdish. As a report to the UK Parliament by Kyle Orton from the right-wing Henry Jackson Society think tank highlights, and which is corroborated elsewhere, the SDF is itself controlled by the Kurdish nationalists of the PKK but it is also comprised of a “diversity” of international recruits.

In addition to publishing positive propaganda about “Rojava”, including an interview with YPJ Commander Nisrin Abdullah, Plan C’s activists have been present on the ground, fighting as part of the US proxy militias alongside the 900 US military personnel still on the ground in the area.

Plan C openly admits to having its own “Kurdistan cluster” operating out of “Rojava”.

As a report from VoltaireNet, entitled “NATO’s Anarchist Brigades”, also explains:

Despite appearances, the YPG are not as numerous as they claim. Many Syrian Kurds consider the United States as an enemy power, and Syria as their new homeland. They refuse to adhere to the fantasies of Salih Muslim. So the Pentagon has added to the number of « their » Kurds, not only a few Arab and Assyrian mercenaries, but above all, militants from the European extreme-left.

The article also claims that:

Since this state [Rojava] has been proclaimed by people who were not born there to the detriment of those who were, it is a colonial project.

This allegation is corroborated by Kyle Orton’s report, which claims that:

despite its media and messaging campaign stressing themes like democracy and women’s rights, an authoritarian, militarized, and exclusivist regime […] Thousands of Arabs have been banned from participation in advance. The Kurdish opposition has been broken: its leaders assassinated and exiled, its offices burned down, its rank-and-file beaten up, kidnapped, and tortured (often in that order). Because of this, the Kurdish opposition is in no condition, organisationally, to compete in an election even if barriers, such as the formal legislation making Rojava a one-party system and a stifling atmosphere of intimidation, were not in place. Added to this, the PKK continues to create fake parties, and to elevate marginal individuals to run as “independents” who are totally dependent on the PKK, to confuse internal and external observers, giving the appearance of a pluralistic system while all choice is actually suppressed. This is not a stable system.

Orton’s parliamentary report also emphasises that “Rojava” is not truly autonomous but is instead a US/UK military intelligence operation. This perhaps explains how the fighters were able to make the illegal journey from the UK to Syria. Just as it suited the Italian security services to allow Red Brigades to operate, rather than closing down the criminal traffic to Syria, it is perhaps more useful to the British security state to allow leftists to keep travelling to Syria.

In this context, the pro-“Rojava” propaganda pushed by Plan C can be seen as a recruitment exercise, attempting to draw in soldiers for the empire; a project in which the UK’s “new left” media are, perhaps unwittingly, complicit. This is not just my assessment. It is also how it is characterised by the Henry Jackson Society’s report On the Forgotten Foreign Fighters: the PKK in Syria.  


It is this recruitment and training of Plan C’s left-wing anarchists to serve in NATO-supporting militias that most closely resembles the modus operandi of Operation Gladio in its later stages, when its operatives were actively infiltrating Red Brigades to manipulate them from within. North-eastern Syria appears to be a training ground for Red Brigades-style “far left” militia fighters, who are then sent to fight in NATO proxy wars elsewhere. Specifically, militia soldiers who have cut their teeth in Rojava are reportedly now being sent to fight and die in Ukraine, where leftist anarchist paramilitaries are also active on NATO’s side of the conflict.

This trafficking of militia volunteers from “Rojava” to Ukraine has been reported by Prensa Latina, the official state news agency of Cuba, as being undertaken by the CIA.

Moreover, the individual placed in charge of coordinating the relations between the US State Department and “the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS” was Ambassador James Jeffrey, an advisor to CIA Director’s External Advisory Board.

Contrary to the UK’s left media, Jeffrey has played down the socialist credentials of the SDF/YPG According to Jeffrey, the SDF are:

clean kids. I’ve gotten to know them and their leadership very, very well. They really are phenomenal, by Middle Eastern standards. They’re a highly disciplined Marxist offshoot of the PKK. They’re also not particularly interested in pursuing the PKK agenda. They’re the squishees; they don’t have any mountains.

Jeffries’ oversight is further evidence that the CIA is playing a role in coordinating the “Rojava” project and its interactions with the “international community”. It also follows that not only is Plan C participating in a military intelligence operation in “Rojava” itself, but the leftists writing about the activities of volunteers moving from Syria to Ukraine in glowing terms are, perhaps unwittingly, praising what seems likely to be a CIA operation.

In its active involvement in and promotion of the US/UK military intelligence operation that is “Rojava”, Plan C has revealed itself to be both a textbook intelligence “cutout” or intermediary, and a direct participant in a military intelligence project that resembles a modern Gladio, albeit one operating out of northeastern Syria as opposed to Western Europe.