From Caracas to Khartoum

By Col. (res.) Udi Evental | January 23-30, 2019

Venezuela Flag
Photo: Efecto Eco


Venezuela's beleaguered Nicolás Maduro vowed to be the sole president opposing defiantly a return to "coups" and "gringo interventions" of the 20th Century. This was Maduro's response to the most serious challenge to his rule after the leader of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, declared himself interim legitimate president.


In what appears to be rapid pre-planned attempt to engineer regime change in Venezuela, the U.S., along with many countries in South America, including Brazil, Argentina and Chile, swiftly recognized Guaidó as president.


Beyond the tragedy of embattled Venezuela – a vivid example of a prosperous natural resource-rich nation that has imploded under the weight of poor governance, corruption, repression, violence, economic meltdown, and international isolation – the dramatic events expose fault lines in the international arena.


On one hand, Maduro's pariah and violent regime has been widely condemned and his rival gains growing international recognition, including suggestions in Europe to hold snap elections. On the other, a group of international countries stand opposed, upholding the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign countries, even if their citizens are subject to violent repression.


Russia accused the U.S. that it is attempting to stage a "political coup" in Venezuela and warned that an American military intervention will lead to a "catastrophe". Russia has a long history of opposing international involvement in replacing regimes and dictators that have lost legitimacy - from the "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Union countries to the "Arab Spring" in the Middle East. Notably, Russia salvaged the murderous regime of Bashar Assad and accused the U.S. of cynically exploiting the UNSC resolution to establish a no-fly zone in Libya to remove Kaddafi.

China, supporting Maduro's regime with huge loans and considering Venezuela as its main ally in Latin America, called on the U.S. to refrain from intervening in the domestic crisis. Erdogan, who withstood a coup attempt in 2016 and has since led a repressive regime in Turkey, called Maduro to voice his support and even went public with his message: "My brother, stand tall, Turkey is by your side".


Mexico, along with Uruguay and Cuba, announced that it remains committed to the principle of "non-intervention". Simultaneously, North Korea, Iran (convinced that the U.S. plans to overthrow the Ayatollahs' regime), Hezbollah, Hamas, and even the Palestinian Authority (led by a president that has not stood for elections in more than a decade), voiced objections to the American intervention in Venezuela's internal affairs.

In sum, the dramatic events in Venezuela divide the international system into two camps. First, those that champion freedom and democracy against those that back non-intervention, led by Russia and China. The latter view support of revolutions as a tool of the West, led by the U.S., to strengthen its position in the international arena at their expense and to undermine their domestic stability.


But, in international relations all parties that adhere to noble principles look the other way when their interests are on the line. Russia, for instance, dispatched mercenaries affiliated with the Wagner Group to Venezuela to help Maduro. In the past, Moscow meddled in U.S. elections and intervened militarily in Georgia, Syria, Crimea, and Ukraine under the pretext that it was invited to do so or that it was coming to the rescue of (separatist) minorities under attack. On the other hand, President Trump is flirting with dictators such as Kim Jong Un and Duterte, maintains a strategic partnership with Erdogan, and is soft on the Assad regime.


And meanwhile in the Middle East? Russia, UAE, Egypt and Turkey came to the rescue and supported with oil, wheat, and money, another illegitimate leader that is facing violent demonstrations and is surviving thanks to his army's bayonets – Sudan's Omar al Bashir.


It is rather obvious on which end of the debate are the Sunni Arab countries that remain silent and have refrained from commenting on the events in Venezuela apart from references to the impact of the crisis on oil prices. The leaders of the Arab countries are exhausted by the regional turmoil and live themselves in "glass houses" when it comes to their legitimacy. Under these circumstances, they will probably strengthen their grip domestically to make sure that the dramatic events in Venezuela, like the yellow jackets in France before them, will not inspire their own opposition.


Israel, after several days of hesitation, fell totally in line with the U.S., but its position on the matter has been validated by the regional turmoil – prefer the "devil you know."




Authored by Col. (res.) Udi Evental



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