For most people, the Venezuela crisis is about the political tensions between the popularly elected socialist President Nicolas Maduro and the legislature which backs him, the Constituent Assembly. The executive and Constituent Assembly are in conflict with the pro-US National Assembly whose powers have been reduced after Venezuela’s Supreme Court discovered voting irregularities in the 2015 election. Because of this protesters who are strongly backed and funded by the United States and US based NGOs have been engaged in violent protests and even a small terrorist operation against the government.
But CIA Director Mike Pompeo feels otherwise. For him it is because of RUSSIA, CUBA, IRAN and HEZBOLLAH!
In a recent interview, Pompeo stated,
“Venezuela could very much become a risk for the United States of America. The Cubans are there; the Russians are there, the Iranians, Hezbollah are there. This is something that has a risk of getting to a very very bad place, so America needs to take this very seriously”.
Let’s break down this patent absurdity point by point.
Russia has healthy, normal relations with Venezuela. In October of 2016, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro awarded President Putin the first ever Hugo Chavez Peace Prize.
Russia and Venezuela are both energy producers, but unlike Venezuela, Russia is not in OPEC. Apart from that, Russia maintains an embassy in Caracas and normal bilateral relations.
Although the Marxist-Leninism of the Castros is not identical to the Bolivarian Socialism of Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, Cuba has tended to give strong political backing to a fellow left-wing country. Cuba no longer has a Russian military base on its soil but it does still have a very controversial US base at Guantanamo Bay.
Cuba maintains good fraternal relations with Venezuela, but Cuba is in no position to assist Venezuela even if it wanted to. Venezuela due to its oil is a far richer country than the small island of Cuba.
Iran and Venezuela maintain healthy bilateral relations. Both states are members of OPEC and both states have frequently been the target of US military threats.
Iran’s military however limits itself to the Middle East where it is fighting terrorism in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government.
There is no contingent of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Caracas and there probably never will be. The only Iranians in Venezuela are those in the embassy as well as the occasional international businessman.
The Lebanese political party Hezbollah has literally nothing to do with Venezuela. Hezbollah is not an international organisation but a Lebanese one whose armed resistance wing primarily acts to secure southern Lebanon and has more recently helped Syria in its fight against groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.
The only remote connection between Venezuela and Lebanon is the fact that Tareck El Aissami, the current Vice President of Venezuela has a Lebanese mother and a Syrian father.
His Druze father was involved in the secular socialist Ba’ath party in the Middle East but not with the primarily Shi’a group Hezbollah.
Apart from this, Venezuela’s connection to the Middle East is limited to the fact that the Venezuelan left strongly supporters Palestine.
Mike Pompeo has yet again shown his penchant for wild conspiracies.
His previous conspiracy theories include stating that Russia rigged the elections in the US where Barack Obama won, that Julian Assange would have been a Nazi in a past life, RT and Sputnik prevent Russia from going to war and this is bad, RT runs Wikileaks.