Venezuela Condemns “Threats” to Syria Made by US and Allies

The Venezuelan government has accused Washington of repeating the “same pattern of lies and manipulation” used on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as other Latin American countries have also condemned calls for military intervention in Syria.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, Maduro has opposed any armed intervention in Syria's two and a half year old conflict (AVN)
Like his predecessor Hugo Chavez, Maduro has opposed any armed intervention in Syria's two and a half year old conflict (AVN)

Mérida, 29th August 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government has accused Washington of repeating the “same pattern of lies and manipulation” used on the eve of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, as other Latin American countries have also condemned calls for military intervention in Syria.

On Wednesday, Venezuela's foreign ministry issued a statement describing an international attack on Syria as a “barbarous act”.

“The events that have unfolded in recent days have elements that resemble imperial strategies used to invade other countries, subjugating people and denying them their dignity while leaving a path of death and destruction,” the statement read.

The government stated that Washington's “sole objective is to control the region’s petroleum wealth and expand western markets” in the Middle East.

“The President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro Moros, together with the country’s government and the people of Venezuela, reiterate the deep bonds of friendship that unite them with the Syrian Arab Republic and which further confirm their commitment, by any means, to help the country of Syria find peace while always respecting its sovereignty, self-determination, independence, and territorial integrity,” the statement continued.

During an event in Tachira state yesterday, Maduro further accused the US government of sponsoring an alleged attempt to assassinate him whilst “simultaneously” attacking Syria.

“It’s the same as in 2002, when they launched a coup against [former Venezuelan president Hugo] Chavez and invaded Iraq. The plan is to eliminate me as they attack Syria,” he stated.

Maduro's rejection of a military intervention is now backed by Venezuela's National Assembly (AN), which has passed a motion condemning the position of the US and its allies. Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) holds a majority in the AN.

One PSUV legislator has gone a step further, reportedly joining Syrian government troops on the ground. While visiting his mother in the war-torn Middle Eastern nation, Syrian-born legislator Abdel el-Zabayar reportedly decided to remain in his home country to fight, according to the Spanish news agency EFE. In an interview with EFE, el-Zabayar's personal assistant Doris Bautista stated the legislator made the decision “when he saw the situation in Syria”. Bautista stated he couldn't say exactly where el-Zabayar is now located.

“He supports the Syrian people. He is against the mercenaries of the US and its allies,” Baustista said.

Referring to Syria's rebel movement, el-Zabayar has previously stated that “Syria needs full support against these criminals”.

Other Latin American Countries Speak Out Against Intervention

Venezuela's opposition to an international attack on Syria is shared by other governments in Latin America including those of Ecuador, Bolivia Cuba, Argentina and Brazil.

“We will always consider [armed intervention] a violation of international law and of the UN Charter,” Brazilian foreign minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo stated. Last week, Brazil's foreign ministry issued a statement offering condolences to victims of a recent alleged chemical attack near Damascus, and endorsed calls for the “ urgent establishment of an independent investigation process”, which is currently being carried out by United Nations inspectors.

Meanwhile, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has called for the “rejection of any interference” in Syrian domestic affairs, while on Wednesday the Cuban government released a statement arguing that any “aggression against Syria would cause serious consequences for the already troubled region of the Middle East”.

“We must remember that those who today advocate military action against Syria are the same that launched bloody wars without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council, under a deliberate lie about the existence of weapons of mass destruction or the pretext of the protection of civilians,” the Cuban foreign ministry stated.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) José Miguel Insulza has also stated that he is “deeply opposed to military interventions”. According to the OAS head, “not many...interventions have been positive”.

Obama Remains Undecided

On Wednesday, US president Barack Obama stated that he is yet to make a decision on what course of action his administration will take in response to the alleged chemical attack near Damascus on 21 August. However, speaking to PBS, Obama stated there is “no doubt” the Syrian government was responsible for the attack, which reportedly claimed hundreds of civilian casualties.

“We do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on weapons like chemical weapons that could threaten us, that they are held accountable,” Obama stated.

The statement was made just days after Foreign Policy magazine reported that the US government continued providing support to Saddam Hussein even after the CIA became aware that Iraqi forces had used chemical weapons against Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War. According to Foreign Policy, the US had “firm” evidence of Iraqi use of chemical weapons as early as 1983. In a series of Iraqi offensives against Iran in 1988, Hussein “relied” on intelligence provided by Washington, even though the Reagan administration was aware that Iraqi forces would use sarin gas against Iranian troops, the article states.

A deadly nerve agent, sarin or a similar chemical weapon is widely believed to have been deployed in last week's attack in Syria. UN inspectors are reportedly gathering evidence at the site of the attack, and are expected to leave Syria on Saturday.

Even if they find evidence implicating government forces in the attack, Obama has indicated that he has “no interest in any open-ended conflict in Syria”.

However, on Tuesday Maduro stated that any military intervention in Syria could lead to a “disastrous war”.

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