Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

Trump: Bolton Was «Way Out Of Line» On Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

Speaking for the first time about reasons for firing his national security advisor John Bolton, US President Donald Trump said he was “way out of line” on Venezuela, even as the State Department doubled down on regime change.

“I disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes about Venezuela. I thought he was way out of line,” Trump told reporters at the Oval Office on Wednesday.

The failed attempt to effect regime change in Caracas – which Bolton has been at the forefront of since January – was only one of the issues the president brought up. Bolton’s sabotage of denuclearization talks with North Korea, earlier this year, was another.

“We were set back very badly when [Bolton] talked about the Libyan model” with North Korea, Trump added. “That’s not a question of being tough, that’s a question of being not smart to say something like that.”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs to the US, only to be violently overthrown and murdered by US-backed groups in 2011.

Bolton also “wasn’t getting along with the people in the administration that I consider very important,” Trump added, making sure to point out that he had opposed the 2003 Iraq War while Bolton was an unapologetic advocate of it.

None of that explains why Trump hired Bolton and kept him on as his principal foreign policy adviser for nearly 18 months, however. Nor does it explain why Trump agreed to appoint Bolton’s colleague Elliott Abrams as Washington’s point man on Venezuela, despite a history of his Trump-bashing public comments.

The Trump administration on Wednesday showed no signs of abandoning the approach to Caracas championed by Bolton and Abrams since January, despite it having failed miserably. Shortly after Trump’s comments, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US has invoked the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), which would give legal framework for military intervention in Venezuela.

Pompeo’s pretext is that this was requested by Juan Guaido, the self-proclaimed “interim president” of Venezuela recognized by the US and a handful of its allies, but no one else in the world. Guaido’s repeated attempts to take over power in Caracas since January have failed miserably.

Trump maintained that his policy on Venezuela is “humanitarian” and designed to “help” people there, and blamed “socialism” for the country’s economic woes. He has framed his 2020 re-election bid as stopping the “socialist” Democrats from taking over the US.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Trump said when asked if he would be willing to meet with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. This was in stark contrast to his readiness to meet with the Iranian president, another thing Bolton reportedly opposed.

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BRICS Needs a Unified Front Against US Intervention in Venezuela

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Ramona Wadi
September 7, 2019

Venezuela’s destabilisation by the US is understood best by the countries that have faced imperialist interference. Cuba’s revolutionary process, for example, has produced consistent political solidarity with Venezuela and is actively urging countries to reconsider their stance as regards the US sanctions which are creating severe humanitarian consequences.

The recent executive order signed by US President Donald Trump encompasses all entities that do business with Venezuela, thus creating an embargo that will further isolate the nation, even as the US moves to open a “Venezuela Affairs Unit” unit in its embassy in Bogota, Colombia. The unit would engage in diplomacy with the US-backed Juan Guaido, who is recognised by the Trump administration and its allies as the purported interim Venezuelan president. Its aim, according to US Special Representative to Venezuela Elliot Abrams, is in anticipation of “the day this regime falls”.

In a report titled “Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela”, it is estimated that 40,000 people have died as a result of the US-imposed sanctions from 2017 to 2018. According to the US, Venezuela poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to its national security – unfounded claims as Trump continues with overt attempts to bring down Maduro’s democratically-elected presidency.

Political pressure against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is instigated by the US, yet there is a backdrop of support from its allies in the region and, globally, from countries that spout the democracy line, even if there is nothing democratic about foreign interference.  While mostly in the background in comparison to the US, Canada has facilitated support for the Venezuelan opposition. In Europe, countries which have not explicitly backed Guaido have assumed an allegedly neutral stance which constitutes tacit agreement in terms of opposition support. The EU criticised US sanctions on Venezuela but has also threatened the country with similar punitive measures, as the European Parliament expressed its support for Guaido.

The international community is dominated by discourse that promotes foreign intervention according to the undemocratic agendas of the so-called democratic countries. Venezuela is urgently in need of a unified political strategy that stands in political solidarity against imperialist interests.

BRICS has positioned itself as one such alternative in terms of economic prospects, international security and stability. Russia and China have repeatedly affirmed their support for Maduro. South Africa and India have likewise followed suit. On the other hand, Brazil under President Jair Bolsonaro is preventing BRICS from promoting a political discourse that fully repudiates US interference in Venezuela.

Contrary to the rest of the BRICS countries, Brazil recognised Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president and it has expressed support for the international community to pay heed to “Venezuela’s cries for freedom”. Brazil has also adopting measures in line with the Lima Group, as well as prohibited Maduro and other senior Venezuelan officials from entering Brazil.

At the G20 summit in Japan, BRICS stated it supported dialogue between Maduro and the Venezuelan opposition to reach a solution. Yet the call is marred by the political divide between Brazil and the other BRICS members. This lack of consensus, including the divergence in terms of recognition of who is Venezuela’s legitimate leader, weakens its political diplomacy in the international arena. As Brazil aligns with the US, although reportedly holding back from endorsing military intervention in Venezuela, It is moving away from one of the organisation’s main aims, which is to establish itself in opposition to capitalist and imperialist exploitation.

In a recent interview, former Brazilian President Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva expressed his disappointment at BRICS not moving further politically. “BRICS was not created to be an instrument of defence, but to be an instrument of attack.” If this momentum is to be built, BRICS needs to find equilibrium in its politics, rather than allow itself to be swayed into a seemingly neutral position due to the US allegiances of Brazil under Bolsonaro. It is not enough to preach dialogue like the rest of the international community have done while weakening Venezuela’s autonomy. BRICS must evaluate its relevance, especially when it comes to one of its members demonstrating political opportunism that is contrary to the group’s aims.

Adding Context to ‘News’ about Venezuela

Adding Context to ‘News’ about VenezuelaAugust 11, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

This past week’s meeting of the U.S.-and-Canada-created anti-Venezuela Lima Group of nations failed to achieve the U.S. regime’s intention of organizing a coalition of its members to participate in a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow Venezuela’s Government and install Trump’s choice, the self-styled ‘interim President’ of Venezuela, Juan Guaido, to rule there. Although 100 nations had been invited, only 60 attended, and the U.S. regime wasn’t able to obtain even one ally for an invasion. John Bolton (U.S. National Security Advisor) and Wilbur Ross (U.S. Secretary of ‘Commerce’ — mainly U.S. oil companies) represented U.S. President Trump at the meeting, which started on August 5th. The meeting ended with no official announcement. It was a humiliating defeat for the U.S. regime.

Below is a report about this meeting, by Agence France-Presse, a typical U.S.-allied ‘news’-medium. The italicized additions in brackets in and near the article’s end are essential historical context; it’s taken from Wikipedia’s article International sanctions during the Venezuelan crisis”, and thus also isn’t from me. This way, the reader will be able to see what the ‘news’-report here leaves out, which is essential background in order for readers to know the reality that stands behind this particular ‘news’ report. The minor typos in the original report are also left unchanged; the entire article is unchanged, except that I boldface the passages toward the end, which passages are subsequently contextualized immediately below them. Afterward, I shall add my own comments, in order to provide a fuller context:

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http://archive.is/pNGYl

https://www.france24.com/en/

US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens

Date created: Tuesday 6 August 2019,  06/08/2019 – 20:07

AFP, Lima (AFP): Washington warned third parties on Tuesday to avoid doing business with the Venezuelan regime of Nicolas Maduro, as delegates from some 60 countries met in Lima to discuss ways of ending the crisis in South American nation.

The warning came one day after President Donald Trump ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the United States and barred transactions with its authorities.

“We are sending a signal to third parties that want to do business with the Maduro regime: proceed with extreme caution,” said Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, speaking in Lima.

“There is no need to risk your business interests with the United States for the purposes of profiting from a corrupt and dying regime.”

The Trump administration is determined to force Maduro from power and support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s plans to form a transitional government and set up new elections.

The sanctions drew an angry response from Caracas, which denounced the US move as “another serious aggression by the Trump administration through arbitrary economic terrorism against the Venezuelan people.”

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido, speaker of the Natinal Assembly, proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

Tuesday’s meeting was called by the Lima Group, which includes a dozen Latin American countries and Canada, most of which support Guaido.

The Lima meeting comes as representatives of Maduro and Guaido are involved in “continuous” negotiations mediated by Norway.

The first round of talks were in Oslo in May, and three further rounds have taken place in Barbados.

Caracas claims the US sanctions show that Washington and its allies are “committed to the failure of the political dialogue” because “they fear the results and benefits.”

Bolton, who is in the US delegation alongside Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said Maduro was “not serious” about talks.

He said Trump’s move “authorizes the US government to identify, target and impose sanctions on any persons who continue to provide support” Maduro’s “illegitimate regime.”

He said it would “deny Maduro access to the global financial system and to further isolate him internationally.”

Venezuela’s opposition considers Maduro a usurper over his re-election last year in a poll widely viewed as rigged.

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held — but Maduro, with support from the country’s powerful military, refuses to go.

Maduro says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted US-orchestrated “coup.”

But on Tuesday the White House was emphatic: the “dictatorship must end for Venezuela to have a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”

The United States would “use every appropriate tool to end Maduro’s hold on Venezuela,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

Oil-rich but cash-poor Venezuela has been in a deep recession for five years.

[“President Barack Obama signed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014, a U.S. Act imposing sanctions on Venezuelan individuals held responsible by the United States for human rights violations during the 2014 Venezuelan protests, in December of that year.[13][14] It “requires the President to impose sanctions” on those “responsible for significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses associated with February 2014 protests or, more broadly, against anyone who has directed or ordered the arrest or prosecution of a person primarily because of the person’s legitimate exercise of freedom of expression or assembly”.[8]”]

Food and medicine shortages are routine, and public services are progressively failing.

[“As the humanitarian crisis deepened and expanded, the Trump administration levied more serious economic sanctions against Venezuela on 28 January [2019], and “Maduro accused the US of plunging Venezuelan citizens further into economic crisis.”[3] Rafael Uzcátegui, director of PROVEA, added that “sanctions against PDVSA are likely to yield stronger and more direct economic consequences, and that “[w]e should remember that 70 to 80 percent of Venezuela’s food is imported, and there’s barely any medicine production in the country.”[3]”]

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MY COMMENTS: The U.S. regime’s sanctions against Venezuelans were aimed at producing such distress amongst the population so as to cause them not to vote for Maduro. It didn’t work. The sanctions had the intended effect of distressing Venezuelans, but this deprivation drove so many of the most anti-Maduro Venezuelans to leave the country so that the sanctions failed to force the expected “regime change.” It drove too many of his enemies out. The U.S. regime is therefore trying even-stronger measures to grab the country. Trump is dictating to Venezuela that “the dictatorship must end.” He has even chosen the person, Guaido, who is to replace the current nationally elected President, whom the U.S. regime has long been trying to oust. Guaido has never even been a candidate in any national Venezuelan election, but he was trained in the U.S., and has always cooperated with the U.S. Government’s repeated efforts to take control over Venezuela. Venezuela has never invaded nor even threatened the United States. This coup-attempt is purely an effort for imperialistic conquest of Venezuela, but it is cloaked in ‘democratic’ and ‘humanitarian’ lies, for fools, like America’s invasions and coups typically are. Only idiots can’t see what the U.S. pattern is here, especially after the lies that had suckered Americans in 2003 to support “regime-change in Iraq.” Trump is continuing Barack Obama’s policy, which continued that of George W. Bush. Whatever changes in personnel occur within the U.S. regime, the regime itself remains basically the same, though its theatrics change, and that’s enough change to satisfy most Americans that we live in a democracy. Virtually all of the U.S. Congress supports these efforts to conquer Venezuela, and this fascism includes all of the Democratic Party’s Presidential candidates. Therefore, none of the candidates are being challenged about their votes supporting this (or any other) attempted conquest by the U.S. regime. The neoconservative policy is bipartisan in America, though the personnel do change, from the representatives of one group of billionaires, to the representatives of another group of billionaires. And the vast majority of Americans think that it’s good, or at least okay — even after all of the lies have been exposed, they still approve. Of course, most Italians, Japanese, and Germans, thought favorably about their Government’s imperialistic conquests, during WW II; but Americans became opposed to that when we were hit by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor and Germany declared war against us. This time around, we are the Japanese, and the Germans, and the Italians. Things weren’t supposed to turn out this way, but it has happened. The U.S. is today the world’s leading fascist nation. And very few Americans recognize that it’s the way that things did turn out. Very few Americans know that we live in a fascist nation — today’s leading fascist nation.

AFTER THAT NEWS-REPORT:

The next day, August 7th, Venezuela’s Telesur headlined “EU Opposes Recent US Total Blockade Against Venezuela” and reported that Trump had failed to get the EU — his biggest hope for destroying Venezuela short of militarily invading it — to accept even that proposal. The EU said “We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.” They further said “A negotiated outcome remains the only sustainable way to overcome this multidimensional crisis.” The EU couldn’t muster enough fascists to go along with anything that the U.S. regime proposed. At this point, Trump isn’t far from the moment when he will need either to abandon his effort to grab Venezuela in this round, or else spring a blitz invasion without allies. Even if he calls off the effort, that would only be temporary. Perhaps if and when he is re-elected, he will feel freer just to send in thousands of troops, tanks, and missiles, to get the job done. However, if Russia stands firm, then such an invasion could spark WW III. He would have to decide whether grabbing the world’s largest oil reserves is worth that risk. Meanwhile, he will almost certainly continue to try to make life as difficult as possible for the Venezuelan people, all the while blaming Maduro for their misery. This has been the basic American plan, since well before Trump occupied the White House. At this stage, an American President is just a figurehead for one or another faction of America’s 607 billionaires, and it seems that whereas some of them demand conquest of Venezuela, none of the others opposes such a conquest. The only issue, therefore, for the American regime, is how and when to do that.

On August 8th, Venezuela, Iran, China, and Russia, held “war games” at Kaliningrad, Russia, on the Baltic coast, which military exercises had been organized by Russia, perhaps in order to indicate to Washington that a U.S. invasion against any of these four would be militarily responded to by all of the four. This symbolic act warns the fascist, and fascist-accepting, regimes: Your imperialist alliance has 60 nations, but is fractious; ours, on the other hand — all resolute supporters of national sovereignty, and therefore opponents of imperialism — has 4 nations, but we are united. Consequently, though “US warns off Venezuela’s supporters as Lima meeting opens,” Venezuela’s three allies here answered that verbal threat immediately after the Lima Group meeting, by a joint action, which symbolized that they are ignoring it.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

OMISSION OF ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY THE VENEZUELAN “OPPOSITION” DISCREDITS UN HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

Global Research, August 05, 2019

Former lawyer for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Alfred de Zayas stated:

“As a former staffer of the Office of the High Commissioner For Human Rights, I know how things work.  There are people with prejudices.   They have an axe to grind and they grind it and they omit information that just doesn’t fit the matrix that they want to put forward…Now this, of course, is not just a problem of methodology.  This is also a problem of ethics.  The professional ethics of a staff member must include a true reproduction of the information received from all sources…the information given to the High Commissioner, I have seen much of that information, which also dates back to 2017, and none of it was ever reflected by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, and is also not reflected by this new report…I think it is necessary for the credibility of the office to change the team that has been doing these reports in the past because they have proven not to be objective.  They have proven not to follow what I would consider the minimum requirements of any serious research.”

“I think that not giving appropriate weight to the violence of the guarimbas, of the opposition, not going into the dislocation, the disturbance of repeated attempts at overthrowing the government, the coup d’etat, the unilateral declaration of the presidency of Guaido, followed by the so-called humanitarian aid that the United States was going to force from Colombia into Venezuela, followed by the call to the army to overthrow Maduro on the 30th of April last, etc., the attempts on the life of Maduro himself—All of these things have an impact on the functioning of any government….But back in 2017, and I’ve seen the videos, the opposition used Molotov cocktails.  The opposition used real bullets.  The opposition burned alive seven human beings.”

In an appallingly distorted and biased report by United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the shameful failure to report or even mention the atrocities committed by the Venezuelan so-called “peaceful opposition” is a sin of omission so egregious as to discredit the entire report, and disqualify the professionalism of those who compiled it.  It is also shocking that Michelle Bachelet affixed her own imprimatur to this report:  Madame Bachelet should, at the very least, have mentioned  particularly infamous atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition, atrocities which actually exceeded in savagery some of the horrors perpetrated by the fascist dictatorship of Chile’s Pinochet, barbarism of which Chile’s Michelle Bachelet herself must be fully aware.

This report on Venezuela dates back as far as 2014, and clearly includes 2017, during which racist atrocities perpetrated by the opposition against supporters of the government are so heinous that their glaring omission from this current report constitutes a deliberate attempt to suppress and deny the truth, transforming the report into a blatant propaganda device, devoid of reliability.

On May 22, 2017 the torture-murder of an Afro-Venezuelan was committed by members of the opposition demonstrating in the wealthy community of Altamira:  a young Afro-Venezuelan, Orlando Jose Figuera was beaten to the ground by a mob of over 40 members of the opposition, who knifed him six times in the stomach, doused his body with gasoline and burned him alive.  Figuera, a government supporter, died ten days later.  The opposition perpetrators of this heinous atrocity were never apprehended.

“What does the Organization of American States General Secretary Luis Almagro say?  What does the Colombian President say?  What does Donald Trump say?”

These Venezuelan racist members of the opposition  subsequently burnt alive at least five other government supporters, including Danny Subero, Pedro Josue Carillo, several other youths: at least eighteen government supporters were murdered in this “peaceful” opposition demonstration, alone.  Absolutely no mention of this is contained in Michelle Bachelet’s current report, which virtually demonizes the Venezuelan government.

During this orgy of sadism perpetrated by the so-called “peaceful” Venezuelan opposition, fifty four public – operated TransBolivar buses in Ciudad Guyana were  set on fire with Molotov cocktails hurled by members of the opposition. This was confirmed by Bolivar state Governor Francisco Rangel Gomez. Of course, the well-to-do members of Venezuelan society do not need to use public buses.  They frequently ride in chauffeured limosines.  The destruction of public buses harms the poorer sectors of Venezuela, those very members of society which Presidents Chavez and Maduro were attempting to help, and raise the standard of living.

These opposition protests have caused the country $140,000,000 in damages in 2017 alone.

These crass omissions of numerous crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Venezuelan opposition scandalously discredit this report, and reveal it to be sycophantic propaganda, both intellectually and morally bankrupt, currying favor with Western financial powers, and unworthy of Madame Bachelet, herself, who cannot, or should not have forgotten the cases in Chile of the “Quemados.”  Rodrogo Rojas and Carmen Gloria Quintana,  were similarly doused with gasoline and set on fire by Pinochet’s gestapo:  Rojas died of his burns, and Carman Gloria underwent more than 30 plastic surgery operations to attempt repair her face and body, still disfigured with scarring.  There is one difference:  Pinochet’s killers omitted the six knife wounds to the stomach that Figueroa suffered.  Members of the Venezuelan opposition seem to have exceeded in savagery even Pinochet’s Nazis.

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Carla Stea is Global Research’s correspondent at United Nations Headquarters, New York, N.Y.

Maduro Sniffs Out New Coup, Attempt to Murder Him and His Wife Planned By Guaido and US!

June 27, 2019

Venezuela thwarts another coup attempt: official

The Venezuelan authorities have thwarted another attempt to stage a coup, Minister of Communications and Information Jorge Rodriguez said on Wednesday.

“We have video recordings that serve as evidence that weapons and money were transferred [for the aim of staging a coup],” Rodriguez told a press conference broadcast by the Telesur TV channel.

Rodriguez said that conspirators planned to seize ammunition depots and a military airport in Caracas, then release former Defense Minister Raul Baduel from prison. In 2009, Baduel was sentenced to a lengthy term in prison for corruption. Conspirators planned to proclaim Baduel as Venezuela’s president.

On January 23 Venezuelan National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaido proclaimed himself as the country’s acting president. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described it as a coup attempt and announced severing diplomatic relations with the United States. On January 28 the US imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned PDVSA oil company.

Guaido was recognized as interim president by the Lima Group countries (except for Mexico), as well as by Albania, Georgia, the United States, and the Organization of American States.

Several EU countries came forward with support for the Venezuelan parliament and expressed hope for new elections to resolve the crisis. Maduro was supported by Russia, Belarus, Bolivia, Iran, China, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Syria and Turkey.

 

Source: TASS

Understanding America’s “regime change” strategy in Russia

June 19, 2019

Understanding America’s “regime change” strategy in Russia

by Ollie Richardson for The Saker Blog

In what is a very timely admission taking into account the topic of my last article – 21st century international relations and decision-making, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (Служба внешней разведки Российской Федерации), Sergey Naryshkin, pointed to a low risk method of “hybrid” warfare and named a specific example where it is being implemented. RT reported the following on June 18th (emphasis my own):

“Western secret services are perfecting clandestine tools which are designed to weaken countries like viruses weaken bodies, the Russian foreign intelligence chief has said. This kind of warfare is currently used in Venezuela.

The criticism came from Sergey Naryshkin, who heads Russia’s foreign intelligence agency SVR. He said spies are constantly improving the tool used to dispose of governments that the West does not like.

‘We are talking about creating a universal algorithm for conducting clandestine influence operations in a continuous manner and on a global scale,’ he said. According to the official, this clandestine work ‘never stops and targets not only enemies, but also friends and neutral powers in the times of peace, crisis and war.’

‘It can be compared to the action of a virus; it can spend decades destroying a human organism without symptoms, and once diagnosed, often it’s too late to treat it.’

The methods used to influence and destabilize other nations include creating network-oriented structures that can operate on a premise of public activism, art, science, religion or extremism, the Russian official said. After collecting data on the fault lines in a targeted society, those structures are used to attack those weak points in a synchronized assault, overwhelming the nation’s capability to respond to crises.

Simultaneously the perpetrators push a narrative through local and global media and social networks that claims that the only way to resolve problems is to replace the government of the victim nation with another one, possibly with a direct foreign support.

‘We can observe this scenario being implemented in Venezuela,’ Naryshkin said.

The US is currently trying to replace Venezuela’s elected President Nicolas Maduro with another person, Juan Guaido, whom Washington recognized as the legitimate head of the South American nation.

Among others, the US backs his bid with economic sanctions against Venezuela and a massive diplomatic and media campaign in support of the pretender. Guaido’s attempts to actually seize power in Caracas have been futile, so far.

The Russian intelligence chief was speaking at an international security forum in Ufa, Russia, which is hosted by the Russian National Security Council. The event is meant for officials directly involved in policy making on security issues. Almost 120 nations are participating in this year’s gathering.”

I will start by saying that Naryshkin could reveal a lot more if he wanted to, but for obvious reasons is limited to presenting an abstract thesis – which RT “coincidently” relayed – as a sort of signal to Western intelligence agencies that Russia’s room to manoeuvre in the information space isn’t limited to just publishing “news”.

On the surface it might seem like he is just describing a banal coup d’état, where one state interferes in the internal affairs of another state for the purpose of overthrowing the government and bringing to power a political circle that is friendlier. If one prefers simplistic and digestible takeaways, then one can stop reading here – nothing new under the sun!

However, what the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service is alluding to is a far more complex and dense matter. As history has shown, the traditional coup d’état, akin to what has been seen in the MENA and South America for decades now, is not the same as the coup d’état that was rolled out in, for example, Ukraine in 2014. Why?

The precursor to the “colour revolution”

The main reason is that the West has been working on occupying MENA’s lands and raw materials for decades. If the countries of MENA can be said to be tribalistic in terms of structure and aims (more about daily survival than paying bills at the end of the month), then post-WW2 Europe is at first glance much more “developed” and “civilised”. I put these words in quotation marks because they are the generic phrases that organisations like the UN use when describing how MENA should aspire to become “more democratic” and “progressive” in order to “combat poverty” and become “prosperous”. In other words, MENA in general is not as technologically advanced as modern nation states with liberal “democracies”. This is not an insult to MENA; it is simply an observable fact based on the consequences of colonisation. Thus, the scheme for conquering MENA territory is more straightforward than it would be for conquering, for example, Eastern Europe. There is a leader, there is a small circle of wealthy elites, there is an army (armed loyalists), and there are farmers/manual labour workers. Anglo-Saxon colonisers managed to conquer the lands long before the victim nation is able to climb the ladder of scientific research and thus obtain more and more effective ways of defending themselves.

In the example of the Native Indians, the British already had basic guns, thus the former’s bows and arrows were inferior. In the case of Africa, notorious colonisers (which includes the British) arrived with the same guns and were faced with only spears and other relatively primitive weapons. Hence why almost the entire African continent was subjugated so easily. The difference between just general colonisation and a coup d’état can be seen most visibly after the CIA is formed: overthrowing a “dictator” becomes as simple as literally buying off the army (like how the UK pioneered the use of pirates), which allows the capitalist West to take care of business and use its media resources to report another “peaceful” and “successful” “democratisation” project. As soon as a leader manages to come to power and aims to challenge this subjugation (Gaddafi being the most recent MENA example, but there is also Patrice Lumumba and Thomas Sankara), they experience the same problem – they are simply overpowered by the more technologically advanced coloniser.

When it comes to coup d’états in the post-Soviet space, the game is different. For over 60 years the USSR had succeeded to repel the influence of the “free” (capitalist) Anglo-Saxons – thanks to a focus on scientific research and thus nuclear technologies – and create a tightly knit Union based on common history and culture. In the West the governments told their citizens that “on that side of the curtain they are ‘totalitarian’”, whilst in reality America & Co struggled to influence Soviet society and didn’t want their own citizens to see that in the Soviet system of governance everybody had something, as opposed to some people having everything (capitalism). In other words, the USSR was able to defend itself against the traditional coup d’état method.

Due to the fact that the USSR was a developed territory and had much more complex political structures than those of the average African country, it wasn’t as simple as just sending Thomas Lawrence or Sidney Reilly and duping local kingpins into signing agreements that essentially renounce raw material ownership rights. And it is also important to bear in mind that the Soviet intelligence agencies were doing battle with the CIA long before 1991. The changing of times simply obliged the West to update the coup d’état playbook before the target country progressed along the line of scientific development and establishes a defence mechanism that is technologically 20 years ahead of the US’ subversive tools.

Not being physically able to intimidate the USSR enough into submitting to its will since the latter had nuclear weapons, Uncle Sam realised that it was much more wiser and safer to blow it up from the inside. In this article I don’t want to digress too much from the central topic, thus I will not present a mass of details of how America managed to penetrate the USSR and inject it’s liberal ideas throughout society, but a good brief example I can give is the shipping of American clothes/fashion to Soviet ports, such as Odessa. Today this might be called “soft power”, but at the time in question such things served to convince people that individualism could give a more fruitful life than collectivism.

The 2014 coup d’état in Ukraine utilised an upgraded blueprint that was based on the one used to dismantle the Soviet Union (and spark the 1993 constitutional crisis). When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Ukraine found itself in the position of being the wealthiest inheritor of the Soviet legacy: its infrastructure, medicine, education, military, etc was the best in the region. Things started to go pear-shaped around 2004, when America’s interference started to reach new heights at the time of the “multi-vectoral” Kuchma, but the Ukraine of 2014 under Yanukovych was relatively-speaking above the water and swimming comfortably. In an attempt to oust Putin before Russia comes even closer to China, strengthens, and forms the backbone of the emerging Eurasian bloc, America planned to disrupt the equilibrium in Ukraine and violently tear it away from the Russian nation. But the problem for America was “how to make this process look organic? After all, to simply invade Ukraine with the US Army would result in the liquidation of the United States of America itself.”

I will not use precious article space recounting what happened in 2013/2014 in Ukraine, since I have created an archive dedicated to it, but I think the video below – John Tefft in 2013 preparing the terrain in Donetsk for what was about to happen – encapsulates the essence of it very well: US NGOs brainwashed society into flirting with liberalism and its noxious “democracy”, similar to that virus Sergey Naryshkin spoke about; local Galician militant formations are formed (main example: “Right Sector”) and capture administration buildings in Western Ukraine, before eventually being transported to Kiev for the February “revolution”.

“Colour revolution 2.0”

What I really want to focus on is the coup d’état model that is being deployed by America & Co in 2019. So far we can say that there are 3 versions of the coup d’état technology (I am being deliberately simplistic, and I use provisional names and descriptions, since I am still researching this topic):

  1. Traditional coup d’état – a simple smash and grab, effective against the so-called “third world” (examples: Laos, Guatemala, Zaire);
  2. “Colour revolution” – temporarily hijacking “civil society”, effective against more technologically sophisticated states but not superpowers (examples: Egypt, Syria, “independent” Ukraine);
  3. Algorithmic probing (can be thought of as “colour revolution 2.0”) – seizing control over the nation from the ground-up, effective against allies of nuclear superpowers post-2015, when the Minsk Agreements were signed and Russian jets touched down at Hmeymim airbase in Syria (examples: Venezuela, Hong Kong, Russia, Serbia).

Before starting to elaborate on version No. 3, which concerns the post-Syrian-war (I stress, Russia ended the war in 2015 – everything that happened afterwards is just behind the curtain negotiations concerning the next 50+ years of global order) world, it is necessary to present some of the reasons why version No. 2 no longer works:

  • Social media hashtag campaigns like those seen during the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood “revolution” no longer have the same effect due to the exponentially increasing mobilisation of anti-coup (“pro-Russia”/“pro-Assad”/“pro-Maduro”/“pro-Nasrallah”) social media users;
  • It became too difficult to keep the aesthetics of the operation consistently clean – the “White Helmets” may do something that discredits their alleged authenticity, the speaker of the Rada may state that “Hitler was a great leader”, a senior Qatari figure may admit live on TV that Qatar funded militant groups in order to remove Assad, Bana might botch a tweet, a video may emerge showing a “FSA” leader reading a script in front of an American producer, etc;
  • The popularity of mainstream media is becoming less and less (not to mention the effect of Trump’s “fake news” PR campaign), and the popularity of both non-Western state media (RT, Sputnik, Press TV, Telesur, etc) and independent (or apparently independent) media is exponentially growing;
  • Alternative social media websites/apps have since become popular amongst English speakers (VKontakte, Telegram, Instagram, Gab, Snapchat, etc);
  • Eurasia was able to study the past behaviour of the both West’s traditional resources and social media users, allowing to refine its existing resources and to even create new, specialised ones;
  • The existence of independent and anti-coup journalists who are prepared to travel between different theatres (for example, Syria and Venezuela) and expose the pattern of the West’s “regime change” methods.
  • The weakening of the effect of smearing expressions like “anti-Semitism” due to the accumulation effect of reports about Israeli crimes in Gaza and the West Bank;
  • The general strengthening of Eurasia and the decline of the liberal West (and the opportunities it has to violate international law as a result), thus the citizens of the former don’t have a reason to believe that the latter is the paradise it pretends it is;
  • etc.

In other words, the geopolitical reality we have today is not at all the same as the one that we saw before Russia’s involvement in Syria – the highest stakes chessboard in the grand game. Lessons were learnt from the past and enough time has passed for changes to be calculated and implemented. Today, superpowers are obliged to invest exponentially more resources in technologies (hence why Russia wants to invest heavily in the AI sector), since understanding the enemy’s technologies is the difference between them successfully or unsuccessfully penetrating society. And it’s not a coincidence that Naryshkin starts to use terms like “virus”. But what does he really mean? What are the design differences between a regular “colour revolution” and what we are seeing today in, for example, Venezuela?

Firstly, a “colour revolution” is designed to hijack “civil society” over a period of several months (less than 6 months), obtain the support of the elites, and aims to put the target leader in front of two bad choices – a trap: to quell protests means to be depicted by the West’s NGO’s as a “dictator”, and thus the West doesn’t risk receiving a information blow to its rear (if Western society doesn’t agree with something the government is doing, an adversary can exploit it and disrupt the socio-economic situation of a western country or of many western countries); to not quell the protests means to simply hand over power. This explains what happened to Viktor Yanukovych – he did not give the order to Berkut to disperse Maidan for fear of being permanently stained in the Western media, so Joe Biden and his band of merry putschists, after a bit of sniper theatrics to keep the protests alive, took the Rada. Lose-lose. In this scenario Russia could do nothing since a) Ukrainians and their elites are ultimately to blame for flirting with the West, and b) Yanukovych chose the passive option, and thus the only thing Moscow could do was to quickly forecast the consequences and move several step ahead of the US (hence the supercomputers that know about the Yugoslavia war). The result? The Minsk Agreements and the driving of the US’ “anti-Russia” project into a dead end.

Secondly, a “colour revolution” hijacks momentary social discontent in relation to a particular issue, inflates it, and then unleashes it in a very focused manner. The discontent needs to be fed financially and thus can be left to extinguish if plans change. It should be noted here that the target society must already show signs of fragmentation: the work to gradually tear Ukraine away from the bosom of Russia (since the collapse of the USSR) has been ongoing for decades, and over time Kiev succumbed to the West’s Banderist poison, thus the 2014 coup simply brought to the surface what had been boiling below since the times of the NKVD’s battle with OUN-UPA. Syria is very similar –Wahhabism had been nibbling away at the Levant for decades. Of course, the ties between Hafez/Bashar al-Assad and the Russia/USSR have existed for over 30 years, but it cannot be said that the two countries have had a relationship based more on pragmatism.

Thirdly, a “colour revolution” involves the creation of an informational hologram that proverbially floats above the target territory, creating a parallel timeline (example: the green/black/white French mandate flag as the actual Syrian flag, and the Higher Negotiations Committee as the actual UN recognised government of Syria – both of which are of course frauds but allow NATO members to bomb Syria without any indignation from the Western general public), but starts to fade as soon as the balance of forces in the war on the ground tips in the target’s favour (not even the US media machine can sell the narrative that East Aleppo still hasn’t been recaptured by Assad).

Fourthly, a “colour revolution” does not aim to reprogram all the layers of non-elite society in all regions of the country – it only aims to introduce liberal ideas and maintain the support of both those who are already brainwashed and those who succumb to the inculcation. Those who were anti-liberal before will remain anti-liberal post-coup, and thus pose a threat to the puppet regime. Ukraine here is an excellent example of this, where the profoundness of the historical Novorossiya vs Galicia line of divide could be overcome with a few cookies and $5 billion in NGO money.

Version No. 3 of the coup d’état, which in this article I refer to as “algorithmic probing”, is thus designed to: take place over a longer period of time; be fed at the expense of the target government and link together various sources of social discontent; be able to work in conditions where there is no existing ground-based warfare and the likelihood of there being any in the future is low; reprogram the national consciousness and hook all layers of society as geographically far and as wide as possible; make steps towards success even if the elites remain loyal to the target leader.

In situations where the target’s security apparatus is the same, if not better, than the belligerent’s; where society’s average level of trust in the leader is the same, if not higher than the belligerent’s; and where the target’s defence capabilities match, if not overpower, the belligerent’s offensive capabilities; it becomes far too risky for the belligerent to try the “colour revolution” scheme, since failure can compromise any future coup d’état attempts – the coup leader can be detained and may spill the beans concerning who gave him orders and what they were, as well as any valuable intelligence information. The failed coup in Turkey in 2016 was the warning signal to Washington that the habitual “colour revolution” technology will not work in the “multipolar” Eurasian space (hint: Turkey received coup-thwarting intel from allies).

In Venezuela the US is revising its coup d’état technology in real time. There are signs of the “colour revolution” technology: a puppet opposition leader who calls for protests in the street; the expression “the Maduro regime”; imposition of sanctions to give the illusion that the Venezuelan government is starving its own people; even statements like “all options are on the table”, which is PR-friendly way of saying there are no options. There are also some faint signs of “algorithmic probing”: the transferal of assets in the US belonging to the Venezuelan state to the hands of Juan Guaido; the dragging out of the coup d’état (it’s been going on for much longer than 6 months); there is no civil war in the country and it’s unlikely there will be any in the near future, despite the presence of US NGOs in the country.

However, the initial “colour revolution” attempt failed because Russia and China – nuclear superpowers – helped Caracas to weather the storm and keep society together. Later the Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA moved its assets to Moscow, Russia sent polite green men to calm down the US, and Moscow and China both sent humanitarian aid (as well as “humanitarian aid”) for the sanctioned people of the country, and Juan Guaido was exposed so much so that even his rich boyfriend Richard Branson was obliged to throw him under the bus:

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But in this example, like vis-à-vis the Syrian war, Russia doesn’t have to do much informational work in order to justify its involvement, simply because ties between Caracas and Moscow already existed before the Bolton-Pompeo tandem came to power, and Russia would be acting within international law anyway. I.e., the door was slammed shut in the face of the CIA, and in order to re-open it America’s only option is to either remove Russia’s nuclear weapons (and in order to do this the S-400 must be removed from the equation) or to overhaul Venezuelan society at the grass roots level.

The “colour revolution” version of the coup d’état even more so does not work in Putin’s Russia. He has succeeded to build a system that leaves no holes for CIA mice (e.g. successors of Gorbachev, Yeltsin, or other notorious liberal saboteurs) to scurry though. Some might call it “authoritarian”; others might call it coup d’état-resistant.

The CIA-orchestrated Boris Nemtsov assassination served as a test balloon, to learn if the Ukrainian scheme can be repeated (death[s] from gunfire -> protests and clashes with law enforcement -> target president flees). The aim was to gather enough people in Moscow for a “march in memory of Nemtsov” and to replicate what happened on Independent Square in Kiev, but this time outside of the Kremlin (how convenient for propagandist photographers – he was killed on the bridge next to the Kremlin!).

Not enough people came, and the security agencies succeeded to block the path to the Kremlin. Russian senator Evgeny Federov did a fantastic job of explaining this in more detail:

The next experiment was the Navalny card in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election. I recommended to delve into the material found here for more details about this. In brief, the CIA tried to use the image of children being arrested by OMON during unsanctioned protests in order to shake Russian society. The result? Putin outlawed it, and of course, Western propagandists were howling “repression”. Putin won the election anyway, in the presence of international observers too.

Fast forward to the most recent (at the time of writing) provocation – the case of Ivan Golunov, who works for the liberal propagandist agency “Meduza” – and we see familiar things: a fifth-columnist is used as a battering ram designed to shake society and remove the evil “dictator”. An unsanctioned “Golunov is a hero” march took place on June 12th, and analysis of the footage shows that it has nothing to do with journalism and everything about putting Putin in a bad light. The crowd even chants “Russia without Putin”, and one hired clown in particular gave the message a visual aspect.

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Evgeny Federov noted that the Golunov club refused the government’s offer to hold a sanctioned rally on June 16th, since the US needs images of “innocent journalists and activists” being detained by “evil” OMON. Federov’s statement in full:

“There is no doubt that it is an attempt to interfere. Both the US State Department and Brussels made official statements on this issue. They have included their forces, and we know them well, many of the participants in the illegal demonstration are well known to us. From the photos in the police vans, you may remember that these forces repeatedly came out before. Personally, I saw them on Pushkin Square, when Navalny took them there.

These are obvious foreign forces, the fifth column on the territory of Russia, they became active on June 12th. For them, they just need a reason, but the reason has already disappeared, Golunov was released, but they don’t care. The team arrived, the money was received, and they need to put it to use. The actions of the protesters are connected to the general system of shaking the situation that is practiced in the West, primarily in the US. It is enough to see how events were prepared in Ukraine, in Georgia, in Moldova, how they were prepared in hundreds of other countries through foreign intervention using the orange technology method.

Everything happens in the same way everywhere. Firstly, a sacred victim is selected, and then proven groups who don’t care about the cause are used. The main thing for them is that the performance is against Russia and in support of foreign handlers. Completely the same scheme works in Russia concerning garbage collection and in Ekaterinburg. No matter what the reason, the most important thing is to continue to shake the situation. And I stress that the Americans managed to do this many times. At the second echelon, they usually involve separatists, and this is also being prepared in Russia.”

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Screenshots:Screenshot 2019-06-19 at 00.00.00.pngThus, instead of holding a sanctioned march on June 16th, a “support Golunov” event took place. The turnout for this rally was pathetic. As Federov says, Putin neutralised the Golunov bomb by releasing the “journalist” and sacrificing some police generals. Of course, the social media attacks followed the same script as with Navalny’s unsanctioned protests and arrests (there is no indignation vis-à-vis Kirill Vyshinsky’s detention, naturally):

The fifth column media in Russia in unison started to promote the “I/We are Golunov” NGO campaign. UK newspapers presented the situation as Putin “backing down” and claimed that the “independent press is harassed, which in reality means that the FSB doesn’t let the fifth column breathe. There were also attempts (example) to stretch the Golunov template over other “unlawful arrests”. And the cherry on the cake is that it turns out that the clown Navalny was present at the unsanctioned Golunov march:

There are of course other examples of US-instigated agitation in Russian society – ranging from churches in Ekaterinburg to pension reform – but they all show the same traits of a “colour revolution” and encounter the same problem: Putin is one step ahead of them.

Long story short, America’s post-Syrian war application of its “colour revolution” technology is inadequate when it comes to toppling either the leaders of nuclear superpowers or the leaders of their ally countries (and it’s not just Eurasia that is the target of these attacks – Trump also attacks the EU [example and example], the individual states of which qualify, if to use Naryshkin’s expression, as “friends and neutral powers in the times of peace, crisis and war”). And taking into account the activity of both Russia and China in Africa today, this inadequacy can mean that the “third world” countries that previously were bulldozed by the most basic method of capturing state power may start to escape from the net of colonisation and enjoy the protection offered by Russia’s “algorithmic counter-probing”. After all, that’s what Venezuela is basically doing, and it’s the only reason Maduro, like Assad, is still in power.

Why do I use the word “algorithmic”?

If we recall, in my previous article I introduced the idea that the foreign policy decision-making of nuclear superpowers is being assisted by supercomputers, simply because the way in which we communicate and send/receive data is becoming exponentially quicker, and the human brain is not able to process such data at such speed. Because of this rapidity of communication, it has meant that one state can encroach on the sovereignty of another state (both digitally and physically), deal a blow, and withdraw to relative safety before the target has the time to adequately respond. Thus, the deployment of the S-400 allowed Russia to establish certain rules in international relations that a) take pressure off Russia’s nuclear weapons – the deterrent of all deterrents, and b) exert pressure on America in such a way that Washington currently – and probably not for the next 25 years at least – has no way of countering it.

So we understand from the description directly above that, like in any system, there can be latency/lag when it comes to responding. I have mentioned in the past how Russia was caught off balance with the first “White Helmets” false flag (Ghouta in 2013, which was designed by buy the jihadists time), since it used a media technology that has not been seen before. The second false flag – Khan Shaykhun – was much less sucessful since Russia had already deployed its jets, was able to learn from the previous false flag, and thus adjusted its algorithm (see my previous article, especially the section about media disinformation with complex equations) and deploy a counter media campaign. The third false flag – Douma – was even more of a failure.

The aim of the adversary is to outmanoeuvre the rival in the global information space via a coordinated media and ground campaign (coined by some as “fourth generation warfare”). The “White Helmets” have to film the false flag, and the agencies have to spread the fake footage in parallel, coordinating it with the general daily topics in such a way that the consumer feels that their regular “trustworthy” news service is the same as it’s always been – because of course, the last thing a neoliberal government wants is its subjects starting to entertain the idea that one’s government is sponsoring Al Qaeda. In other words, the higher the geopolitical stakes, the more technologically sophisticated the methods used in the information space.

In this affair it’s not just about the speed of a “hybrid” attack, but also about its composition. One can have the most rapid “input->process->output” informational algorithm, but it is useless if it cannot provide multiple angles of attack.

Here is a very abstract (rushed) diagram I made just to illustrate this point. The black circle represents a designated point in time, when all media resources will parrot “Assad gassed his own people” in sync. The objective of America is to coordinate as many “chemical attack reports” as possible, thus making it look “credible”. The red arrows represent Russia’s counter attack, which will prevent the black circle from growing (the West employing more media resources/NGOs to disseminate the disinformation) or moving forward (the West using the same amount of resources, but reporting “updates” later along the timeline). This is how the attempt to execute a fourth false flag was negated – see hereherehere, and here for examples. As I mentioned in another article, this same preventative tactic was used in Donbass a lot to stop the US’ aggressive exertion of pressure. Of course, the map is not the territory, and the diagram below is not supposed to literally depict how the Russian Ministry of Defence’s supercomputer works.

Ollie's MacBook:Users:O-RICH:Downloads:Untitled Diagram.pngThe reader may be thinking “You said that Syria was an example of a ‘colour revolution’, not of ‘algorithmic probing’, so why use it as an example?” The answer is: Syria is not a nuclear superpower, and thus “colour revolution” technology (albeit incrementally improved over the many years of the war) worked. In the case of Russia, “colour revolution” technology doesn’t work, period. So the US’ only option is to try to inject this “virus”, as Naryshkin calls it. Thus, America’s aim is to encroach on the Russian information space without the Russian authorities having the time to repel attacks. When viewed from a gestalt perspective, America would thus have a permanent presence in the Russian information space, since by the time Russia has plugged one hole, another blow will have been landed from another angle.

Navalny, Golunov, the Yeltsin Center, RBK, Kommersant, Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, Roizman, Kasparov, Kasyanov, Gorbachev, Solzhenitsyn – America sure has a lot of assets at its disposal, but they all suffer from the same problem: they are designed to make Western people hate the Russian world (I doubt Russians care what rats like Jeremy Hunt thinks), but they do not noticeably shake the internal situation in Russia. And after all, it is the Russian people themselves who determine the legitimacy of the Russian government, not Joe Blogs in Coventry. As a result, America’s only hope in relation to paralyzing Putin’s legacy is to create a phantom Russian identity that can spark a civil war. This is a topic for another article, but the Russia-friendly reader mustn’t immediately start losing sleep, since I am talking about processes that need 10-20 more years before we can start to judge whether or not America’s coup d’état technology has adapted to the CIA’s needs.

One thing is for sure: as long as the Russian state is viable and self-sufficient, social unrest will remain for Washington only a wet dream, not a reality. And it’s not excluded that the socio-economic situation inside America and/or the EU will buckle before any Yankee algorithms start to poison the roots of the Russian state. After all, America has a rear, Russia also has information-disseminating resources, and the S-400 isn’t going anywhere. And what sort of technology does China have? Imagine if Russian and Chinese supercomputers are interconnected? Actually don’t, because I don’t want to give the reader a headache!

Pandering to Israel Means War with Iran

Global Research, May 09, 2019

The United States is moving dangerously forward in what appears to be a deliberate attempt to provoke a war with Iran, apparently based on threat intelligence provided by Israel. The claims made by National Security Advisor John Bolton and by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that there is solid evidence of Iran’s intention to attack US forces in the Persian Gulf region is almost certainly a fabrication, possibly deliberately contrived by Bolton and company in collaboration with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It will be used to justify sending bombers and additional naval air resources to confront any possible moves by Tehran to maintain its oil exports, which were blocked by Washington last week. If the US Navy tries to board ships carrying Iranian oil it will undoubtedly, and justifiably, provoke a violent response from Iran, which is precisely what Bolton, Pompeo and Netanyahu are seeking.

It would be difficult to find in the history books another example of a war fought for no reason whatsoever. As ignorant as President Donald Trump and his triumvirate or psychotics Bolton, Pompeo and Elliott Abrams are, even they surely know that Iran poses no threat to the United States. If they believe at all that a war is necessary, they no doubt base their judgment on the perception that the United States must maintain its number one position in the world by occasionally attacking and defeating someone to serve as an example of what might happen if one defies Washington. Understanding that, the Iranians would be wise to avoid confrontation until the sages in the White House move on to some easier target, which at the moment would appear to be Venezuela.

The influence of Israel over US foreign policy is undeniable, with Washington now declaring that it will “review ties” with other nations that are considered to be unfriendly to the Jewish state. For observers who might also believe that Israel and its allies in the US are the driving force behind America’s belligerency in the Middle East, there are possibly some other games that are in play, all involving Benjamin Netanyahu and his band of merry cutthroats. It is becoming increasingly apparent that foreign politicians have realized that the easiest way to gain Washington’s favor is to do something that will please Israel. In practical terms, the door to Capitol Hill and the White House is opened through the good offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Israel is desperate to confirm its legitimacy in international fora, where it has few friends in spite of an intensive lobbying campaign. It seeks to have countries that do not have an embassy in Israel to take steps to establish one, and it also wants more nations that do already have an embassy in Tel Aviv to move to Jerusalem, building on the White House’s decision taken last year to do just that. Not surprisingly, nations and political leaders who are on the make and want American support have drawn the correct conclusions and pander to Israel as a first step.

One only has to cite the example of Venezuela. Juan Guaido, the candidate favored by Washington for regime change, has undoubtedly a lot of things on his plate but he has proven willing to make some time to say what Benjamin Netanyahu wants to hear, as reported by the Israeli media. The Times of Israel describes how

“Venezuela’s self-proclaimed leader Juan Guaido is working to re-establish diplomatic relations with Israel and isn’t ruling out placing his country’s embassy in Jerusalem, according to an interview with an Israeli newspaper published Tuesday.”

One would think that Guaido would consider his interview sufficient, but he has also taken the pandering process one step farther, reportedly displaying huge video images of the flags of both Israel and the United States at his rallies.

This deference to Israel’s interests produced an almost immediate positive result with Netanyahu recognizing him as the legitimate Venezuelan head of state, followed by an echo chamber of effusive congratulations from US (sic) Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who praised the Jewish state for “standing with the people of Venezuela and the forces of freedom and democracy.” Donald Trump’s esteemed special envoy for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, also joined in, praising the Israeli government for its “courageous stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people.”

A similar bonding took place regarding Brazil, where hard right conservative leader Jair Bolsonaro was recently elected president. Netanyahu attended the Bolsonaro inauguration last December and the two men benefit from strong support from Christian Evangelicals. Bolsonaro repaid the favor by promising that Israel would be his first foreign trip. In the event he went to Washington first, but the state visit to Israel took place in April, just before that country’s elections, in a bid to demonstrate international support for Netanyahu.

Brazilian Jews constitute a wealthy and powerful community which reacted positively to Bolsonaro’s pledges to fight corruption and high crime rates while also repairing a struggling economy. They also appreciated his stance on Israel. He committed to moving the Brazilian embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, though he has backpedaled a bit on that pledge. And he also promised to shut the Palestinian embassy in the capital Brasilia. He famously asked and answered his own question,

“Is Palestine a country? Palestine is not a country, so there should be no embassy here. You do not negotiate with terrorists.”

Bolsonaro’s pro-Israel anti-Venezuela credentials also endeared him to Donald Trump on a visit to Washington in mid-March which was described by the media as a “love fest.” The Brazilian leader’s visits to Israel and the US as well as Guaido’s promises to Israel reveal that the foreign policies of Tel Aviv and Washington have become inextricably intertwined, with supplicant nations and politicians wisely seeking to do homage to both regimes to gain favor. It is a development that would shock the Founding Fathers, most particularly George Washington, who warned against entangling alliances, and it means that American interests will be seen through an Israeli prism, a reality that has already produced very bad results.

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Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served nineteen years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was the CIA Chief of Base for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in December 2001. Phil is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a Washington-based advocacy group that seeks to encourage and promote a U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values and interests.

Pence to Offer ’Carrots’ to Venezuela Military, Warnings to Judges

By Roberta Rampton – Reuters

US Vice President Mike Pence is set on Tuesday to offer new incentives to Venezuela’s military to turn against President Nicolas Maduro, responding to an attempted uprising that fizzled out last week, a senior administration official told Reuters.

In a speech to the Americas Society at the State Department, scheduled for 3:25 p.m., Pence will also warn that the United States will soon move to sanction 25 additional magistrates on Venezuela’s Supreme Court, the official said on Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Pence will also offer assistance for refugees who have fled the country, and an economic aid package contingent on a political transition, according to the official.

Pence’s speech will be the first look at the Trump administration’s recalibrated strategy following massive street protests last week led by Juan Guaido, the opposition leader backed by the United States and most other Western countries.

Guaido had described the protests as the start of his “final phase” to oust Maduro, but mass military defections failed to come to fruition.

US President Donald Trump has invested considerable political capital in the diplomatic and economic intervention in the Venezuela crisis.

Although Guaido’s attempted uprising failed to immediately dislodge Maduro, it exposed new fissures within the country, the official said.

“A week before last, all the media – including you guys, everybody – was writing about how there’s no way forward, complete stalemate,” the official said.

“Suddenly last week, everyone woke up.”

New Carrots, And a Stick

Guaido, the president of the country’s national assembly, invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to declare himself interim president of the country, arguing that Maduro’s 2018 re-election was ‘illegitimate.’

Maduro – who has said Guaido is a puppet of Washington – has sought to show that the military remains on his side, but opposition leaders and US officials have said that support is tenuous.

“They sat back in the barracks and they’re there, but they don’t want to be identified as the institutional source of repression,” the official said.

Pence will offer new “carrots” to the Venezuelan military, the senior official told Reuters, declining to provide details of the incentives ahead of the speech.

“He’ll be showing where the opportunities lay if people do the right thing moving forward,” the official said.

Pence is also set to outline new assistance for Venezuelans who have fled the oil-rich OPEC member, which has been plagued by hyperinflation and shortages of food, water, power and medicine – and a “Day One” economic assistance plan for Venezuela contingent on Maduro’s departure, the official added.

The vice president in addition will deliver a “warning shot” to magistrates on Venezuela’s Supreme Court. The Treasury Department sanctioned the court’s president, Maikel Moreno, in 2017 and the seven principal members of its constitutional chamber – and is now preparing to sanction the 25 remaining members of the court, the official said.

“We feel like that’s where the pressure needs to be,” according to the official.

“All 32 magistrates in the TSJ are going to sink or swim together,” the official said, using the acronym for Tribunal Supremo de Justicia.

The court would be responsible for signing off on any warrant for an arrest of Guaido – a move the US official emphasized would have severe consequences.

The United States imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in January. Oil provides 90 percent of export revenue for Venezuela.

The administration also continues to work on other responses to increase financial pressure on Maduro, including “secondary sanctions” on companies from other countries that do business with Venezuela, and additional shipping sanctions for oil, the official said.

RussiaGate 2.0 and The Plan to Impeach President Trump

Global Research, May 05, 2019

In the wake of RussiaGate 1.0, will there be a shift in US foreign policy involving a decisive change in US-Russia relations?

Is the Witch-hunt over? 

Or is RussiaGate 2.0 in the making? 

On March 3, Trump and Putin held a telephone conversation. They spoke for an hour and a half.

The discussions were described by Trump as “positive”.

Trump “unofficially” discussed “The Russian Hoax” with Vladimir Putin. “Very Productive Talk”.

“Getting along with Russia and China, getting along with all of them is a very good thing, not a bad thing, it a good thing, it’s a positive thing,” (to reporters on May 3)

Trump confirmed that he was open to negotiations on reducing the stock of nuclear weapons with both Moscow and Beijing in the context of a trilateral deal (US-Russia-China). Indelibly, such an agreement could potentially destabilize Trump’s 1.2 trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. It could also have an impact on the movement of Aerospace and Defense (A & D) stocks, which experienced a market bonanza in 2018.

The lifting of sanctions on North Korea, Ukraine and the crisis in Venezuela were also discussed.

The Trump-Putin telephone initiative was taken without prior consultation with John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, who have systematically blocked the restoration of normal dialogue and diplomatic exchange with Moscow.

Is this part of an unfolding internal battle between Trump and his national security advisers, not to mention Vice President Mike Pence? (image right).

President Trump’s overture to the Kremlin visibly contradicts both Bolton and Pompeo who are threatening president Maduro,  pressuring him to leave Venezuela and hand over the presidency to Guaido.  According to Trump:

“He [Putin] is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela other than he’d like to see something positive happen for Venezuela,”

It is worth noting that two days prior to the Trump-Putin telephone conversation, Pompeo told Lavrov (also in a telephone conversation) that

“the intervention by Russia and Cuba is destabilizing for Venezuela and for the U.S.-Russia bilateral relationship.”

In a bitter irony, this (telephone) statement by Pompeo was made on the same day (May 1st) as the failed “military coup” in Caracas.

Will Trump’s dialogue with Putin have a bearing on the Bolton-Pompeo threats directed against the Maduro government? Was Trump’s call to Putin (May 3) meant to override Pompeo’s overt threats (May 1st) to intervene militarily in Venezuela?

Lavrov and Pompeo are set to meet early this week in Finland. Will Pompeo, a former army officer, Christian evangelical and for a short while a former-CIA director change his tone and approach following Trump’s telephone conversation with Putin? Unlikely. Mike Pompeo has been the architect of numerous foreign policy blunders since his appointment by Trump first as CIA director in January 2017 and then as Secretary of State.

The presumption of the mainstream media (which borders on ridicule) is that Donald Trump as president of the United States should have sought the green-light from Bolton-Pompeo. The fact of the matter is that these two individuals are deliberately involved in sabotaging US relations with a large number countries:

The conversation, which Trump went on to describe as “very positive,” appeared to be yet another example of Trump taking Putin’s claims at face value despite contrary evidence from his own governmentThe White House national security adviser, John Bolton, and U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo both said earlier this week that the Kremlin talked Maduro out of leaving Venezuela after U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido attempted to end his regime on Tuesday by calling for a military uprising. (emphasis added)

RussiaGate 2.0

How is this internal confrontation going to evolve? Who is calling the shots at the White House?

Pompeo and Bolton are an obstacle to normalizing diplomatic relations with Russia. They are dangerous individuals, psychopathic in their understanding of global geopolitics, influential with regard to sanctions and  military intervention. They are also misinformed with regard to the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, which they consider as peace-making bombs.

Both Bolton and Pompeo were instrumental in the sabotage of the latest US-North Korea summit in Hanoi.

Impeachment

Despite the release of the Mueller report, the impeachment campaign prevails. Immediately following the Putin-Trump telephone conversation, the campaign to impeach Trump has gone into high gear.

The Atlantic, March 2019

Will The Kremlin Intervene in the 2020 elections? 

Another absurd proposition: The US media is now intimating that Trump’s conversation with Putin is setting the stage for Kremlin intervention in the 2020 elections:

“Mr. President, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?” a reporter asked.

“Excuse me, I’m talking, I’m answering this question. You are very rude. So we had a good conversation about several different things,” Trump told the reporter.

When asked again about Russian interference in future U.S. elections, Trump said: “We didn’t discuss that.”

According to the Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro

“President Donald Trump wants Russia to interfere on his behalf again in 2020”.

“All of a sudden, he’s willing to take the word of a leader like Vladimir Putin who, time and again, has shown himself to be adversarial to the United States and to be dishonest,” .

In turn, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is now candidate for the 2020 presidential elections has stated:

 “that Congress would have “no alternative” but to impeach President Trump if his administration seeks to block its investigations of issues raised in the special counsel’s report on Russian election interference.” (WaPo, April 30, 2019)

See Trump’s press conference 


ANNEX.

The Russian embassy in the US on the Trump-Putin Telephone Exchange

Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with President of the United States of America Donald Trump, at the initiative of the American side.

The current state and prospects of bilateral relations were discussed with a focus on economic cooperation. The two presidents spoke in favour of developing mutually beneficial trade and investment relations. They affirmed their shared commitment to step up dialogue in various areas, including on issues of strategic stability.

Vladimir Putin informed Donald Trump of the key results of his April 25 meeting in Vladivostok with Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK Kim Jong-un, stressing that Pyongyang’s good-faith fulfilment of its commitments should be accompanied by reciprocal steps to ease the sanctions pressure on North Korea. Both parties noted the importance of consistent progress towards denuclearisation and achieving long-term normalisation on the Korean Peninsula.

The situation in Ukraine was touched on in the context of the recent presidential election. Vladimir Putin emphasised that the new leadership in Kiev should take real steps to implement the Minsk Agreements, which are critical to resolving the internal Ukrainian conflict.

While exchanging views on the situation around Venezuela, the President of Russia underscored that only the Venezuelans themselves have the right to determine the future of their country, whereas outside interference in the country’s internal affairs and attempts to change the government in Caracas by force undermine prospects for a political settlement of the crisis.

It was agreed to maintain contacts at various levels.

The two heads of state expressed satisfaction with the business-like and constructive nature of the conversation.
——————

“The conversation between Trump and Putin lasted for almost 1.5 hours,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
More:
http://tass.com/world/1056870

Venezuela – Another Failed Coup Attempt – What’s Next?

May 01, 2019

by Peter Koenig  for The Saker Blog

Venezuela – Another Failed Coup Attempt – What’s Next?

In the early morning hours of 30 April, 2019, the self-declare “Interim President”, Juan Guaidó, launched what at first sight appeared to be a military coup – Guaidó calls it “Operation Freedom” (sounds very much like a Washington-invented title) – against the democratically elected, legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro. With two dozen of defected armed military from the Carlota military base east of Caracas (not hundreds, or even thousands, as reported by the mainstream media), Guaidó went to free Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition leader, who was under house arrest, after his 13-year prison sentence for his role in the deadly 2014 anti-government protests, was commuted. They first called for a full military insurrection – which failed bitterly, as the vast majority of the armed forces are backing President Maduro and his government.

As reported straight from Caracas by geopolitical analyst, Dario Azzelli, Guaidó and López rallied from the Plaza Altamira, for the people of Venezuela to rise up and take to the streets to oust President Maduro. According to them, this was the ‘last phase’ of a peaceful coup to bring freedom and democracy back to Venezuela. The nefarious pair issued a video of their “battle cry” which they broadcast over the social media.

They mobilized a few hundred – again not thousands as pers SMS – right-wing middle to upper class protestors and marched towards the Presidential Palace. On the way, they were confronted by the Venezuelan Civil Guard with tear gas – not even the military had to intervene – and only few protestors reached Miraflores which was protectively surrounded by thousands of Chavistas. And that was basically the end of yet another failed coup.

Leopoldo López was seeking asylum in the Chilean Embassy which rejected him, and now, it looks like he found his refuge in the Spanish Embassy. This is a huge embarrassment and outright shame for Spain, especially after the Socialist Party, PSOE, just won the elections with 29%, though not enough to form a government by its own, but largely sufficient to call the shots as to whom should be granted asylum on their territory. Looks like fascism is still alive in Spain, if Pedro Sanchez is not able to reject a right-wing fascist opposition and illegal coup leader of Venezuela to gain refuge on Spain’s territory.

As to Guaidó, rumors have it that he found refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, though some reports say he is being protected by his Colombian friends. Both is possible, Bolsonaro and Duque are of same fascist kind, certainly ready to grant criminals – what Guaidó is – asylum.
——

What is important to know, though, is that throughout the day of the attempted coup, 30 April, the US State Department, in the person of the pompous Pompeo, accompanied by the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, kept threatening President Maduro in a press round. Pompeo directly menaced President Maduro, saying – “If they ask me if the US is prepared to consider military action [in Venezuela], if this is what is necessary to restore democracy in Venezuela, the President [Donald Trump] has been coherent and clear: The military option is available, if this is what we have to do.” – These threats are repeated throughout May 1 – day after the Venezuelan attempted coup defeat by both Pompeo and warrior Bolton.

Pompeo’s audacity didn’t stop there. He went as far as suggesting to President Maduro to flee to Cuba and leave his country to those that will bring back (sic) freedom and democracy.

Let’s be clear. Although this has been said before – it cannot be repeated enough for the world to understand. These outright war criminals in Washington are in flagrant violation of the UN Charter to which the US is – for good or for bad – a signatory.

UN Charter – Chapter I, Article 2 (4), says:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

We know that the White House, Pentagon and State Department have zero respect for the UN, and, in fact, use the international body for their purposes, manipulating and blackmailing its members into doing the bidding for the US. That is all known and has been documented. What is perhaps newer is that this is now happening, especially in the cases of Venezuela and Iran, openly, in unveiled flagrant disrespect of any international law, against bodies and sovereign countries that do not bend to the whims and will of the United States.

As a result of this open violation of the UN Charter by the world’s only rogue state, some 60 UN member nations, including Russia and China, have formed a solid shield against Washington’s aggressions. The group was created especially in defense of Venezuela, but is also there for Iran and other countries being aggressed and threatened by the US. Hence, the blatant blackmailing and manipulation of weaker UN member countries becomes more difficult.

To be sure, the Russian Foreign Ministry has immediately condemned the coup as illegal and warned the US of any military intervention. This is of course not the first time, but just to be sure – Russia is there, standing by her partner and friend, Venezuela.

——

This Guaidó–Lopez attempted coup was most certainly following instructions from Washington. Super-puppet Guaidó, US-groomed and trained, then self-declared “presidente interino”, would not dare doing anything on his own initiative which might raise the wrath of his masters. But would the US – with all her secret services capacity – seriously launch a coup so ill-prepared that it is defeated in just a few hours with minimal intervention of Venezuelan forces? – I doubt it.

What is it then, other than a planned failure? – A new propaganda instrument, for the corporate MSM to run amok and tell all kinds of lies, convincing its complacent western public of the atrocities produced by the Maduro regime, the misery Venezuelan people must live, famine, disease without medication, oppression by dictatorship, torture, murder – whatever they can come up with. You meet any mainstream-groomed people in Europe and elsewhere, even well-educated people, people who call themselves ‘socialists’ and are leading figures in European socialist parties, they would tell you these same lies about misery caused by the Maduro regime.

How could that be – if the Maduro Government doesn’t even arrest Juan Guaidó for his multiple crimes committed since January, when he self-proclaimed being the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela. Arresting him, for the coup attempts he initiated or was party to since his auto coronation to president. That’s what a dictator would do. That’s what the United States of America, would have done a long time ago. Washington and its internal security apparatus would certainly not tolerate such illegal acts – and to top it off – foreign manipulated political illegality.

Why for example, would the media not point out the real crimes of the US vassals of South America, like Colombia, where over 6 million people are internal and external refugees, where at least 240,000 peasants and human rights activists were massacred and many were burned by US-funded paramilitary groups, atrocities that are ongoing as of this day, despite the November 2016 signed “Peace Agreement” between the then Santos Government and the FARC – for which President Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize. – Can you imagine!

What world are we living in? A world of everyday deceit and lies and highly paid lie-propaganda, paid with fake money – fake as in indiscriminately printed US-dollars – of which every new dollar is debt that will never be paid back (as openly admitted by former FEDs Chairman, Alan Greenspan); dollars that can be indiscriminately spent to produce the deadliest weapons, as well as for corporate media-propaganda lies – also a deadly weapon – to indoctrinate people around the globe into believing that evil is good, and that war is peace.

I have lost many friends by telling them off, by telling them the truth, the truth about Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Syria – mostly to no avail. It’s actually no loss; it’s merely a repeated confirmation of how far the western society has been veered off the path of conscience into a comfort zone, where believing the propaganda lies of reputed media like The Guardian, NYT, WashPost, BBC, FAZ, Spiegel, Le Monde, Figaro, el País, ABC — and so on, is edifying. They are so convincing. They are so well-reputed and well-known. How could they lie? – No loss, indeed.

Let’s stay on track, comrades. Venceremos!

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.
Peter Koenig is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

 

 

The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

The head of the Russian GRU reveals US plans against Venezuela (MUST SEE!)

May 02, 2019

The U.S. wants to change the government in Venezuela and use Colombia to do that. The head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, Vice-Admiral Igor Kostyukov, stated that. He made that statement at the conference on international security. It was held last week in Moscow.

The Spontaneous “Military Coup” in Caracas was Meant to Fail?

Comparison with the Failed June 29, 1973 Coup which preceded the September 11, 1973 military coup against Salvador Allende

Global Research, May 01, 2019

Was it really a military coup? 

Anybody who has lived in Caracas, knows that you cannot wage a spontaneous military coup starting up in Chacaito, an upper middle class residential area, with a view to eventually marching towards the Miraflores presidential palace located in the historical centre of Caracas, without getting caught in dense traffic.  

There are important historical precedents of failed coups caught up in traffic.

Guaido presents the operation as the “Final phase” of “Operation Freedom.” ???

An attempted coup or violent street riots?

Lopez and Guaido released videos on social media, calling on the armed forces to back their efforts and urging supporters to take to the streets, in what they termed as the “final phase” of the so-called “Operation Freedom.” Large crowds of anti-government protesters, as well as opposition lawmakers, made their way to the Altamira overpass. (Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

The government responded by sending in the riot police, with the Armed Forces using tear gas against the protesters.

This spontaneous so-called military putsch was meant to fail.

Visibly, it was not a carefully planned operation. And Washington was fully aware from the outset that it would fail.  In fact it was carefully staged “not to succeed”:

The scene then saw armed confrontations between the soldiers that backed Juan Guaido and those inside La Carlota airbase.

[Carlota is not a full-fledged military base, it is a former private airport, largely defunct. It is now under the jurisdiction of the State of Miranda, used for both military and civilian emergencies]

According to witnesses in La Carlota [air base], the Venezuelan armed forces fired tear gas towards the Altamira overpass, where civilian protesters began to gather, whereas Guaido’s soldiers returned live fire. Riot police also appeared on the scene to try and disperse the crowds. There are reports of protesters wounded and arrested that are unconfirmed at the time of writing.

At the same time, many of the originally deployed soldiers withdrew from the scene, later revealing that they had been “deceived” by their superiors. Simultaneously, Chavista leaders took to state and social media to denounce what they termed a coup in progress, and large crowds gathered to defend Miraflores Presidential Palace.

Guaido later attempted to lead a march, including some armed soldiers, into western Caracas but was stopped by Venezuelan National Guard forces in Chacaito, some 10 kilometers away from Miraflores.(Venezuela Analysis, May 1, 2019)

From Washington’s standpoint, the ‘putsch” nonetheless served a “useful” purpose. It created a “narrative”, which serves as propaganda and media disinformation.  In turn, the Western media goes into high gear.

The “coup” becomes a talking point for the Bolton -Pompeo national security team. It becomes a pretext and a justification for US military intervention in the name of Democracy at some future date. See Pompeo below

 

National security Advisor John Bolton calls upon Venezuela’s military to intervene, with US support.

Mild thunder before the storm? It sets the stage? What is the intended timeline?

A failed putsch which may be followed by a “real” US sponsored military coup at some later date? That option is already on the drawing-board of the Pentagon.

The failed coup, a sloppy intelligence operation? Unlikely. US intelligence was fully informed.

Was this event planned to fail from the very outset?

***

An Important Historical Precedent, Santiago de Chile. The Failed June 29, 1973 Coup

In Chile in 1973, the September 11 coup d’Etat which led to the assassination of Allende and the installation of a military government was a carefully prepared military-intelligence operation supported by the US. with Henry Kissinger playing a key role.

Of historical significance: The September 11, 1973 coup was preceded by a failed coup on June 29, 1973 , which, in retrospect, was intended to fail.

In 1973, I was visiting professor at the Catholic University of Chile. The following text is an excerpt from an article I wrote in Santiago de Chile in the immediate wake of September 11, 1973 military coup against the democratically elected government of president Salvador Allende.

Bear in mind: The circumstances of  Chile in 1973 as well as the command structure of the (Chilean) Armed Forces were very different to those of Venezuela in 2019.

In the course of the months of July-August 1973, following the June 29, 1973 failed coup, important shifts occurred within Chile’s Armed Forces.In turn, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring the military into the government.

Chile: The June 29, 1973 Failed Coup

On June 29, 1973, Coronal Roberto Souper led his tank division in an isolated attack on La Moneda, the Presidential Palace, in the hope that other units of the armed forces would join in. The June coup had initially been planned for the morning of September 27 by Patria y Libertad as well as by several high ranking military officers. The plans were found out by Military Intelligence and the coup was called off at 6pm on the 26th. A warrant for the arrest of Coronal Souper had been issued. Confronted with knowledge of his impending arrest, Colonel Souper in consultation with the officers under his command, decided to act in a most improvised fashion. At 9 am, amidst morning rush hour traffic, Tank Division Number Two drove down Bernardo O’Higgins, Santiago’s main down-town avenue towards the Presidential Palace.

While the aborted June Coup had the appearance of an insolated and uncoordinated initiative, there was evidence of considerable support in various sectors of the Navy as well as from Air Force General Gustovo Leigh, now [September 1973] member of the military junta [on 11 September General Leigh integrated the military Junta headed by General Pinochet]. According to well-informed sources, several high ranking officers in the aero-naval base of Quintero near Valparaiso had proposed the bombing of State enterprises controlled by militant left wing groups, as well as the setting up of an air corridor to transport navy troops. The latter were slated to join up with the forces of Colonel Souper in Santiago.

The June trial coup was «useful» indicating to the seditious elements within the Chilean Armed Forces that an isolated and uncoordinated effort would fail. After June 29, the right-wing elements in the Navy and the Air Force were involved in a process of consolidation aimed at gaining political support among officers and sub-officers. The Army, however, was still under the control of Commander in Chief General Carols Prats, who had previously integrated Allende’s cabinet and who was a firm supporter of constitutional government.

Meanwhile in the political arena, the Christian Democrats were pressuring Allende to bring in members of the Military into the Cabinet as well as significantly revise the programme and platform of the Unidad Popular. Party leaders of the government coalition considered this alternative [proposed by the Christian democrats] as a « legalized military coup» (golpe legal) and advised Allende to turn it down. Carlos Altamirano, leader of the Socialist Party had demanded that an endorsement of the programme of the Popular Unity coalition by the military be a sina qua non condition for their entry into the Cabinet. Upon the impossibility of bringing in the Military into the Cabinet on acceptable terms, Allende envisaged the formation of a so-called “Cabinet of Consolidation” composed of well known personalities. Fernando Castillo, rector of the Catholic University and a member of the Christian Democratic Party, Felipe Herrera, President of the Inter-|American Development Bank and other prominent personalities were approached but declined. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Ingredients of a Military Coup, Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, September 1973)

Minor edits to this text on May 1-2, 2019

Behold the Breathtaking Weakness of the Empire!

 • APRIL 30, 2019

The Empire has suffered painful defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq, but one has to admit that these are “tough” countries to crack. The Empire also appears to have lost control of Libya, but that is another complex country which is very hard to control. We also saw all the pathetic huffing and puffing with the DPRK. But, let’s be honest, the US never stood a chance to bully the DPRK into submission, nevermind invading or regime-changing it. Syria was much weaker, but here Russia, Iran and Hezbollah did a world class job of repelling all the AngloZionist attacks, political and military. Besides, I for one will never blame Trump for not listening to Bolton and not triggering WWIII over Syria (yet?)

But Venezuela?!

No Hezbollah or Iran backing Maduro there. And Venezuela is way too far away from Russia to allow her to do what she did in Syria. In fact, Venezuela is in the proverbial “backyard” of the US and is surrounded by hostile puppet regimes. And yet, tonight, it appears that the US puppet Guaidó has failed in his coup attempt.

Moon of Alabama did a great job covering the events of the day, so I will refer you to the excellent article “Venezuela – Random Guyaidó’s New Coup Attempt Turns Out to Be A Dangerous Joke“. I fully concur that today’s coup was both a joke and very dangerous.

Russian readers can also check out this article by Vzgliad which also gives a lot of interesting details, including the fact that Guaidó launched his coup from the Colombian Embassy in Caracas (see here for a machine translation).

But the thing which amazes me most tonight is the truly breathtakingly pathetic weakness of the clowns who launched this latest failed operation: Pompeo and Mr MAGA. Check them out:

Let’s begin with Pompeo.

According to him, the coup failed because of Russia (what else is new?)! Not only that, but Maduro had already decided to run to Cuba, but then the Russians stopped him.

Really?

So are we to believe that the coup was a stunning success, yet another feather to the CIA’s “hat” of failed successful covert operations? Apparently so.

After all, why would Maduro want to run unless he realized that the situation was hopeless?

But then “Russia” called him and told him to stay put. The conversation must gone something like this:

Putin: Mr Maduro – you don’t need to worry about a thing. Just do what we tell you and stay put.
Maduro: but my people hate me! They all turned against me! The military is behind the coup!
Putin: no, no, it’s all under control, just stay put.
Maduro: but the mob will lynch me if I stay!!!!
Putin: no worries, nobody will touch you.

Does that dialog look credible to you? I sure hope not! I think that anybody with a modicum of intelligence ought to realize that Maduro’s decision to stay in place could only have been based on one of two possible considerations:

  1. The coup has failed and Maduro is safe or
  2. The coup is successful and Maduro will stay and fight till his last breath (like Allende did)

But tonight Maduro is safe in Caracas and the coup plotters are on the run.

The truth is that only a loser and imbecile like Pompeo could come up with such a lame excuse in a desperate attempt to “cover his ass” and blame his failure on the Neocon’s favorite scapegoat: Russia.

Now let’s check what his boss had to say:

Trump does not blame Russia. Instead, he blames Cuba!

I don’t know what kind of silly scenarios Mr MAGA ran in his head to come up with “the Cubans did it” but that is even more ridiculous than “the Russians did it”. Reading this “tweets” (how appropriate for this bird-brain!) one could get the impression that the Cubans launched a full-scale military attack (involving both the Cuban military and “militias”) and that they orchestrated a brutal crack-down on the Venezuelan people.

In the real world, however, Cuba did nothing of the sort.

But, really, who cares?!

In the Empire of Illusions fact don’t matter. At least to the leaders of the AngloZionist Empire who continue to believe that only spin matters.

In the case of Venezuela, spin alone failed.

So what’s next?

According to the typical scenario revealed to us by John Perkins, the next step should be a full-scale US invasion. And yes, he is right, that would be what the Empire would have done in its heyday. But nowadays?

Check out this interesting news snippet: Eric Prince wants Blackwater to send 5,000 mercenaries to Venezuela (does anybody know why and how these clowns came up with the 5,000 figure? First Bolton, now Prince. Do they really think that this is enough?!).

The point is not whether Prince will ever get to send mercenaries to Venezuela or whether the Trump administration is inclined to accept this offer. The point is that Prince would have never made this offer in the first place if the US military was up to the task. It is not, and Prince knows that very well.

The military stands by the Constitutional government of Venezuela
The military stands by the Constitutional government of Venezuela

As for Maduro, he seems to have the support not only of a majority of his people, but of the Venezuelan armed forces. As for the armed forces, they are clearly enjoying the support of the people.

This is a very bad combination for the Empire. Here is why:

Yes, Venezuela has immense problems. And yes, both Chavez and Maduro have made mistakes. But this is not about Chavez or Maduro, this is about the rule of law inside and outside Venezuela. This is about the people of Venezuela, even the suffering ones, not willing to renounce the sovereignty of their country. Yes, Chavez did not solve all of Venezuela’s problems, but to deliver the country to the Empire would mean crushing any hope of true, real, people power. The Venezuelan people apparently have no illusions about their Yankee neighbors and they don’t want the Empire-style “democracy” to turn Venezuela into the next Libya.

I should never say never, and God only knows what tomorrow (May 1st) will bring (Guaido has called for a mass protests) but my gut feeling is that the Empire “injected” itself into Venezuela just enough to trigger an immune reaction, like a vaccine, but not enough to infect Venezuela with a toxin powerful enough to kill it.

In the meantime, US aircraft carriers are in the Mediterranean trying to scare Russia, Syria and Iran all at the same time. I can just imagine the disgusted contempt with which this latest sabre-rattling with outdated hardware is received in Moscow, Damascus or Tehran. Even Hezbollah remains utterly unimpressed.

The truth is that the only people who have not come to the realization that the Empire is broken and defeated are the rulers of the Neocon deep state and those who still watch the legacy Ziomedia.

By now everybody else has realized who utterly impotent the Empire has become.

Conclusion:

The Empire only appears to be strong. In reality it is weak, confused, clueless and, most importantly, run by a sad gang of incompetent thugs who think that they can scare everybody into submission in spite of not having won a single significant war since 1945. The inability to break the will of the people of Venezuela is only the latest symptom of this mind-boggling weakness.

I will leave the last word to this charming lady who really said it all:

Maduro Declares Victory over Coup Plotters

 May 1, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said his troops have thwarted a botched attempt to topple him masterminded by Venezuela’s “coup-mongering far right” and Donald Trump’s deranged imperialist “gang”.

In an hour-long address to the nation on Tuesday night, Maduro accused opposition leader Juan Guaidó and his political mentor Leopoldo López of seeking to spark an armed confrontation that might be used as a pretext for a foreign military intervention.

He said that he had appointed prosecutors to investigate a coup attempt in his country. He also added that a number of people are being questioned in connection with the issue.

Maduro added that five military staff were injured during unrest on Tuesday, adding that two of them were in critical condition.

On Tuesday morning, Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido and his supporters gathered in Caracas on a highway in front of La Carlota military base. Previously, Guaido called on the people of Venezuela and the army to take to the streets to complete the operation to overthrow the legitimate head of state, Maduro.

“This cannot go unpunished. I have spoken to the attorney general, and he has appointed three national prosecutors who are questioning everyone involved in this event, and they are tasked with investigating and filing criminal charges,” Maduro told the state television.

The Venezuelan president has also announced that he appointed Gen. Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez as the head of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service of Venezuela (SEBIN).

SourceAgencies

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Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

April 22, 2019

Lavrov’s interview for Zvezda network

 

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s interview for Glavnoye with Olga Belova programme on Zvezda network, Moscow, April 21, 2019

http://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/-/asset_publisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/3622162?p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw&_101_INSTANCE_cKNonkJE02Bw_languageId=en_GB

Olga Belova: Mr Lavrov, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview today. Thank you for your time. We are recording this interview on the eve of the second round of Ukraine’s presidential election, so if you would allow me, we will begin with this subject, since it is currently making headlines. Against this backdrop we cannot fail but to recall the events that took place five years ago during the 2014 election in Ukraine. Since then the question of whether Russia had to recognise the outcome of the 2014 election resurfaces from time to time in the public space. What will happen this time around? Does recognising this election make any sense? We understand all too well that Russia has many formal and moral reasons to break up all contacts with the Ukrainian authorities.

Sergey Lavrov: Five years ago when the presidential election was called in Ukraine, it happened in the aftermath of an armed and anti-constitutional government coup that, for some reason, was carried out within a day after the signing of an agreement between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovich. Moreover, foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France assumed the role of guarantors under this agreement that was also proactively backed by the US. But the next morning the opposition announced on Maidan Square that they had seized power and had formed a government of victors. This is when they began splitting their people apart. This agreement was signed on February 21, 2014, and if we recall its text, the first paragraph sets forth the need to form a “national unity government.” Instead, they established a government of victors, and started treating everyone else like losers. They put forward multiple requirements that ran counter to the interests of a significant part of people in Ukraine, including minorities such as Russians and Russian speakers. All this brought about serious problems and triggered a referendum in Crimea as a response to the threats made by nationalists to expel Russians from the peninsula and attempts to take over the Supreme Council building by force.

Let me mention one more event. In mid-April, that is before the election was called, but after the referendum in Crimea, Geneva hosted a meeting attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, yours truly, EU High Commissioner for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton, and then acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Andrey Deshitsa. At this meeting we agreed on a one-page declaration, and its key provision consisted of supporting the intention of the Ukrainian authorities to implement federalisation, that is to decentralise the country with the involvement of all regions. A representative of the new Ukrainian government that came to power in Kiev following a coup signed this document, guaranteeing federalisation with the involvement of all regions of the country.

But this commitment was instantly forgotten. Against this backdrop, when people started to state their intention to run for president, President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko was saying on every street corner that he was a “president of peace” and would settle the conflict in a matter of two or three weeks. It is for this reason that Western capitals, Paris and Berlin, urged Russia to refrain from making a statement rejecting the election outcome. We did refrain in order to give them a chance.

In early June 2014, President-elect Petr Poroshenko met with President of France Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of Russia Vladimir Putin, when they all attended celebrations of the allied Normandy landings. The very fact that Vladimir Putin took part in this meeting, proposed by France and Germany, attested to Russia’s commitment to peace in Donbass and protecting the rights of those who were firm in their refusal to accept an armed coup. We proceeded from the premise that Petro Poroshenko was primarily elected for this promise to resolve the problem peacefully. With this in mind, I would refrain from stirring up the past on this particular matter.

By the way, during the Normandy format meetings that followed, Petr Poroshenko proved that he was not a “president of the peace,” and was forced by the developments on the ground to sign the Minsk Agreements. Russia also believed that it was unacceptable for him to consistently fool his people, while also lying to his curators abroad, since they were irritated by Poroshenko “getting out of hand.” I am talking about the Europeans represented within the Normandy Format, namely France and Germany. When the Minsk Agreements were signed everyone let out a sigh of relief, considering that this created a clear path to peace, especially since the UN Security Council approved the Minsk Agreements, thus implementing them into international law. However, in this sphere as well Petr Poroshenko proved to be very apt in dodging responsibility, turning for protection to the US administration which does not encourage Ukraine to abide by the Minsk Agreements. The Europeans found themselves in an awkward situation.

This was a look at the past, but coming back to your question, we have seen electoral programmes released by Petr Poroshenko and Vladimir Zelensky. We see how they approached the run-off. I have the impression that what matters the most for them at this point is to attract voters by some kind of a constructive agenda in order to secure victory. This is what their efforts are all about. I would rather not draw any final conclusions on what Vladimir Zelensky’s policy will look like if he is elected president, which is a done deal as far as observers are concerned. I would refrain from paying too much attention to declarations coming from his campaign. We have to wait for the second round results when they will have to deal with real things instead of campaign slogans and propaganda. Only then will we understand what this person as president thinks about the millions of his compatriots who speak Russian, love the Russian language and culture and want to live according to their values and the values of the winners in the Great Patriotic War, instead of being guided by values that extoll Roman Shukhevich, Stepan Bandera and other Petlyuras.

Olga Belova: You said we need to wait for the president-elect to take actual steps. Everyone realises that it is imperative to sit down and talk no matter what happens. What should Kiev’s first actions, statements and steps be so that, to use your words, Moscow “gives them another chance” to a peaceful resolution of the situation?

Sergey Lavrov: Most importantly, the new or old government should be able to talk and reach agreements and to respect international law and Ukraine’s international obligations. Such obligations include an international legal instrument which is the UN Security Council resolution, which approved the Minsk Agreements. A direct dialogue between Kiev, on the one hand, and Donetsk and Lugansk, on the other hand, lies at the core of these agreements. This will be the key to success. To reiterate, we heard about the plans to continue the settlement in the election statements, in particular, on the part of Mr Zelensky and his staff, but this time with the involvement of the United States and Great Britain and without direct dialogue with the proclaimed republics − DPR and LPR.

When contenders for a post make such statements, they will then be somehow tied in with such a position in the future. I hope that life will make them realise that there’s no alternative to implementing the Minsk Agreements and, in any case, that there’s no alternative to direct dialogue with the people who represent an enormous part of your nation, if you still consider them to be such, of course.

Olga Belova: We see that so far no one has been talking to them, and there’s no direct dialogue with the republics. Recently, the DPR published the foreign policy concept which shows a certain dualism: on the one hand, there’s a commitment to the Minsk Agreements and, on the other hand, the Republic of Donbass recognises itself as an independent state. What does Moscow think about the dualism of this document? What is your vision of the future of that region following the elections?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t see anything unusual here, because these republics proclaimed sovereignty five years ago, in May 2014, responding to what we just talked about, namely, radical nationalists who came out with strong anti-Russian statements and launched an attack on the language, cultural and religious rights of ethnic minorities. It started a long time ago. These republics responded by declaring independence. Let’s remind our Western colleagues, if they ever take any interest in these unpleasant facts from recent history, that these republics did not attack the rest of Ukraine. The rest of Ukraine declared them terrorists. This, of course, is a stunning phenomenon in modern diplomacy and politics.

The rest of Ukraine was represented by the putschists who seized power in Kiev and launched an attack on millions of their fellow citizens demanding that they submit to illegal authorities. So, as I understand it, independence was simply reaffirmed in these doctrinal documents adopted in Donbass. But after this independence was declared five years ago in May − returning to what we think about the then elections and the election of Poroshenko solely because he proclaimed that his goal was immediate peace and an immediate agreement on resolving the Donbass problem by way of talks, Russia talked these republics into agreeing to a political process.

Political and diplomatic efforts were interrupted by the military actions of Kiev, which did not respect the truce and ceasefire agreement. There was the August offensive which ended badly for the Ukrainian armed forces and, most importantly, claimed a huge number of human lives, followed by the January offensive in Debaltsevo. Only after receiving a rebuff, did Petr Poroshenko sit down at the negotiating table. That’s how the Minsk Agreements were signed.

I was in Minsk and saw how the leaders of the four countries spent 17 hours at the negotiating table taking short breaks, mostly talking between themselves, and sometimes inviting us as experts to clarify certain fine points. It took considerable effort to convince the leaders of the DPR and LPR who were present in Minsk to give the go-ahead to the Minsk Agreements. We did it. We convinced them to once again demonstrate their willingness, even determination, if you will, to achieve peace with the rest of Ukraine.

Unfortunately, the way the current Ukrainian authorities see our efforts is disappointing. Despite provocations, we will push for these agreements to be implemented. We are a country that is capable of reaching agreements.

Olga Belova: That is, if I understood you correctly, Moscow is still capable and willing to continue to influence the leadership of these republics? Are we going to push them to sit down and talk as best we can, or not? I’m asking this because the leaders of the republics have made it clear that they have parted ways with Kiev.

Sergey Lavrov: You said there was a dual decision to reaffirm independence and commitment to the Minsk Agreements. To a certain extent (I will not frame it in terms of a percentage), this is the result of our influence on them and our call for them not to follow the example of the Ukrainian authorities which break down and trample upon their own promises. We will continue to exert this influence. We have long been calling, above all, the Germans and the French, to realise their responsibility for Kiev’s behaviour, because the Minsk Agreements involve, above all, proactive steps on the part of the Ukrainian authorities. The Contact Group is the only format where Donetsk, Lugansk and Kiev sit down at one table with the representatives of the OSCE and Russia. It took an inordinate amount of effort to create it, primarily because Mr Poroshenko began to back pedal shortly after the Minsk Agreements had been signed, and refused to maintain direct dialogue with the republics. But we forced our Ukrainian colleagues do that. Although in practical work − the Contact Group meets every month −  and even more often than that the Ukrainian government outwardly sabotages everything that was agreed upon, be it security, separating forces and means, the political process, coordinating the formula for conducting elections or providing this region with a special status in accordance with the Minsk Agreements. There is an open and blatant sabotage. We need to understand how the election results will affect the Ukrainian delegation’s activities in the Contact Group, and what kind of people will be delegated there.

Olga Belova: Indeed, now everything depends on how the presidential election will end, including the situation in the Kerch Strait, which was endlessly brought up in the first part of the campaign, before the first round. How harshly are we ready to respond if another provocation is made, especially considering that NATO has declared its readiness to support Ukrainian warships if they undertake another breakthrough?

Sergey Lavrov: Morally and politically – maybe they will support it. But I do not see a situation where NATO ships will join these adventurers for a military provocation. I do not foresee such a situation, and, considering the information that we have, I have reason to believe that this has already been decided at NATO.

Olga Belova: So all the support they will be getting is just words?

Sergey Lavrov: Probably, as it was the last time, a condemnation, and once again they will come up with some new sanctions. As we have said many times, we have no problem with Ukrainian warships passing from the Black Sea to their ports in the Sea of ​​Azov. The only condition is to comply with the safety requirement for navigation along the Kerch Strait. It is a complex stretch of water, which is quite shallow and doesn’t go in a straight line and requires compulsory pilotage as well as coordination when it comes to the weather conditions. All ships — and there are thousands of them — stop at the entrance to the Kerch Strait, report to the channel operators, pilotage, recommendations, and, depending on the weather forecast, move on to the Sea of ​​Azov, as was done before Ukraine’s warships last November. They passed smoothly without any incidents.

In November 2018, Petr Poroshenko, obviously during the election heat, tried to create a scandal to have reason to appeal to the West again, complaining of Russia harassing him, and insisting on more sanctions. He is better at it than many others. So the warships tried to secretly pass through the Kerch Strait, trespassing into our territorial waters – the part that was Russia’s territorial waters even before the referendum in Crimea. What they did actually boiled down to probing the limits of those who ensure the security of the Kerch Strait and the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation.

I must note that among the numerous arguments our opponents seem to forget is the fact that the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea actually implies a so-called unimpeded passage through the territorial waters of a foreign state, including military vessels, subject to several conditions. One of them is the mandatory fulfillment of security requirements, which in this case was grossly violated. The second is that a coastal state cannot allow military ships to maneuver through its territorial waters. That is, you either pass complying with the rules or you violate the Convention. What they did was military maneuvers, trying to hide from our border guards. This much is clear to all without exception. I have no doubt about it.

That we have nothing to hide can be confirmed by a very simple fact.

In mid-December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin to allow German specialists to observe the process to better understand what the hitch was and to study the conditions for passing through the Kerch Strait. Vladimir Putin immediately agreed. We reaffirmed the agreement and asked for their names and dates that would suit them. They made a pause, and then suddenly my colleague, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, said at a meeting in January when I reminded him of this that they wanted to bring French experts along.

I said that was new, but I was confident that our President would also agree to French specialists being on this study tour. But after some time, the Germans sent us the concept of their visit, which was not a single visit at all but involved establishing a kind of permanent observation mission, which would be associated with the OSCE mission in Donbass, and would also include Ukrainians. All of them would be staying in our territory doing I do not know what.

Olga Belova: You mean they actually wanted to come and stay there?

Sergey Lavrov: Yes, they certainly wanted to stay. The Germans are usually very punctual and precise people. When Angela Merkel asked Vladimir Putin whether their experts could come and see, he said yes… Apparently, after that, they consulted with their big brothers.

Olga Belova: So they just thought it would be a good reason to enter and station their ships there?

Sergey Lavrov: Of course, but this is an absolutely hopeless story. At the same time, I can assure with all responsibility that if the Germans and the French still have an interest in visiting and seeing it firsthand, so as not to rely on the gossip that the Ukrainian side spreads, they are very welcome.

Olga Belova: You believe that Russia will not directly clash with NATO ships in the Kerch Strait because NATO will not have the courage to sail there.

But there is another place where Russian interests clash with those of its Western partners, which is Venezuela. Will Washington decide to stage a military intervention there? What do you think of this? If yes, how far is Russia ready to go in this region? Are we prepared for a direct and tough stand-off in the region that would culminate in a peace enforcement operation against those who don’t want this, provided that all legal formalities are complied with?

Sergey Lavrov: I don’t want to bring up this scenario. I am convinced that Washington does not yet completely understand that its line regarding Venezuela has become deadlocked. They believed that the people of Venezuela would rebel against the incumbent government from the very outset, that they would be disappointed with the government’s inability to ensure the normal operation of the socioeconomic sector. Our Western colleagues took care of this: The United States froze the Venezuelan oil company’s accounts, and the United Kingdom impounded the country’s gold reserves. They hoped to stifle Venezuela using economic methods. When the crisis was in its early stage, they also organised humanitarian relief aid deliveries and tried to cross the Venezuelan border. Obviously, that was a very cheap show. Yes, they said all the options were on the table, but they obviously expected a blitzkrieg. However, they admit that no blitzkrieg took place. Indeed, the country faces a very complicated economic situation which was complicated and continued to deteriorate even before all this began. We repeatedly advised the government of Venezuela, at its request, how to launch economic reforms. Quite possibly, someone did not like this, and they also decided to halt this process, so as to prevent the situation from working in favour of the Maduro government. They decided to further stifle Venezuela by economic and financial methods. When the blitzkrieg petered out, when it became clear that the people of Venezuela had their own pride and a feeling of national dignity, when they became obviously insulted by a situation when, speaking from abroad, US Vice President Mike Pence noted that he was appointing Juan Guaido as Acting President, one should be very far from historical experience while hoping that the people of Venezuela would “swallow” this.

Today, when the Americans continue to say that all options are on the table, I don’t doubt the fact that they are assessing the consequences of an audacious military undertaking. It is highly unlikely that anyone in Latin America will support them. To the best of my knowledge, they are counting on one or two countries. I have no doubts, and I know that the Latin Americans have a great feeling of personal dignity. This would pose a challenge to all of them, all the more so as a righteous rejection of such a dictate has been accumulating for several months already, especially when the Americans de-mothballed the Monroe Doctrine and said it was quite appropriate to use this doctrine in the current situation.

On April 17, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the United States was bringing its own version of freedom to the region. And what version of freedom does the region prefer? Would you like to ask them how they perceive their own freedom?

I hope very much that a line which stipulates talks and which is conducted by Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community will prevail. President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is ready for such talks, and he has repeatedly confirmed this in public. Juan Guaido emphatically and ostentatiously refuses, comprehending Washington’s support and counting on this support alone. It appears that he has copied the bad example of President of Ukraine Petr Poroshenko who also behaved in the same way with regard to the need for conducting a national dialogue that would involve all political forces, and he hoped that Washington would shield him whatever the situation.

Olga Belova: Washington says it is bringing freedom to the region. But what is it that we are bringing to the region?

Sergey Lavrov: We want international law to be respected in the region as well as in the world at large. This means that states build their relations via dialogue and a balance of interests takes shape. This also means that we listen to each other and want to negotiate mutually beneficial security, economic and humanitarian projects as well as projects in any other spheres, where countries and peoples operate. Our relations with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) rest precisely on this basis. We are finalising talks with the South American Common Market (MERCOSUR). There is an agreement with the Central American Integration System (CAIS) and a number of other sub-regional organisations.

We have even-handed and good relations with practically all the Latin American countries. We don’t force anyone to do things we would like to get as unilateral advantages. The entire US policy towards Russia comes down to the US ambassador in any country visiting, with envious regularity, government agencies and demanding that they don’t receive Russian delegations, nor send delegations to Russia, nor trade with Russia, nor buy anything from Russia, particularly military products, and the like.

You can’t conceal information in today’s world. We learn this the moment these “visits” occur, the more so that the Americans are not particularly hiding the fact. They publicly say: Don’t communicate with Russia. It is Russia along with Iran and Cuba that are to blame for what is going on in Venezuela. They demand that not a single Russian soldier be found in Venezuela because the US wants it this way: no one located outside of the Western Hemisphere has the right to be there at all. Our explanation that the Russian military are performing contractual obligations servicing military equipment that was supplied on fully legitimate terms way back in the 2000s are simply disregarded. The fact that the US military and other NATO personnel – Britons and Canadians – have filled Ukraine is not mentioned. It looks like they proceed from logic suggested by the saying “What is allowed to Jupiter, is not allowed to the bull.” This is rotten logic, very much so, and it will not help our US colleagues. I am quite hopeful that they will come to understand this. Yes, within some historically very brief period preceding the next electoral cycles in the US, they are likely to reap certain benefits because they are brazenly putting pressure on countries that are unable to resist them. But in the long term, increasingly more countries will proceed from the assumption that America is just an unreliable and impolite partner that is abusing its influence in the world. The UN Charter insists on sovereign equality of states. We build our relations precisely in this way.

I cannot refrain from mentioning the fact that the United States has recently added a frontal attack on Orthodox Christianity to the arsenal of its policy towards Russia. Given that the Russian Orthodox Church was a world Orthodoxy leader, the crazy gamble involving the conferral of autocephality on the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, known today as the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a gamble undertaken by the Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew, has been – we have enough facts to claim this – inspired and supported by Washington. Today Washington is engaged in tough diplomatic action as it works with other Orthodox Churches that have refused to support the Istanbul Patriarch’s self-willed decision. Its aim is to somehow make them recognise what has happened. This unceremonious and gross interference in church affairs is at odds with all diplomatic norms and international law in general. And this is deplorable.

We would like the United States to be a decent member of the world community. We are open to dialogue but their approach to relations is highly utilitarian and selfish.

They suggest that we and the Chinese cooperate with them when it comes to Afghanistan and North Korea because they are unable to operate successfully on their own there. And we accept this because a settlement in Afghanistan, on the Korean Peninsula and in Syria, on which we can communicate usefully, is also in our interests. We don’t dig in our heels and say that we will not negotiate on these issues if they don’t want to discuss other ones. Our position is more pragmatic. Russia is ready to work with all influential parties who see eye to eye with us and can help to achieve a settlement.

But generally their policy towards Russia is based solely on the wish to make us accept their unilateral domination and renounce international law. This is deplorable and cannot last ad infinitum. The Americans will be unable to sustain this course for long. They are antagonising a huge number of countries. So, it is in their best interests to come back to square one and start talking to all countries respectfully. Currently, they are doing this arrogantly, something that cannot help their interests.    

Olga Belova: We do need to talk, but so far talking to these Western partners of ours has been quite challenging. There is a saying: Those who do not want to talk with Sergey Lavrov will have to deal with Sergey Shoigu. This echoes what you have been saying. In your opinion, who is the main guardian of peace now, the military or the diplomats? What enables Russia to maintain parity: state-of-the-art armaments or the power of words? Who has priority at present?

Sergey Lavrov: When the Soviet Union was being dissolved, pro-democracy forces both here in Russia and in the West were ecstatic. There was a theory whereby the factor of strength in international relations was no longer relevant now that the bipolar world order was no more, the Cold War became a thing of the past, ideological differences faded away and we all came together on a strong democratic footing. This euphoric state persisted for several years. The situation was far from rosy of course, but as you may remember, in the 1990s Russia was young and proactive in its commitment to working with the US and NATO, all but deciding to join the alliance. However, disillusionment came very quickly. It dawned on everyone that behind the veil of these beautiful words the West meant only one thing: Russia was to give up on using the factor of strength in its policy, while the West would continue relying on it. Why was NATO still around after the Warsaw Pact was dissolved? How come we did not come together within the OSCE to transform it into a pan-European, Euro-Atlantic organisation without any western or eastern variants in order to address all questions without exception based on consensus? It did not happen. Of course, the plan they nurtured was to use Russia’s weakness in the first years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in order to achieve an overwhelming military and strategic advantage.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin has talked about this on numerous occasions. It became clear to us that our positive attitude towards the West was not reciprocal. The West continued to push NATO further east in violation of all possible promises, moving its military infrastructure to our borders, and there was no end in sight, especially when the US withdrew from the ABM Treaty. At this point, everything was clear. Decisions were taken, paving the way to the development of the weapons the President presented during his address last year to the Federal Assembly. Of course, it is highly regrettable that in today’s world no one will talk to you, unless you have a strong army and cutting-edge weapons.

Olga Belova: Has it become easier to talk?

Sergey Lavrov: When I was appointed to this post, the situation was already beginning to change. However, I would not say that talking was a challenge before, and that now things are easier. Unfortunately, the US, as our main partner, labelled Russia its “high-priority adversary,” as you have said. Later the US backtracked, and propelled China to this position. Later Russia was again on the list, and after that we were accompanied by China and Iran. They want to set their policy straight. They want to be in total control, but have yet to understand how this can be done. Sanctions work in some cases, but definitely not with Russia. They will not work with other countries that respect their history and identity.

We have no problems talking with the Europeans when it comes to relations with each specific country. There are challenges in our dialogue with NATO, since the US decided to convene meetings of the Russia-NATO Council with the sole purpose of lecturing us on Ukraine and other matters or criticising us for allegedly violating and dismantling the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We do not intend to attend any meetings of this kind in the future. If they want to have a serious conversation, they have to convene a Russia-NATO Council meeting at the military level. The outgoing Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations, General Curtis Scaparrotti, recently voiced regret over the lack of military-to-military interaction with Russia that existed even during the Cold War. Better late than never. Let us hope that his successor in this position is receptive to this advice. This is what we hope for.

We have a very good dialogue with each country of the European Union. Yes, we sometimes happen to disagree. We have problems with the Baltic countries, with Poland, but we are ready to talk about them. Especially because the Baltic states are our neighbours, and we have good trade and investment cooperation in business. There are also security issues, because NATO is pushing its units into Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. It is too close to our borders. At the same time, NATO is moving away from implementing the understandings we reached following the initiative of President of Finland Sauli Niinisto concerning flight safety over the Baltic. We responded to it; our military proposed ideas that would help allay concerns. It is possible to talk with everyone. On a bilateral basis, even the Baltic countries show interest: President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid has visited Moscow. We are talking in a neighbourly way about what we can do so that people can live comfortably and there would be no security concerns. But the collective platforms – NATO and the EU – are dominated by mutual responsibility: the Russophobic minority in the EU imposed sanctions on Russia, punishing us for supporting the will of the people of Crimea. This position of the European Union is now extended every six months, and no one can do anything, although individually, they assure us that the majority already understands that this is a dead end and something needs to be done. We are patient people, but as long as the EU as an organisation is not ready to restore all the mechanisms of our strategic partnership – we used to have summits twice a year, a ministerial council that oversaw more than 20 sectoral dialogues, four common spaces … All that was frozen because someone decided to try to “punish” us. Funny, honestly.

We are always open to honest, equal and respectful dialogue both through the military and through diplomatic channels. We have a very good tradition with a number of countries, in particular, with Italy and Japan, the 2 + 2 format, when Sergey Shoigu and I meet with our colleagues, the four of us. This is a very interesting format. It enables us to consider security issues through the prism of diplomacy and vice versa – purely military issues in foreign policy. We had such formats with the Americans and the British – but they froze them on their own initiative. But with the Italians and the Japanese, we continue these processes.

Olga Belova: I seem to understand why they froze them. Because when you two come to the negotiations, it’s simply impossible to resist you in such a duo.

Sergey Lavrov: Oh, don’t say that. We are modest people. Modest and polite.

Olga Belova: You’re modest and polite – but are you ready to give everyone a second chance, as with Ukraine?

Sergey Lavrov: Some do not need to be given a chance – they already rely on their national interests, not on what some foreign brother tells them. But if someone digs in their heels and expects an apology from us – well, we have nothing to apologise for. Our actions are guided by international law, and the UN Charter. We respect the right of any nation to determine its own future. This also applies to the rights of national minorities, in Crimea or anywhere else. We are always ready for dialogue.

Venezuela Facing Western Hypocrisy

By Hussein Samawarchi

A few months after the brutal torture and execution of Imam Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr, Saddam Hussein gave the order to attack Iran. Imam Al-Sadr represented a peaceful opposition wave against dictatorship. The popular cleric used literature as a way of mending what was wrong. For that, he was made to watch his own sister being tortured and killed while, according to witnesses, the political prisoner was beaten with metal cables until his body was covered with cuts everywhere. Then, the torturers dragged him through acid before hammering an iron nail into his head.

When Saddam invaded Iran, the western world rallied behind him. The butcher of opposition leaders received support from diplomats who published books about ethical politics as their countries shipped to him one load after another of weapons. No one who lived through that era could forget Iraq’s Exocet missiles.

If Saddam is old news now, if something more contemporary exposing western hypocrisy is favored, the event that took place in Turkey last October might do.

A team of sloppy assassins was dispatched to Istanbul. They waited for a public figure in his country’s consulate to which he was sent by none other than the brother of the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Jamal Khashoggi might have been a controversial personality due to his historical affiliations with fanatic movements, links with Taliban, and statements that don’t abide by journalistic objectivity norms. But he spoke through western media and therefore deserved western protection. The man was cut to pieces after being subdued and drugged. It is still not clear if the drug used rendered him unconscious during the horrific act or just paralyzed him so he could witness and feel his arms and legs being sawn-off.

The world heard a lot of condemnations and denouncements. Still, at the end of the day, not one ambassador took part in a public display of support to a journalist who was merely hinting to the need for reform in his country.

Juan Guaidó returned to Venezuela after 10 days of prancing around with his people’s enemies. He violated the constitution by declaring himself president, broke the law by traveling, instigated popular violence, cooperated with hostile foreign powers, and initiated a contraband operation on a large scale from Colombia. The renegade politician was neither dragged in acid nor dismembered. He was allowed to enter Venezuela with strict orders from President Maduro that no one would obstruct his way.

The sight of the all those foreign ambassadors welcoming the man that Mike Pence views as an American investment gives a sufficient idea of who are the stakeholders in the future distribution of Venezuelan petroleum shares should the coup being staged by Trump’s gang succeed. It’s an indication for the minority of Venezuelan people who think riches will pour in if the country is handed over to American puppets. Do they not realize that every entity which recognized Guaidó as interim president will become their partner in their national wealth?

This is the level of degradation that the western political scene has reached. Ambassadors did not react when public figures were mutilated to death but ran to the airport to welcome a man who says “A la orden jefe” to John Bolton.

There is nothing wrong in forming an opposition; actually, it’s a basic requirement for a sound democratic political system. The opposing politicians’ main duty is to act as performance auditors and highlight the ruling party’s shortcomings which, inevitably, leads to the improvement of the country and the standard of living. What they don’t do is collude with foreign powers to surrender the country’s wealth. What they don’t do is act as internal agents in a hunger campaign against their own people. And what they definitely don’t do is sell their integrity knowing that they are public servants and that integrity represents their constituency.

The topic of Venezuela is not a discussion of a mere Latin American country. Rather, a modern-day political epidemic suffered by many states. It has to do with the injection of malicious agents into a national body while this body is battered with sanctions preventing it from acquiring the necessary antibiotics and nutrition. Syria recovered, Yemen is recovering, and Venezuela is following suit. Patriotism is the remedy and it is abundant in this proud Bolivarian state.

US Think Tank Holds Secretive Meeting on Military Option in Venezuela

By Staff, Agencies

The military option has been discussed at a secret off-the-record meeting organized by Washington-based think tank earlier last week.

A military intervention in Venezuela hs been reportedly discussed at a private roundtable hosted on 10 April by the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), The Gray Zone reported Sunday.

Straightforwardly named “Assessing the Use of Military Force in Venezuela,” the off-the-record meeting involved some 40 figures, including former State Department, National Intelligence Council, and National Security Council officials, as well as Admiral Kurt Tidd who recently left the post of the US SOUTHCOM commander.

Several senior officials from Colombian and Brazilian embassies as well as representatives of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido also participated in the meeting.

The fact that the meeting took place has been confirmed by two unnamed participants, but no other details are available, The Gray Zone reports.

However, the very existence of a meeting named like this suggests Trump administration considers military operation more seriously than before, the report says, adding that such move could have been fueled by frustration that “every other weapon in its arsenal has failed” to oust Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

The website managed to confirm the existence of the meeting after a check-in list containing names of those invited has been leaked. When The Gray Zone contacted one of the attendees, Sarah Baumunk, a research associate at the CSIS’s Americas Program, she confirmed military options were discussed.

“We talked about military… uh… military options in Venezuela. That was earlier this week though,” she said, referring to the meeting being wrongly dated 20 April in the document. However, when pressed for more details, she refused to talk.

“I’m sorry I don’t feel comfortable answering these questions,” she said.

Another attendee, Santiago Herdoiza, a research associate at Hills&Company strategy and trade consulting agency, also slipped out that the meeting took place.

“I’m sorry, that was a closed meeting. Good evening,” Herdoiza said when contacted by phone.

A military intervention option has repeatedly been hinted at by US officials, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming earlier this week that “every single tool, every single option remains on table,” despite the Lima Group of Latin American countries rejected such a scenario. The United States also lacks support from the United Nations Security Council.

The US has provided support to opposition leader Juan Guaido, recognizing him as Venezuela’s interim president, while Russia, China, Turkey and a number of other nations consider Maduro as the legitimate leader. Despite Guaido’s efforts to oust legitimate president Nicolas Maduro, he remains in power, controlling the armed forces and the nation’s oil industry. Speaking to Chilean Mega TV, Mike Pompeo admitted that Russian and Chinese support for Maduro makes the president’s leave more difficult, blaming Russia of “intervening without authority,” despite Russia never exceeded terms of earlier military cooperation agreements signed with late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.

VENEZUELAN EX-SPY CHIEF THAT SUPPORTS GUAIDO DETAINED OVER SUPPOSED LINKS TO COCAINE TRAFFICKING

South Front

13.04.2019

Venezuelan Ex-Spy Chief That Supports Guaido Detained Over Supposed Links To Cocaine Trafficking

Click to see full-size image

On April 12thVenezuelan ex-spy chief Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Madrid by Spanish police on a US warrant for allegedly trafficking tons of cocaine.

He is also accused of having connections to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the US.

Maibort Petit@maibortpetit

Hugo Carvajal fue arrestado en Madrid en la mañana de este viernes ..Carvajal tiene dos expedientes por delitos de narcotráfico y vinculaciones con el.grupo terrorista de la . Contrató abogados en para aclarar su situación, no llegó acuerdos de cooperación,

“Hugo Carvajal was arrested in Madrid on the morning of this Friday #12abril.. Carvajal has two cases for drug offenses and ties with the terrorist group. #Farc He hired US lawyers to clarify his situation, there was no cooperation agreement.”

A spokeswoman with Spain’s National Court, which handles extradition cases, said that Carvajal would testify on April 13th before Judge Alejandro Abascal in Madrid.

Carvajal was an adviser to Venezuelan Leader Hugo Chavez and headed the security services. On March 21sthe became one of the more influential military figures to recognize US-Proclaimed President Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan leader.

He also called on Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino to topple maduro with the Armed Forces.

Hugo Carvajal@hugocarvajal4f

Padrino debería ponerse par de b… y detener a Maduro. Fue quién ordenó la instalación de este sistema de torturas en la dgcim y el ingreso de los malditos cubanos a sus instalaciones. Ahí no se hace nada que Nicolás no apruebe.

Rocío San Miguel

@rociosanmiguel

Ministro @vladimirPadrino, su subalterno el M/G (Ej)Iván Hernández Dala, Director General de Contrainteligencia Militar en Venezuela, debe ser detenido, después de las evidencias del sistema de torturas que ha instalado en la dgcim, presentadas por el Tte Ronald Dugarte en la OEA

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“The majority of the Armed Forces want to return the freedom to Venezuela, but they are kidnapped by this system of torture and terror, and when I said that the control is more iron than they imagine, it was serious, believe me, if we do not finish with the Cubans, the FAN will not be able to fulfill its duties,” he warned on his Twitter account.

Despite his opposition to the Maduro government, his arrested was condemned by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

He described the detention of the former intelligence director as an “ambush” and, in addition to ruling out that he has or has had any relationship with drug trafficking, reiterated that he is a “diplomat in functions of the Venezuelan State.”

The Venezuelan Supreme Court also claimed that Carvajal should be released, since he had immunity “because he is an active Venezuelan diplomatic official.”

Separately, at the opening of the joint World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) spring meetings, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that it is up the fund’s members “to indicate which authority they are recognising diplomatically.”

On the side of the World Bank, newly-appointed WB Group President David Malpass said that the organization is preparing to become “deeply involved” in Venezuela, “but the situation is still troublesome on the ground.”

Malpass said that Venezuela is a “deep concern” for the World Bank, but that any decision to intervene in the country or recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s president would be left to the World Bank’s stakeholders.

The US, on its part is attempting to increase pressure on Venezuela.

On April 12ththe US Treasury announced sanctions on companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba.

Treasury Department

@USTreasury

Treasury increases pressure on Cuba to end support to Maduro by imposing further oil sector sanctions: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm653 

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“We continue to target companies that transport Venezuelan oil to Cuba, as they are profiting while the Maduro regime pillages natural resources.  Venezuela’s oil belongs to the Venezuelan people, and should not be used as a bargaining tool to prop up dictators and prolong oppression,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “Maduro relies on the support he receives from the Cuban military and intelligence services to retain his hold on power because he does not have the support of the Venezuelan people.”

On his Latin America tour, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, while visiting Chile accused China of prolonging Venezuela’s crisis by financing Nicolas Maduro.

Pompeo said China is a major US trading partner, but that its “trade activities often are deeply connected to their national security mission, their technological goals, their desire to steal intellectual property, to have forced technology transfer, to engage in activity that is not economic.”

On April 10thUS Vice President Mike Pence once more said that the US would continue to “exert all diplomatic and economic pressure to bring about a peaceful transition to democracy in Venezuela.  But all options are on the table.

Pence also said that the US would push the UN to recognize Juan Guaido as the legitimate Venezuelan leader and revoke the credentials of the Venezuelan government.

“Up to this point, while other international bodies have acted, the United Nations and this Security Council have refused to act.  But now that nations across this hemisphere have spoken, the time has come for the United Nations to recognize Interim President Juan Guaidó as the legitimate President of Venezuela and seat his representative in this body.

This body should revoke the credentials of Venezuela’s representative to the United Nations, recognize Interim President Juan Guaidó, and seat the representative of the free Venezuelan government in this body without delay.”

In response, Venezuelan Ambassador to the UN Samuel Moncada accused the US and UK of benefiting from the physical and financial assets which the Bolivarian people held abroad and were illegally confiscated.

“Our refineries’ profits are being used to pay debts to Trump administration-friendly oil companies. His friends, who hold Venezuelan debt bonds, receive special licenses to collect profits from our people’s stolen money,” Moncada said, while also commenting on an alleged plan to indebt Venezuela for $70 billion.

“One aspect of this mass destruction policy is looting and robbery of tens of billions, literally a robbery,” he said and warned that companies profiting from U.S. policies are using the stolen resources in dark financial transactions. “It is a plan where banks, insurance and ships are used… [as] weapons of mass destruction, although those who are responsible are not being brought to justice or suffering moral sanctions they deserve,” Ambassador Moncada said

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Saving Venezuela

Darko Lazar

The Russians and the Americans chose a luxury hotel room in Rome for their discrete diplomatic exchange on Venezuela’s political crisis.

The March 19 meeting between US Special Envoy for Venezuela Elliott Abrams and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov came on the heels of a series of events that set off alarm bells in the Kremlin.

In late February, the US attempted to use humanitarian aid shipments to instigate a confrontation between Venezuelan security forces and opposition factions.

Almost simultaneously, American-backed, self-proclaimed President Juan Guaido called for a foreign intervention while the party line in Washington remained unchanged – all options were still on the table.

Finally, Venezuela was struck by the first of two massive blackouts, which many suspect are the result of US cyber attacks.

Although the details of the tete-a-tete between Abrams and Ryabkov remain a secret, the latter did reveal that he articulated Moscow’s ‘red lines’ during the Rome meeting.

Ryabkov said that the American side was warned “against any temptation to resort to military power” in Venezuela.

“We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously,” he added.

But the talks in Rome had clearly failed to compel Washington to change course, or as Abrams so eloquently put it, the two sides “did not come to a meeting of the minds”.

And so, just a few days later, Moscow offered proof that Ryabkov’s warnings were more than just a mere boasting exercise.

From Moscow to Caracas via Syria

On March 23, two Russian air force planes, carrying nearly a hundred troops and 35 tons of equipment, touched down in Venezuela’s capital Caracas.

Just like the details of the Ryabkov-Abrams meeting, the exact contents of the Russian shipment to Venezuela remain unknown to the public.

But the snippets of information released are meant to highlight the Kremlin’s readiness to confront the US-backed regime change operation against President Nicolas Maduro.

For starters, the man leading the Russian contingent in the Latin American state is the First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces, Colonel General Vasily Tonkoshkurov.

Interestingly, Tonkoshkurov and his team passed through Syria on route to Venezuela.

The passenger aircraft landed in Damascus, while the heavy transport plane, which was carrying the equipment, flew via the Russian military’s Khmeimim air base outpost.

A few hours later, the men getting off the planes on the tarmac in Caracas were photographed wearing desert camouflage uniforms, similar to those worn by Russian personnel in Syria.

Although Moscow claims the deployment is the result of existing “contracts on military and technical cooperation”, it is doubtful that the Russians traveled to the Bolivarian Republic just to school the Venezuelans on how to use armaments that have been in their possession for years.

Instead, Russia insiders maintain that the men dispatched to Venezuela have spent years fighting back American attacks in Syria, which includes the shooting down of Tomahawk missiles.

Their expertise is a key component in readying Venezuela for any potential American military adventure.

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that the tons of cargo did not include weapons, but advanced technological equipment for data gathering and electronic warfare.

These are not only useful in direct military confrontations, but also in counterinsurgency warfare and in subverting so-called activism by the opposition.

Talking priorities

The arrival of the Russians in Venezuela may already be putting the wind in Maduro’s sails.

The Venezuelan leader, who exercised a great deal of restraint over the years when dealing with destabilizing forces in his country, now appears to be positioning himself to move against Guaido.

Earlier this week, Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly backed the nation’s Supreme Court request to strip Guaido of his immunity.

The decision paves the way for possible legal proceedings against the 35-year-old over charges of inciting violence and engaging in illicit financial activity.

Naturally the news prompted a fresh round of threats from Washington, where officials promised that the “US will not stand idly by”.

Similar warnings followed the Russian deployment, too.

The US national security adviser, John Bolton, said that foreign military assets in Venezuela would be treated “as a direct threat to international peace and security in the region.”

But beneath all the chest beating lies the realization that Washington’s options in Venezuela have become extremely limited.

The acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan has even openly hinted that the US is not considering military action as a way to resolve the Venezuelan crisis.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump – who initially told the Russians to “get out” – explained last Friday that his strategy involves “talking about a lot to a lot of people, perhaps President Putin.”

Whatever “priorities” Abrams ignored in Rome last month, he is sure to be listening now.

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