CARACAS: Desperately needed aid being stockpiled at Venezuela’s door is at the heart of a political duel between the two men fighting to lead the oil-rich nation: Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro.
Guaido, recognized as Venezuela’s interim president by around 50 countries, has pressed the all-critical military to allow the mostly American humanitarian aid to reach the most vulnerable population, or around 300,000 people.
Maduro insists the shortages plaguing the country are caused by Washington’s punitive sections, and he has vowed to stop the “spectacle of fake humanitarian aid.”
The aid “is at the heart of the struggle between two pillars of power,” political scientist Luis Salamanca told the Media.
“This struggle is playing out as concerns the future of the armed forces. Guaido is trying to get the military on his side, while Maduro tries to keep it behind him.”
Using a tanker truck, two container trucks and barriers, the army has been blocking the Tienditas border bridge since Thursday.
Several hundred meters (yards) from there on the Colombia side are the hangars where the emergency aid is being stockpiled.
For John Magdaleno of the Polity consultancy, the confrontation between the two men is a “major event” that “is inevitably leading toward an escalation” between the government and the opposition, as well as between Maduro and the countries supporting his adversary.
“In the end, it’s in the hand of the United States. They are the ones who can use force,” Magdaleno said.
President Donald Trump’s administration, which has insisted that “all options are on the table” — has frozen the accounts of Venezuelan leaders and unveiled fresh sanctions to bar Maduro from accessing revenues from oil his country sells in the US.
Before possibly resorting to force, Washington is exploring “all other options” first, Magdeleno said, adding that “this chapter on humanitarian aid foreshadows a far more significant escalation that could trigger a military intervention.”
However, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Kimberly Breier has insisted that the US has no intention of entering Venezuelan territory by force to distribute food and medicine.
The United Nations said it’s ready to send emergency aid to Venezuela, but only if Caracas agrees.
“Humanitarian aid should never be used as a political pawn,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.
Venezuela has faced a major political and economic crisis in recent years. Expropriations have hurt industry and oil production, which finances 96 percent of the national budget, thus reducing imports of basic goods.
More than 80 percent of medicine and medical equipment are missing in a country that has the world’s largest proven oil reserves, according to the pharmaceutical federation. There are constant cuts of basic services such as water and electricity.
Maduro accuses the United States of setting up an “international coalition… to intervene militarily in Venezuela under the pretext of a non-existing humanitarian crisis.”
For the National Assembly’s former president and opposition lawmaker Henry Ramos Allup, the government’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid to enter the country “reveals once more to the world the regime’s human rights violations.”
The anti-Maduro camp has also denounced the regime’s decision — while Venezuela grapples with such a dire situation — to send 100 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Cuba to assist the communist island in the wake of a recent hurricane.
The government faces a “strategic dilemma” because “regardless of its decision, it loses,” Magdaleno said.
If Maduro relents and allows the aid in, this means he finally acknowledges that there is, in fact a humanitarian crisis.
“Maduro is going to put his foot down. It doesn’t matter much anymore to him. He is playing a game that seems to be entering its last phase,” which threatens his hold on power, said Salamanca.
US elections: No proof of Russian meddling
MOSCOW: Russia on Friday once more dismissed the Mueller report, saying that it failed to present evidence of any meddling by Moscow in the 2016 US election.
“As a whole, the report as before does not present any reasonable proof at all that Russia allegedly meddled in the electoral process in the US,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists, saying it contained “no new information”.
Countering Indian hybrid warfare techniques
KARACHI: Security analysts Friday warned people to be wary of the content on social media, as the Indian hybrid war against Pakistan was trying to cause discontent and confusion among the masses.
Addressing a seminar “Post Pulwama-Threat of Hybrid Warfare and What Next,” organized by Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR) speakers including former Ambassador Najmuddin A. Shaikh, former Foreign Secretary, Dr. Asif Mahmood, Dr. Huma Baqai, Associate Dean at IBA and senior defence analyst Ikram Sehgal were unanimous in their opinion that India has been seen piling up and imposing instruments of hybrid warfare on Pakistan. The situation demanded that the nation must be cautious in expressing their views on social media that may not only counter the national cause but also lead to manipulation of a national perspective.
Mentioning that hybrid warfare is a blend of conventional and irregular warfighting techniques that may also employ other non-kinetic means to undermine an enemy’s strength, speakers said Pulwama incident was a manifestation of their very technique. Modi Government was said to have taken advantage of it by blaming Pakistan for the terrorist act hence not only attempting to gain world sympathy but also affecting issues involving the two neighbors and taking up the issue at international level.
Hybrid Warfare, the elaborated was more catastrophic in essence as it pervades into multifaceted frontiers of the enemy’s territory; psychologically undermining its decision-making capabilities. I also have ability to systematically crippling its financial and information networks using cyber technology, economic strangulation via coercive economic diplomacy and leveraging its influence over international actors and institutions meanwhile, developing and maintaining a robust defense posture.
It was emphasized that Pakistan needed to get around the world and show the Indian intelligence agency’s vile face and its role in getting innocent human beings, getting killed in and outside India. Mumbai carnage, attack on Indian Parliament, attack on Pathankot Brigade Headquarters were cited to have been already proven as False Flag Operations conducted by RAW and other covert agencies of India to promote and protect their interests.
The speakers were firm in their suggestion that Pakistan must continue its support, morally and politically so that Kashmiris were essentially allowed to exercise their right to a plebiscite as narrated in UNSC Resolutions. On the occasion 12 of the UN Security Council resolutions starting in April 1948 were extensively discussed explaining as how much important it was to get Kashmir issue resolved in a democratic manner through a free and impartial plebiscite.
Comedian Zelensky to be new Ukrainian President!
KIEV: Volodymyr Zelensky, a 41-year-old politically inexperienced comedian who is on track to become Ukraine’s next president, stirs strong feelings.
Supporters say he is the fresh face the country needs to clean up Ukrainian politics after a 2014 uprising ousted a Kremlin-backed regime. Critics fear that a Zelensky presidency could throw the country into turmoil. Here are four key questions about Zelensky’s extraordinary rise to political prominence: Zelensky – whose schoolteacher character in “Servant of the People” becomes president after an expletive-laden tirade goes viral – channels the protest votes.
The TV star has capitalized on Ukrainians’ despair over mainstream politics, war with Kremlin-backed rebels, poverty, and corruption. “Essentially people are voting against (President Petro) Poroshenko and not for Zelensky,” said Oleksandr Paskhaver, a Ukrainian economist and former adviser to the president.
Poroshenko’s backers credit him with rebuilding the nation’s army, securing an Orthodox Church independent of Russia and winning visa-free travel to Europe. But critics say the 53-year-old has done too little to tackle graft, improve living standards or uphold the rule of law. Anti-corruption campaigners and other activists regularly suffer attacks.
Kateryna Gandzyuk, a 33-year-old anti-corruption activist, died last November, a few months after she had about a liter of acid poured on her by several attackers.