While hosting Syria’s President-for-life Bashar al-Assad on June 25-26, Venezuela authoritarian populist and aspiring president-for-life Hugo Chavez was quick to promise ever-closer ties with Syria. Assad’s Syria is the longest running country on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list.
Chavez described the Syrian leader’s visit as part of a “strategic project of cooperation to build the Caracas-Damascus axis” linking two socialist countries. Chavez made clear that he shares common enemies with Syria: “We have common enemies: “the Yankee [U.S] empire” and “the genocidal state of Israel.” Chavez continued:
Arab civilization and our civilization, the Latin American one, are being summoned in this new century to play the fundamental role of liberating the world, saving the world from the imperialism and capitalist hegemon that threaten the human species. Syria and Venezuela are at the vanguard of this struggle.
Chavez showered Assad with praise and launched into his customary anti-Israel, anti-Zionist tirade.
Someday the genocidal state of Israel will be put in its place, in the proper place and hopefully a real democratic state will be born. But it has become the murderous arm of the Yankee empire — who can doubt it? — which threatens all of us.
Assad returned the favor, hailing Chavez as an “Arab leader.”
Assad’s Caracas visit once more reflects Chavez’s desire to deepen Venezuela’s radicalization as a global center for virulent anti-Americanism and to promote ideological convergence with the distorted and dangerous ambitions of Middle Eastern tyrants, state sponsors of terror, and powerful terror organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas.
When foreign leaders place the U.S. on their enemies list and call for its defeat along with the defeat of its oldest allies, Washington ought to pay attention. It should respond with an appropriate and forceful response, not with silence and hand wringing. The Obama Administration should move swiftly to place Venezuela where it belongs and where Chavez genuinely wants his country to be: on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.