World View: Brazil Urges Quick Venezuelan Election if Chávez Dies

World View: Brazil Urges Quick Venezuelan Election if Chávez Dies

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Brazil urges quick Venezuelan election of Chávez dies
  • Al-Qaeda rebels in Mali counterattack as France bombs
  • Germany and Britain debate whether to join France in Mali
  • Germany threatens to block a bailout of Cyprus, reviving euro crisis

Brazil urges quick Venezuelan election if Chávez dies

Brazil is making a major intervention in Venezuela’s government byurging the country to hold elections as quickly as possible ifpresident Hugo Chávez dies: “We are explicitly saying that if Chávez dies, wewould like to see elections as soon as possible. We think that’sthe best way to ensure a peaceful democratic transition, which isBrazil’s main desire.”

Chávez has been in Cuba since his fourth cancer surgery on December11. After previous surgeries, Chávez was shown sitting up or chattingwith Fidel Castro. This time, there has been no public sign of Chávezsince the operation, leading to speculation that he’s close to death. 

Brazil is keeping the United States apprised of its efforts, and ishoping to convince Washington to allow it to take the lead in managinga potential leadership transition in Venezuela. Brazilian officialssaid they fear that any direct U.S. intervention in Venezuelan affairscould backfire. However, a quick election would contradict Chávez’sown stated wishes that, on his death, vice-president Nicolas Madurobecome president. The Venezuelan opposition fears that Chávez’s partywill violate the constitution to stay in power if Chávez dies.Reuters

Photo: Chávez Candanga

Al-Qaeda rebels in Mali counterattack as France bombs

On Saturday, France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said, “Stoppingthe terrorists — it’s done.” On Sunday, France announced that themilitary operation would be finished in a matter of weeks. On Monday,Islamist militants counter-attacked and gained control of the town ofDiabaly from government forces, just 220 miles from Bamako, Mali’scapital. The militants are part of a terrorist group linked toAl-Qaeda on the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). 

According to an AQIMspokesman: “France has opened the gates of hell for all theFrench. She has fallen into a trap which is much more dangerousthan Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia.”

AQIM is flush with resources. They made millions of dollarsin the last few years collecting ransom payments for kidnappedhostages. And they collected a huge bonanza of sophisticatedweapons from unprotected warehouses following the collapseof the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya. 

France is continuing its bombing mission, and plans to deploy 2,500troops, to work with a force of 3,300 West African troops to defeatwell-armed militants in an area the size of Spain. This is already anincrease over the initial announcement, because resistance has beentougher than expected. Many analysts believe that the estimate of “afew weeks” is too optimistic. Reuters

Germany and Britain debate whether to join France in Mali

Germany’s government does not want to deploy German combattroops in Mali, but they’re considering offering logistical,medical and humanitarian support. Germany was embarrassedin 2011 because they never supported France in the militaryoperation in Libya, and they do not want to face that kindof criticism again. However, caution is advised fortwo reasons: 

  • Once a nation offers logistical help, it could quickly be asked to get more involved, and Germany might be drawn into very lengthy conflict.
  • By assisting France, Germany would in effect be taking part in an attack against radical Islamists with close ties to al-Qaeda who are already threatening revenge attacks against Paris.

Defense chiefs in Britain are warning prime minister David Cameronagainst becoming enmeshed in the Mali mission, pointing out that anyaction could be drawn-out and require significantly greater resourcesthan have so far been deployed.Spiegel and Independent (London)

Germany threatens to block a bailout of Cyprus, reviving euro crisis

Cyprus needs $22.7 billion to bail out its banking system, andGermany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel is demanding harsh reforms beforeit can be approved. The problem is that Cyprus’s banks have beenaccused as vehicles for laundering billions of dollars by Russianoligarchs who don’t want to pay Russia’s taxes. Thus, bailing outCyprus’s banks would be bailing out Russia’s oligarchs. Many MPs inGermany’s Bundestag are refusing to consider a bailout. Without abailout, the euro crisis will return in full force. Guardian (London) and Spiegel

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