Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro blamed the terror attacks in Paris this week on the “irresponsibility” of the United States in the Middle East, asserting that supporting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is more important now than ever because “if he is taken down, what happened in Paris will be nothing in comparison to what will happen around the world.”
“Only the government of Bashar al-Assad, along with his military, along with his people and his party can guarantee stability in Syria and in the entire region,” Maduro said of his longtime ally. He told the audience on national state television that at least one Venezuelan national had been killed in the Paris attacks on November 13 and another injured. But mostly, Maduro railed against the “hatred unleashed by American imperialism and NATO.”
“We from Venezuela urge the world, those taking decisions, to stop their madness in wanting to destroy Syria, in wanting to substitute the legitimate government of Syria,” he said. “They’ve done enough damage– how many millions of Syrians are seeking refuge elsewhere in the world?” He argued that “every day the people of Libya, Iraq, and Syria experience” violence like that in Paris last week, and claimed the United States government was seeking to invade Venezuela:
They will be remembered as the ones who left the world plagued with terrorism, death, and misery… like George W. Bush is condemned today…. they want to come and destabilize Venezuela now? The war against Venezuela is complete [by the Pentagon]… they want to do to us what they did to Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Irresponsible imperialists! I denounce them in front of the world.
“We love the Muslims,” he added.
Venezuela’s Maduro has maintained long-standing ties to the Syrian dictator, who is widely believed to have used chemical weapons against Syrian civilians. Maduro was one of a very short list of world leaders who congratulated Assad on his victory in the 2014 presidential elections, stating in a letter that the win “reaffirms his leadership of the legitimate Syrian Government.” The U.S. State Department called the elections, in which Assad ran away with 88 percent of the vote, a “sham.” Venezuela was also the lone voice on the UN Security Council in 2013 to vote against extending an investigation into chemical weapons use in Syria. The Venezuelan government issued a statement condemning the investigation as part of a “continued and sustained international media campaign destined to demonize the efforts of the Syrian government, based on manipulating the information about what happens in Syria.”
Assad has returned the favor to Maduro, who has been accused of using the government’s military and secret police to commit human rights violations against peaceful protesters, leading to comparisons to Assad himself. Assad has issued public statements in support of the government’s violent repression of anti-socialist protests in 2014, decrying the protesters as part of an organized “intent to cause chaos, to extend the influence of foreign domination and to exploit our riches” in a 2014 letter. In the same letter, he praised Maduro as drawing “from the world heritage principles and the historical legacy of Latin America’s great leaders.”