Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro will attend an emergency meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Turkey Wednesday on the Muslim world’s response to President Donald Trump’s declaration that the U.S. would acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Maduro was invited by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who called the meeting, to attend as a special observer. Maduro’s socialist government was among the loudest in Latin America protesting Trump’s declaration, in which he also announced Washington would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Maduro announced his travel Monday night and departed Venezuela en route to Istanbul on Tuesday. Venezuelan state television described the OIC meeting as having “confronting American threats against the State of Palestine” on its agenda.
In remarks on television Monday, Maduro reiterated that Trump’s announcement recognizing that Israel’s center of government is in Jerusalem is “illegal, absolutely illegal, irrational, even. A true provocation, a declaration of war against the Arab people, the Muslim people, and the good people of the world.”
Maduro was invited, he explained, due to his status as the president of the Non-Aligned Movement, a coalition of nations who claim to be unaffiliated with any of the major world powers that includes nations such as North Korea, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. He described his role at the meeting as “evaluating anything to do with the solidarity with the people of Palestine before the aggression of the imperialist government of Donald Trump and the intent to impose Jerusalem as the capital of Israel onto history.”
Maduro will join the heads of state of “Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Palestine, Guinea, Iran, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Togo, Jordan, and Yemen” in the summit, according to the pro-Erdogan Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak. Maduro will join the head of the Turkish Cypriot community in the summit as an observer rather than participant nation.
Erdogan called the “emergency” meeting following President Trump’s declaration to impose a homogenous, anti-Israel response towards the recognition from the Arab world. “In the face of developments that arouse sensitivity over the status of Jerusalem, Mr. President is calling a leaders’ summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in order to display joint action among Islamic countries,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said last week.
Since calling for the meeting, Erdogan has delivered public remarks in which he has called Israel, among other things, a “terror state” and a “child-killer state.”
“With its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the United States has become a partner in the bloodshed,” Erdogan asserted on Monday.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Erdogan’s tirade by listing numerous human rights abuses committed by his government. “I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from the leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran go around international sanctions, and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people,” he said in a statement. “That is not the man who is going to lecture us.”
Maduro, who regularly insults the U.S. government on his weekly television program In Contact with Maduro, also had his government publish multiple rejections of the new Trump policy on Israel. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza issued an extensive statement in which he rejected the recognition of Israel’s capital and stated that Maduro “expresses his most firm repudiation and condemnation before the arbitrary decision of the U.S. government.”
Erdogan and Maduro have developed increasingly close relations. Pro-Erdogan publications have supported Maduro in his unsubstantiated claims that American officials have planned coups against him. Maduro has also made the time to visit Turkey and expand relations, most recently landing in Ankara in October.