In a tweet on 6 January, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stated that had made a telephone call to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who assured him of Turkey’s support for Venezuelan sovereignty. As President Maduro is inaugurated for a second term, does this mark the beginning of a new strategic alliance between the two nations and what would such an alliance mean for Turkey’s relationship with the United States?
A strategic alliance between Turkey and Venezuela appears contradictory, given Turkey’s imperial ambitions and belligerent stance against Syria. But, as I have pointed out before, under Erdogan’s leadership Turkey has emerged as a global imperial power, giving Ankara new possibilities to form independent alliances. Since the souring of relations with the European Union in 2007, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu recalibrated the country’s foreign policy to reflect its desire for increased independence. Davutoglu formulated a “good neighbour “policy towards all the countries contiguous to the former Ottoman hegemon. However, that policy was dramatically reversed in 2011 when Turkey supported NATO’s invasion of Libya by proxy terrorists and the subsequent carpet bombing campaign which destroyed Africa’s richest and most developed country.
Turkey ’s aggression towards Syria from 2011 onwards – where Erdogan repeatedly called for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s overthrow – contrasts markedly with Venezuela’s support and solidarity for the Syrian government. President Maduro, as Venezuelan Foreign Minister, made a declaration in support of Assad, blaming US imperialism for the destabilisation and invasion of the country by terrorists. Assad had visited Venezuela in 2009 where former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez described him as a humane and kind patriot.
Turkey was largely responsible for disrupting the emerging multi-polar anti-imperialist alliance between Latin American countries attempting to break free from US domination. For example, Muammar Gaddafi and Hugo Chavez had discussed the possibility of creating a Joint African/Latin American university focused on the economic development of the two continents and intercontinental trade. Gaddafi also proposed the creation of SATO, the South Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a military alliance for the protection of developing countries from Euro-Atlantic imperialism. All that was blown up in 2011 during the Libyan war which Turkey backed; and with the death of President Chavez in 2012, the future of multi-polar development seemed bleak.
It is largely due to the influence of Moscow that Turkey has decided to abandon its reliance on NATO and pursue a more creative and multi-vectored foreign policy. The rapprochement with Moscow began in 2016 and has been a decisive factor in consolidating the Russian, Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah victory over US, EU, Saudi, Israeli backing for terrorism in the Middle East.
In 1995 Turkish President Suleyman Demirel visited Argentina, Brazil and Chile in an effort to increase Turkish trade and cooperation in the Latin American continent. The visits resulted in the 1998 ‘Plan of Action for Latin America and the Caribbean’. Since then, Turkey has been expanding its influence in Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Cuba. Venezuela opened the first Latin American embassy in Istanbul in 2010 and a trade commission was set up between the two countries.
Common enemy or common friend?
President Maduro has visited Turkey three times since 2015 and was present at President Erdogan’s recent inauguration ceremony. Bilateral trade has increased exponentially rising to $ 35.5 million in 2017, an increase of 103.8 %. Turkey is now exporting food, automotive machinery, construction and chemical supplies as well as badly-needed medical products. Maduro signed agreements in 2017 on cooperation in security, aviation, agriculture and tourism. Currently, bilateral trade is estimated to be around $2 billion. Venezuela has one of the world’s largest reserves of gold. Turkey has now become the main destination for the refinement of Venezuela’s gold reserves. The Venezuelan representative of Turkey’s top lobbying group Musiad Hayri Kucukyavuz recently stated:
“If I had my way, Venezuela and Turkey would wed. Turkey has the businesses and the know-how, Venezuela the mineral and the resources. Turkey and Venezuela have the same enemy, the United States, which attacks everyone.”
In July 2015 the Obama administration backed a protest movement and subsequent coup attempt in Turkey. The protests and coup attempt were orchestrated by Fethullah Gülen, who is based in America and protected by the CIA. President Erdogan also claims international financier George Soros has been heavily involved in funding “opposition” journalists in Turkey.
Soros has not neglected Venezuela either. Much of the recent violence in Venezuela resulted from claims of fraudulence by the voting company Smartmatic. The chairman of the company is Lord Mark Malloch Brown, a close associate of George Soros and member of the Board of Trustees of the International Crisis Group- a globalist think tank.
That said, although both leaders are opposed by globalists, they are also very much controlled by them. Maduro is a supporter of the LGBTQI movement. He has even set up a “gender diversity department.” He also supports the now discredited globalist agenda of anthropogenic climate change. Both of those agendas are heavily financed by Soros and are more important in the long term to finance capitalism than geopolitical rivalries, as they subvert the individual’s ability to think logically. Erdogan is socially conservative but supports the Soros-funded death squads in Syria known as the White Helmets. He claims to oppose Zionism, yet collaborates with it in the destruction of anti-Zionist Syria. In an op-ed for the New York Times, President Erdogan cited Human Rights Watch in support of his accusations against the Kurds. Human Rights Watch is also funded by Soros. But US National Security Advisor John Bolton’s recent comments about protecting the Kurds in Syria have led to a significant deterioration of US/Turkish relations – to the benefit of Caracas.
There are many analysts among libertarians and the so-called alt-right who claim that Venezuela is collapsing due to “socialism.” Those nincompoops have no understanding of political economy. First of all, Venezuela is not nor never has been socialist. It is a left-populist democratic regime. There is still an extremely wealthy bourgeoisie in Venezuela. Had the country undergone a communist revolution, they would be self-sufficient in the production of most goods. There were never any food queues in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania – in spite of extreme international isolation and constant aggression from American, Soviet and Chinese imperialism and their satellites. In Hoxha’s Albania, the entire country was under the control of the working people; it was socialist. Venezuela’s problem is principally not one of ” big government”, although corrupt state bureaucracy is certainly a problem. Venezuela is defending itself against the most powerful imperialist alliance on earth, who are deliberatively sabotaging the economy and blaming the Venezuelan government for the chaos they themselves are causing.
The societal agenda of globalisation is a key factor in assessing the significance of new geopolitical realities. For example, Maduro’s support for bourgeois decadence is one of the reasons driving Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s hostility to what he perceives as “cultural Marxism” in Latin America. Brazil’s right-wing populist had hailed Hugo Chavez’s rise to power in 1998 as a “great hope for Latin America.” But the pervasive influence of Trotskyism in some of the PSUV’s social policies over the years has antagonised right-wing populist reaction. Had Maduro adopted a classical Marxist position on sexuality, and shown more prudence regarding the scientificity of “global warming” theories, he could have maintained good relations with Bolsonaro’s Brazil. He may also have been able to ease pressure from the United States by publically backing Trump on issues where he is being denounced by globalists or, as old Joe Stalin used to call them, “rootless cosmopolitans.”
Maduro is being attacked by globalists such as Soros who is also attacking his enemy Donald Trump. Maduro supports the anarchists and human rights activists financed by Soros who are attacking Trump. Trump claimed to be against “global governance” in his recent UN speech; he defended the sovereignty of nations. Then he proceeded to advocate regime change in Venezuela! Erdogan backs jihadists in Syria with links to Al Qaeda and the CIA, then the CIA back the Kurds, whereupon the Turkish president calls them “State sponsors of terrorism!” Contemporary politics is a Macbethian world where “nothing is but what is not.”
President Erdogan’s statement of support for President Maduro comes at a difficult moment for the Venezuelan president who is facing a US-imposed economic war; violent destabilisation campaign and a possible military coup. Although Donald Trump’s presidency has proven to be one of the most anti-neo-imperialist in recent US history (ie opposition to “humanitarian bombing”), nothing of substance has changed regarding US policy in Latin America. In fact, US aggression has worsened in the case of Cuba and Venezuela. Nonetheless, Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria has strengthened multipolarity in international relations. Russia, Iran and Turkey are the clear geopolitical winners of the Syrian war, though Turkey bears much of the responsibility for the genocide.
The contradictions of Turkish foreign policy are explained if we consider the country in terms of Dmitri Kitsikis’ concept of the Intermediate Region: a civilisational space going from North Africa, through the Arabian Peninsula, Turkey, the Balkans and Russia. As a region which contains elements of Eastern and Western civilisation, Turkey’s foreign policy is fraught with deep and perhaps irresolvable geopolitical contradictions. On the one hand, Ankara is cooperating closely with Moscow in Syria. The Russians support Turkey’s drive to smash Kurdish insurgency in northern Syria – a serious threat to Turkish sovereignty. Yet, at the same time, the Russian Ministry of Defense is exposing the fact that Turkey is profiting from oil sold to it by Daesh terrorists in Syria. Turkey continues to support Muslim brotherhood terrorists in Syria, but accuses the US of supporting Kurdish “terrorists!” No one has a monopoly on hypocrisy these days.
As the second largest military force in NATO, overseas military bases in Somalia; expanding trade relations with Africa and what looks like a strategic alliance with Venezuela, Turkey is now a key emerging empire of the 21st century.
The emerging Turkish/Venezuelan alliance is a positive development. It will strengthen both countries resistance to US imperialism. In geopolitics, necessity and contingency rule relations between states; strategic alliances can be formed between states of radically different ideologies. But there is a far greater and more nefarious force driving the internal problems of states such as Venezuela and Turkey: globalisation or monopoly capitalism and the aforementioned societal and geopolitical manifestations. Right now, neither Venezuela’s Maduro nor Erdogan’s Turkey is adequately contesting the expanding power of the Global Oligarchy.