Venezuela’s Guaido courts Russia; powers divided on Maduro

Venezuela's National Assembly head and self-proclaimed "acting president" Juan Guaido, seen at the National Assembly in Caracas on January 29, 2019, is urging Russia and China to switch their support to his side. (AFP / Yuri Cortez)
Updated 01 February 2019

Venezuela’s Guaido courts Russia; powers divided on Maduro

  • Russia and China are backing the floundering government of President Nicolas Maduro
  • The US and most of Venezuela's neighbors want Maduro out

CARACAS: Global jostling intensified on Thursday between countries that want Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in power and those trying to force him to resign, as opposition leader Juan Guaido made overtures to his rival’s allies Russia and China.
Guaido told Reuters he had sent communications to both powers, which are Venezuela’s top foreign creditors and support Maduro in the UN Security Council despite worries about the cash-strapped country’s ability to pay.
The 35-year-old leader argued that Russia and China’s interests would be best served by switching the side they back in Venezuela, an OPEC member which has the world’s largest oil reserves but is in dire financial straits.
“What most suits Russia and China is the country’s stability and a change of government,” Guaido said. “Maduro does not protect Venezuela, he doesn’t protect anyone’s investments, and he is not a good deal for those countries.”
The intense pressure is led by the United States, which along with most other countries in the Western Hemisphere recognizes Guaido as the country’s legitimate interim president, arguing that Maduro stole his second-term election.
The United States on Monday imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil firm, aimed at pressuring Maduro to step down.
A former union leader, bus driver and foreign minister, the 56-year-old Maduro, who first took office in 2013, has faced waves of protests in recent years as he presided over hyperinflation and chronic food shortages. Some 3 million Venezuelans have left the country. A UN expert on Thursday warned that the US oil sanctions could worsen the humanitarian crisis.


Al-Qaeda claims Pakistan detained wife of its chief Zawahiri

Updated 23 August 2019

Al-Qaeda claims Pakistan detained wife of its chief Zawahiri

  • Zawahiri, an Egyptian, became leader of Al-Qaeda following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan
  • He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the region

ISLAMABAD: Al-Qaeda has accused Pakistani security forces of detaining the wife of its chief, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and two other families of the insurgent group’s “martyrs” for nearly a year.
In a statement, the leadership of Al-Qaeda on Friday alleged “treacherous Pakistani forces” captured Zawahiri’s wife and others as they left the former Taliban stronghold of Waziristan bordering Afghanistan about a year ago due to continuous airstrikes.
It said: “We ... hold Pakistan’s government and its treacherous army and their American masters responsible for their criminal acts.”
There was no immediate comment from Pakistan.
Zawahiri, an Egyptian, became leader of Al-Qaeda following the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan by US Navy SEALS. He is believed to be hiding somewhere in the region.