Iran, Turkey and Russia throw their weight behind the Venezuelan government against a bizarre move by the US-backed opposition leader to proclaim himself “president,” warning Washington against interfering in domestic affairs of the South American state.
On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said the Islamic Republic “backs Venezuela’s nation and legitimate government in the face of any foreign meddling in the country’s domestic affairs or any illegitimate and illegal measure such as attempts for a coup or moves against the people,” Press TV reported.
“We hope that any disagreement and political problem in Venezuela will be resolved by the country’s own people and government as soon as possible via legal and peaceful solutions,” he added.
On Wednesday, Juan Guaido, the leader of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, abruptly declared himself the “interim president,” quickly winning the backing of the US and its Latin American allies for his strange move.
Guaido’s controversial announcement followed two nights of violent anti-government protests in working-class neighborhoods of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.
US President Donald Trump was quick to recognize Venezuela’s self-proclaimed president, warning that “all options are on the table” if Maduro responded with force against the opposition.
In response, Maduro accused the opposition of seeking to stage a coup with Washington’s backing, cutting off relations with the US and ordering all American diplomats to leave Venezuela within 72 hours.
“We’ve had enough interventionism, here we have dignity, damn it! Here is a people willing to defend this land,” he said in a televised address from the presidential palace.
Stand tall, we stand by you: Erdogan to Maduro
Separately on Thursday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced solidarity with his Venezuelan counterpart in a telephone conversation.
“Our president called and extended Turkey’s support to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and said ‘My brother Maduro! Stand tall, we stand by you!’,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said on Twitter.
Moreover, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu slammed the US interference in Venezuela’s domestic politics.
“The US and some Latin American countries have repeatedly intervened in the internal affairs of Venezuela,” he told A Haber TV channel.
Similarly, Russia voiced its support for the Venezuelan government, warning any US against military intervention in the South American state.
Russia: US moves could lead to bloodshed
Russia, in turn, stressed that it would stand by Venezuela to protect its sovereignty, warning that Washington’s moves could lead to lawlessness and bloodshed in Venezuela.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that events in Venezuela are reaching a dangerous point, and that the US was turning a blind eye to international law.
Interfax cited Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, as saying Moscow would stand with Venezuela to protect its sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in its domestic affairs.
In a statement, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the UN chief was urging all groups to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent an escalation.
“The United Nations firmly rejects any kind of political violence. We underline the urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political negotiations to address the challenges facing the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights,” Farhan Haq said.
Oil-rich Venezuela is mired in economic turmoil, with hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of basic items. It is also one of the world’s highest-crime countries.
Maduro was sworn in for a second term, after a vote marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.