The Guardian – Tom Phillips / Venezuela crisis: what happens now after two men have claimed to be president?
- Yesterday, a succession of world powers – led by the US – declared they were recognizing the opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s rightful interim president. As the news sunk in, Venezuela specialists said they were unsure what the immediate impact might be – and how Nicolás Maduro might react.
- “Today is the most serious threat [Maduro] has faced,” said Eric Farnsworth, a former US diplomat and vice-president of the Council of the Americas. “Maduro can’t acquiesce to this shift – he is going to have to react in some way,” added Farnsworth.
- Farnsworth said Maduro might “turn sharpshooters on crowds and try to scare everybody back home”. If that happened, according to the former diplomat, the US and the international community would be forced to react.
- Ratcheting up oil sanctions in an attempt to economically strangle Maduro’s regime would be the most likely step, said Farnsworth. But David Smilde, a Venezuela expert from the Washington Office on Latin America advocacy group, said the US in fact had few good options were Maduro to respond with violence or political repression.
Bloomberg – Tina Davis & Javier Blas / Two Venezuelan Presidents raises questions about OPEC leadership
- With Venezuela boasting two proclaimed heads of state, it’s worth remembering that the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves also currently holds the rotating role of president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
- There is some precedence if Guaido decides to send his own minister to the OPEC. During the civil war in Libya, two factions tried to attend an OPEC meeting, but the organization only allowed a representative from the government that was recognized by most of OPEC’s members and the United Nations.
- The next scheduled ministerial meeting will be in Vienna on April 17 and 18, preceded by a gathering of the monitoring committee — which reviews the implementation of supply cuts — in Azerbaijan on March 17 and 18.
Euractiv – Claire Stam / Merkel champions multilateralism, Conte and Sánchez share two different visions in Davos
- In her Davos address, German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended multilateralism, saying leaders should remember their national interests but bear in mind that other people have their own interests as well. Factor them in and you can have a “win-win situation”, she insisted.
- The German leader sent the exact opposite message to that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who delivered a video address in Davos the day before.
- Merkel said it is time to “call a spade a spade” and see international architecture revamped so that it reflects current realities and power dynamics.
- Also in Davos, Italy’s Giuseppe Conte and Spain’s Pedro Sánchez presented two radically different visions of the world. Echoing Merkel’s plea, Sánchez stressed the need to strengthen multilateralism in order to bring economic prosperity back and fight populism, while Conte spoke of a new humanism that goes beyond the traditional divide between left and right.
- Of the three European leaders, Spain’s Premier was the only one to explicitly present the path to decarbonisation as a necessity as well as a business opportunity.
Foreign Policy – Lina Benabdallah / Spite won’t beat China in Africa
- If President Trump, as his administration has stated, intends to have an Africa strategy centered on combating China’s reach in the region, the US needs to recognize how China’s influence actually works. China-Africa relations are certainly about infrastructure investments and natural resource extraction, but these go hand in hand with investments in people-to-people relations and sustained diplomatic outreach.
- US diplomacy lags far behind Chinese efforts. The delayed appointment of Tibor Nagy, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was yet another signal that African countries are not a priority within the State Department. Even more crippling to US efforts may be the arrogance that oozes from the administration toward Africa, in contrast to the work done by the Chinese to present a relationship between equals.
- Moreover, assuming Africans have no agency in their relations with China is a mistake. If Chinese governments officials or entrepreneurs step out of bounds and aggravate their African partners, they can and often do face steep consequences.
- Rather than reducing US-Africa policy to a reaction to China-Africa relations, the Trump administration would be better off cultivating durable and stable relationships with all African countries. Chinese ambitions on the continent may not be entirely benevolent, but Beijing’s diplomatic approach is not only outplaying Washington’s but leaving a lasting impression across Africa.
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.