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Stay Strong Mi Amigo!

Stay Strong Mi Amigo!

One of the foreign state dignitaries at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inauguration ceremony at his posh palace was Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela.

Enjoying the nice, extravagant palace banquet Mr Maduro hailed Mr Erdoğan as the “leader of the new multi-polar world.” As Mr Maduro was all smiles with this geographically faraway, newfound comradeship the inflation rate in his country had hit over 40,000 per cent. The IMF says inflation in Venezuela could pass a million per cent this year.

Venezuela, with the world’s largest oil reserves, suffers severe shortages of food and medicine, water shortages and blackouts. When the official rate for the old bolivares to the dollar was 250,000 the market rate was 6 million. As The Economist reminded, Venezuela is the world’s worst-performing economy among countries not at war.

Earlier this year, the 35-member Organization of American States issued a report accusing Mr Maduro’s Venezuela of crimes against humanity including torture, rape and more than 8,000 extrajudicial executions. In a country of about 30 million people, more than 2 million have left their homeland.

Mr Maduro is probably more loved in the distant lands featuring the Crescent and Star than in his own country. Mr Erdoğan passed his best wishes to Mr Maduro in a telephone conversation after a drone assassination attempt on Mr Maduro. Mr Erdoğan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalın, wrote on his Twitter account: “Stay strong mi amigo!”

What brings the leaderships of two countries with no common culture, language, religion, past or geography so close to each other? Common interests? Maybe. Ideology? Maybe. But there is more in common between Mr Maduro and Erdoğan.

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Take, for instance, Mr Maduro’s explanation for the miserable shape of an economy with rich oil resources. Mr Maduro says the misery is a plot against Venezuela by “imperialist powers” like America. Sounds familiar? What else? He says America is waging an economic war on Venezuela. Now that is even more familiar to any Turk.

In Mr Maduro’s and Erdoğan’s accounts, Venezuela and Turkey are the two countries in the world America is waging an economic war against. What to do?

“If they have their dollars,” Mr Maduro now has his magic formula, paquetazo rojo – a big red package of economic measures to fight back. And “if they have their dollars,” on this side of the Atlantic, “we have our God.”

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv.James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary.Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London).(Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

1 Comment

  1. Nessie

    One big distinction between Turkey and Venezuela is that Venezuela is serving on the United Nations Human Rights Council . . .


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