By Laila Tajeldine – May 23, 2022
Mark Esper’s recently published book has cast light on the political agenda of former President Donald Trump and his administration’s aggressive stance towards Venezuela and Alex Saab.
On multiple occasions and through countless documents, Venezuela has shown that Alex Saab had diplomatic status when he was detained on June 12, 2020, in Cape Verde. However, the US has insisted that this is false and that he was not carrying any documents which might have attested to his diplomatic status at the moment of his arrest. Of course, the US has not been able to explain how the Cape Verde media, through a police source, published the documents that Alex Saab was carrying when he was detained. Additional documents were on their way to the Islamic Republic of Iran from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
The governments of the US and its media allies also avoid mentioning that the special mission of June 2020 was the third one that Saab would take to Iran. Special Envoy Alex Saab had traveled to Iran in March and April of 2020. The goal of the first trip was to deepen commercial ties between the two Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries member states, the second trip was oriented towards securing much needed gasoline for Venezuela after the onset of the illegal unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the US and the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who deny this reality, perhaps it would be helpful for them to take a close look at Mark Esper’s recent book, A Sacred Oath, which he wrote about his time as US secretary of defense. The book clearly demonstrates the political agenda of the Trump administration, which sought to prosecute Venezuela and its diplomat Alex Saab. Of course, the author of the book portrays himself as one of the few officials in the administration who had some common sense in the face of Trump’s whimsical and childish plans to “invade Venezuela.”
Esper writes that: “At Maduro’s direction, Saab was reportedly on a special mission to negotiate a deal with Iran for Venezuela to receive more fuel, food, and medical supplies. Saab was Maduro’s long-standing point man when it came to crafting the economic deals and other transactions that were keeping the regime afloat.”
Esper’s confession has made it clear that the US was aware of Saab’s diplomatic status, as he was carrying out high-level negotiations with Iran in order to arrange deliveries of basic foodstuffs, medicines, and fuel. It is well known that only diplomats negotiate agreements between states.
In the book, Esper doesn’t hesitate to show how important it was for the US to detain Saab, as “access to him could really help explain how Maduro and his regime worked. It was important to get custody of him. This could provide a real road map for the U.S. government to unravel the Venezuelan government’s illicit schemes and bring them to justice.”
Thus, the political motives behind this case are clear for all to see. The allegations levelled at Saab are just legal inventions to justify a politically motivated kidnapping. These charges are simply an excuse to keep food, medicine, and fuel from reaching Venezuela. Esper has even admitted that “it was important to extradite Saab,” and for this reason his was accused of money laundering in the US. Of course there was no real evidence, and a serious trial would have dismissed these allegations immediately.
The Saab case has revealed a flagrant violation of international law on behalf of the US, something which those who are informed of this situation in the US are very much aware of, and for this reason Esper admitted that the detention of Saab “really spooked the officials at State, Justice, and the NSC who were working this case.” These comments refer to the time period after the Venezuelan government denounced the US’ violation of the laws which protect diplomats.
In his book, Esper describes his former boss, Donald Trump, as erratic and crazy, which reached its peak when Trump was convinced that Saab would be freed by “Russians and Venezuelans.” Trump ordered the USS San Jacinto to move from the Mediterranean to Cape Verde. According to the New York Times, the ship costs US taxpayers $52,000 per day, which has amounted to $25 million in total, money which was wasted without a rational explanation. Esper notes in his book how this was due to the “variety of rumors” circulating: that Russia was going to send special forces and liberate Saab, that Venezuela was sending some aircraft to rescue him, or that the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps would send a team. Esper has written that it was his disagreement over sending the USS San Jacinto to Cape Verde that caused his removal from his post.
The following details from the book are very revealing of what it was like within the Trump administration, specifically, when Trump shown his disdain for Juan Guaidó and his respect for Nicolás Maduro, who he referred to as a “strong” man, according to Esper.
Esper’s book also shows the extent to which Guaidó and the radical opposition within Venezuela tried to provoke a large-scale invasion of their country, without any concern for the suffering and damage that that this might cause for ordinary Venezuelans. Trump also considered bombing a Venezuelan refinery, which also serves as a port for petroleum products, in order to paralyze Venezuela’s oil industry. They also considered cybernetic attacks on Venezuelan infrastructure, like the one carried out against Venezuela’s electrical grid that left the country without power for several days.
Trump’s irrationality and obsession wasn’t only centered on Venezuela. According to Esper, he also considered sending Patriot missiles into Mexico and then claiming that they hadn’t come from the US. Trump planned an intervention in Iran and was intent on continuing to economically strangle Cuba. But also, in his own country, he urged protesters to take the streets around the White house.
Esper’s book attests to the fact that the US is the country that has most violated international law and human rights and that, to date, US policy has changed very little throughout the successive administrations. Regarding the Saab case, the Biden administration has shown no intention of amending the the fact that the US government kidnapped a clearly identifiable diplomat. This situation has opened a new stage of world diplomacy and has broken with the rules of international order which the US should be bound by.
Featured image: Image of Alex Saab and Mark Esper’s book A Sacred Oath. Photo: HispanTV.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Laila Tajeldine is a Venezuelan Lawyer | University Professor | Political, international and human rights analyst | TV and radio presenter