Venezuela and Its Next Battle Against Terrorism

By José Negrón Valera

“We lie, we cheat, we steal. We have entire training courses,” said Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state last year about his time as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Undeterred and with the calm of those who seem to have approved such “training courses”, Pompeo returns to an argument that he had already used three years ago to attack the Bolivarian revolution, accuse it of protecting Hezbollah cells in the country. Venezuelan Minister Tarek El Aissami responded to the attack.

This from Pompeo is not a minor statement and must be taken into account by the Venezuelan security agencies.

Faced with the fragmentation of the opposition in the country, the demobilization of its electoral base and the cannibalization of its political leaderships, the United States has no choice but to continue playing the tactics of systemic wear and siege, and add a component in which they have great expertise: black or covert operations .

We refer to the full spectrum of them, from the ever present operations of extracting political leaderships, to the use of more hostile actions, such as direct attacks against military bases, selective killings and bombs. All this included, without the slightest modesty, in the American hybrid military doctrine and exposed in its manuals of Non-Conventional War and Counterinsurgency TC 18-01 and 3-24 .

The reason is clearly operational. The United States needs to accelerate the pressure it already exerts in economic, financial and even psychological terms against the South American nation.

In Washington they know that terrorist actions rarely end up in government changes. Rather, those are methods of pressure to make progress on political objectives, to press for disadvantageous conditions to be accepted, to promote the breaking of consensus among certain actors in society.

In the Venezuelan case, the areas to be affected are the unity of the Armed Forces and their adherence to the national Constitution, and the relationship between society and the national government.

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How do they intend to do it?
Academics like Alex Schmid consider “terrorism to be an inspiring method of anxiety.” Violent actions are carried out by individual, group or state clandestine agents, for idiosyncratic, criminal or political reasons, and “the direct targets of violence are not the main objectives.” Moreover , for researchers like Brigitte Nacos, terrorism is “really an act of communication.”

The recent emergence of paramilitary groups in Venezuela – as claimed by its authorship of the attack on Military Command 5102, on December 22, 2019 – clarifies Nacos’ perspective.

Operation Aurora, as they baptized it through a video broadcast on YouTube, tries to create an audience. If traditional opposition politicians have been unable to capitalize attention, then now these terrorists will be the attractors for the social base that the United States cannot afford to lose in Venezuela.

The media attention that has been given to this kind of criminal actions, such as those carried out by the former police officer, Óscar Pérez, demonstrates that for the Pentagon, the terrorist action aims to keep the country in a state of permanent emergency, accelerate its wear, generate the “breakdown of everyday life”, in the words of opposition leader Freddy Guevara, responsible for coordinating the guarimbas (violent street protests) in 2017.

The 5 assumptions against terrorism
Edwin Baker is a professor at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Extensive connoisseur of the phenomenon of terrorism, he has opened a necessary debate on what are the five aspects to be taken into account to make a successful counter-terrorism policy.

These dimensions are:

  • The possibility of recognizing a terrorist;
  • the need to de-radicalize society;
  • the debate about whether terrorism can be defeated or not;
  • the effectiveness or not of the neutralization tactic of terrorist leaderships and
  • the holistic management of the situation.

The need to de-radicalize society has already been addressed in depth in an article entitled “The biggest threat Venezuela will face”, and we have also exposed the need to holistically address the elements that cause a country to be destabilized . But there are still some knots to untie.

One of them has to do with the possibility of anticipating or not the threat by recognizing in time where, how and who can join the ranks of social chaoticization.

A character like Óscar Pérez , sadly famous for firing from a helicopter against public buildings of the Venezuelan government, came from a police force that has squads charged with fighting organized crime. Even so, they could not anticipate the threat. A political character like Leopoldo López, mastermind of a terrorist action plan such as La Salida, comes from the high social layer of Venezuela. Individuals trained by Colombian paramilitaries who participated in the frustrated assassination are recruited in the middle classes. Dozens of young people who participated in the social violence of 2014 and 2017 in Venezuela were recluted in the poor areas of the capital.

It seems that the approach to the problem is not of individuals, but of a context that is making it possible for elements of different social layers to converge at the point of violence. So, rather than recognizing the terrorist, what it is about is identifying the circumstances that serve as a platform.

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Some considerations
The question to be asked by the government of Nicolás Maduro is not whether terrorist attacks will occur, but when. Remember that the country is dealing with the United States, one of the greatest promoters of terrorism worldwide.

Counting the evidence that supports this statement is not a topic for this article, but it would be worth mentioning some such as the creation together with the Mossad of the Islamic State (banned in Russia and other countries) and previously of Al Qaeda itself , selective killings such as that of Generals Soleimani and Gaddafi, the incentive of civil wars as in the case of Ukraine, Libya or Yugoslavia. And that without deepening the promotion of coups in dozens of countries. Reasons to worry, there are plenty.

The greatest and most important action to take is the change of mentality. Venezuela and any country in the world have the sovereign right to defend themselves from what they consider their potential threats. The deterrence scheme is a success. Designed from the administration of President Chavez and with the support of Russian armament, it mixes a civic-military doctrine of its own characteristics, with an A2AD defensive strategy (threat of anti-access and denial of area) currently considered a role model, according to the statement made by Admiral James G. Foggo , commander of the United States Naval Forces in Europe and Africa.

“As for defensive capabilities, as I tell allies and partners, if they are limited in the amount of resources they have and want to protect their coasts, then think about what Russians do with A2AD and get similar systems. Smart mines. Anti-ship cruise missiles. Interconnected coastal radars, ” Foggo said in an interview with Defense Writers Group.

At that level we act correctly, but where should we put the accent. The roadmap for the siege is already declared, two of the vertices are the attack on the Special Operations Forces (FAES) and the sanctions against the gold trade. On the one hand, they will seek to demonize the groups that are responsible for guaranteeing the stability and security of the nation, on the other they will fill the southern part of the country with conflicts. Bolívar state (in the South), probably more than any other region including the Colombian border, will be a hotbed this 2020.

The recommendation is not to give in to blackmail or be ashamed of the need and legitimate right to defend the country’s sovereignty.

It is necessary to discuss again the need to erect an institution that serves to centralize the country’s intelligence and counterintelligence efforts. Eliminate dispersion and duplication of efforts and objectives. The creation of the Strategic Center for the Protection and Defense of the Homeland was the body called to the task, but it still deserves greater support. Perhaps elevating it to a ministerial rank can serve to foster cooperation, coordination and centralization among State security agencies.

On the other hand, we must put on the table, without complexes, or fears, the debate on the financing of USAID to Non-Governmental Organizations that act as parastatal arms in the service of the destabilization of the country. Hate messages, calls for murder and violence in the country must stop, if we hope the radicalization of society to cease.

Terrorism can be defeated, but for this to happen, the causes that strengthen and originate it must be eliminated. Including the psychological warfare that the country wishes to maintain, in a state of division and permanent social conflict. It is not just police and military measures, it is a multidimensional approach where you can also address the complex economic and institutional problems that serve as fertile ground for the promotion of hate and social fragmentation. Defeating the threat of violence involves rebuilding as a nation. That is the first counter-terrorism measure.

Featured image: © REUTERS / Stringer

Source URL: Mundo Sputnik

Translated by JRE/EF

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José Negrón Valera
+ posts

Venezuelan anthropologist and writer, researcher in unconventional warfare, counterterrorism and information operations. Author of the books 'A loft for Cleopatra', 'Kings and dinosaurs' and 'Knowledge and power: the process of academic renewal at the UCV (1967-1970)'. National Literature Award "Stefanía Mosca" 2018.

José Negrón Valera

Venezuelan anthropologist and writer, researcher in unconventional warfare, counterterrorism and information operations. Author of the books 'A loft for Cleopatra', 'Kings and dinosaurs' and 'Knowledge and power: the process of academic renewal at the UCV (1967-1970)'. National Literature Award "Stefanía Mosca" 2018.