Ilhan Omar speaks at an election night results party in Minneapolis, Nov. 6, 2018. .
(photo credit: STEPHEN MATUREN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)
New US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar was slammed this week for comments appearing to back the Maduro regime in Venezuela.
Omar accused the US of backing a coup and supporting a “far-right” candidate for interim president of Venezuela, views in contrast to those across the political spectrum in the US, where there is widespread consensus that Maduro has abused his power and that opposition leader Juan Guaido is a legitimate politician.
“A US backed coup in Venezuela is not a solution to the dire issues they face,” Omar tweeted on Thursday. “Trump’s efforts to install a farright opposition will only incite violence and further destabilize the region.”
Omar came under criticism for that tweet and for re-tweeting Rania Khalek, a controversial journalist and activist.
“This is the best and most detailed statement I’ve seen so far from a Democrat on Venezuela,” Khalek wrote on Friday. “Omar, as well as her other colleagues who spoke out, should be commended for opposing Trump’s coup attempt, this will surely provoke malicious attacks from the pro-war crowd. Very brave.”
Omar retweeted the Khalek tweet and added the image of a fist, indicating support.
“Another day and another questionable tweet by Omar,” New York Magazine and Huffington Post writer Yashar Ali wrote. “In this case boosting praise from Rania who has written many times for RT – Kremlin controlled media. Important to note that Congresswoman Oman serves on the foreign affairs committee.”
Ali also expressed concern that Omar had re-tweeted Abby Martin, “who recently worked for TelesSur, the media organization primarily funded by the Venezuelan government. Before that Abby worked for RT for many years. Abby also refers to 9/11 as an inside job.”
Omar responded to the criticism by saying that one can fundamentally disagree with someone and see “positivity” in something they have said. “I don’t believe in full condemnation of humans,” she said.
Author and journalist Andrea Chalupa accused Omar of “amplifying an RT contributor,” asserting that Khalek supports “Kremlin propaganda” and that this was an attempt to “cover up the plight of the Venezuelan people.” Idrees Ahmad, an academic, asked if Omar was aware she was tweeting an “Islamophobic apologist for Assad’s genocide.”
Faisal Mutar, an Iraqi intellectual, was confused as well.
“I had no idea that many Americans including Omar from the house of representatives believe exactly as Putin and Russia Today’s view about what happened in Venezuela.”
Writer and Iraq expert Rasha al-Aqeedi argued that Omar’s views were “deluded and misinformed.”
It was a tough week for Omar, who had also been excoriated for defending black extremists who had shouted bigoted and homophobic statements at teenagers in DC during the Covington controversy, claiming the teens “taunted five black men.” She then deleted the tweet.
WADING INTO the Venezuela crisis and appearing to stand with controversial voices who have supported the Syrian regime for Russia has put Omar at odds with many of her colleagues in the Democratic Party, and even within the left-leaning and multi-cultural milieu that once celebrated her victory last year.
Bernie Sanders said the “Maduro government has waged a violent crackdown on Venezuelan civil society” and many on the left in the US oppose not only Maduro but also the way in which the Maduro regime has attracted support from Russia and Turkey.
Russia is accused of meddling in the 2016 US elections.
Omar’s views on Venezuela appear to dovetail with a narrative in the US that is intensely critical of US foreign policy and sees the US as fomenting coups and interventions abroad. This more isolationist and hyper-critical view has connected voices on the far-left and right in the US.
However, it is not usual among elected officials at the congressional level and is seen as out of place, or at least severely misinformed, for someone who will be dealing with foreign policy in the House of Representatives.
Tulsi Gabbard, a Representative from Hawaii who appears set to run for president in 2020, has also opposed US policy on Venezuela and been critiqued for appearing to support the Assad regime in Syria.
Omar has shown in the past a willingness to backtrack on statements. On January 22, she admitted that comments about Israel “hypnotizing” the world were offensive.
However, her series of tweets about Venezuela show that she is passionate about opposing the current administration’s decision to take a more active role in supporting the opposition.
“If we really want to support the Venezuelan people, we can lift the economic sanctions that are inflicting suffering on innocent families,” she said.
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