Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, responding to protesters threatening to overwhelm his country, claimed that they were motivated by Osama bin Laden. He further claimed in his speech that these protesters drank Nescafe laced with hallucinogens. Strange as his comments may seem, he is not alone among world leaders trying to explain the crises happening in their lands. Three politicians who have given strange explanations for crises happening in their lands are Hugo Chavez, Bachar al-Assad, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez repeatedly blames the United States as somehow being responsible for the economic crisis in his country. Starting early 2010, gas prices began rising. This was largely due to state interventions in an economy they did not know how to manage. Yet Chavez claims the crisis is “no tragedy.” Rather, the economic downturn provides an opportunity for him to demonstrate the strengths of his state-run sysytem, over against the failure of US capitalism.
Syrian leader Bachar al-Assad, instead of blaming the US, inadvertently said Israel was at fault for his country’s economic difficulties. Meeting with Chavez in 2010, he even traced the current crisis in the Arab world back to the war between Israel and Lebanon in 2006. Israel’s actions, he claimed, put Syria, as self-designated representative of the Arab nations, on alert, and led to an economic crisis in his country that al-Assad hoped to rectify by allying his country with Venezuela in 2010. He repeated this anti-Israel stance when he met with President Devisingh Patil of India later that year. “The absence of peace, due to the Israeli policies and despite Syria’s relentless efforts to achieve it, aggravates tension and undermines Syria’s endeavors for development and economic prosperity.”
Iranian ruler Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went a step further than either Chavez or al-Assad. He actually praised the economic crisis in the Arab world. As the crisis descends on his own nation, Ahmadinejad continues to blame it on the satanic powers of the West. He also claimed that the twelth imam Mahdi, a Shiite saint from the ninth century, was coordinating the uprisings. The crisis is a “global revolution, managed by the imam of the ages.”
The failure of these world leaders to take responsibility for what is going on in their own back yards, choosing instead to blame their problems on neighboring countries or supernatural forces, virtually guarantees that the protests will continue. None of these despots can hold on to power indefinitely, so expect the protests to continue and new leaders installed shortly.
Erdbrink, Thomas. “Ahmadinejad says Egypt, Tunisia were inspired by anti-Western protests.” Washington Post.
Forero, Juan. “Oil-rich Venezuela gripped by economic crisis.” Washington Post.
“Presidents al-Assad, Chavez: Common Aspirations & Challenges,Terrorism has One Synonym ‘Israel’.” SANA.