Elliot Abrams’ Appointment and the Seizure of Tankers From Iran to Venezuela

Alliot Abrams speaking US Department of State / Flickr / US government work

Michael Shifter was a featured guest on the podcast Background Briefing with Ian Masters where he spoke about current events affecting Venezuela. The conversation focused on Elliot Abrams’ recent appointment to special envoy for both Venezuela and Iran as well as the United States’ seizure of Iranian tankers headed to Venezuela.

Comments by Michael Shifter: 

“The seizure by the United States in the Strait of Hormuz of these tankers is more directed at Tehran than at Caracas.”

“The policy of putting maximum pressure on both Iran and Venezuela has failed to produce results. The Trump administration wants to show that the sanctions that have been in place can be enforced and can be effective…because so far it’s failed to achieve its objective in both countries.”

“I believe that US-Venezuela policy is basically on hold until the United States elections. I am very skeptical of the ‘wag the dog’ scenario as it applies to Venezuela. I don’t see any political benefits it could have for the Trump administration as Venezuela is not of great concern to most Americans.”

“What the Trump administration has done up until now has not worked. Maduro is entrenched, the opposition is weak, people are fleeing, and the humanitarian crisis is more acute than ever.”

“Abrams’ appointment illustrates the connection the Trump administration is making between Venezuela and Iran. Not only are they regimes that merit a maximum pressure strategy but that they are cooperating with one another.”

Listen to the full interview here