Is APNU being guided by superpowers and does it think it has already outplayed the US?
APNU’s game is now clear: annul the election, govern illegally in the ensuing vacuum and get superpower military assets on the ground a la Venezuela to counter the US. APNU cannot, I repeat, APNU absolutely, unequivocally, unconditionally, cannot hold onto illegal power without superpower backing. It just can’t. APNU is up against the West, and more critically against the US here, plain and simple. APNU cannot openly steal an election in a region the US has vowed to make democratic, defy and mock the US and jeopardize billions of US dollars of American investments. It must have some superpower security and insurance against the US to survive the shock and awe of the US.
There are good reasons to openly wonder whether APNU has already become a pawn on a chessboard controlled by superpower forces rivalling the West? First, Guyana is now an oil power. Where there is oil, there will be superpower subterfuge. Second, APNU has openly defied and mocked the West despite dire warnings from the US. Third, APNU has been warned by the US of both sanctions and military force. Nagamootoo explicitly said “But the impatience is giving way to threats of sanctions and an undeclared war of terror” in his My Turn column in the Chronicle, yet, APNU continues. Fourth, the US recently seriously escalated military assets in the region and primarily just offshore Guyana and Venezuela. Yet, APNU continues. Fifth, the most powerful organizations on earth are condemning APNU including the UN, Commonwealth, Caricom, OAs, etc. Yet, APNU continues.
Sixth, despite many opportunities, APNU has not sought any negotiated outcome to this madness. Its aim is absolute power. Seventh, APNU made some stark post-election rejections of Venezuela’s Guiado in contradiction to its Lima Group pledge. Those rejections were patent endorsements of Maduro and more importantly, his key superpower backers. Eight, APNU hired a small lobbying firm (JJ&B LLC) instead of a larger lobbying outfit to lobby the US government. One of JJ&B LLC’s principals is Bart Fisher who is one of China’s most effective lobbying voices in Washington since the 1980s. Bart Fisher runs the China office of JJ&B LLC and represents Suriname where China has carved out a formidable presence under the Bouterse regime. Ninth, the military minds controlling APNU know the US is gravely concerned about loss of geopolitical and geostrategic Southern Hemisphere influence in America’s backyard including losing the strategic oil-rich northern face of South America (Venezuela, Suriname and Guyana) to superpower rivals. Yet, APNU continues.
Tenth, APNU knows the US is worried about the risk of a Venezuela styled expulsion of US oil interests in Guyana if rival superpowers take control of Guyana under an APNU illegal administration. Yet, APNU continues. Eleven, the rejection of the Carter Center observers. That is outright rejection of the US itself. Twelve, Freddie Kissoon has argued that Granger is effectively ousted and that a cabal now controls APNU. That suggests that there are forces more powerful than APNU itself dominating APNU. Thirteen, APNU is clearly not worried about sanctions despite severe warnings. It has grown not just bolder but outright bellicose since the election. Backing from powerful superpower friends who can easily circumvent sanctions can provide this kind of outrageous bravado. Fourteen, the APNU playbook resembles that of the playbook used in many parts of the world where superpowers have succeeded in thwarting the West.
Despite some of these palpable factors and gravest of risks, APNU continues the illicit masquerade. This is why these factors inevitably lead to the question whether APNU, an illegitimate regime with very limited popular support) is now a pawn playing a hand handed to it by powerful puppet masters? What are the risks if this is indeed unfolding as we speak? Forgot sanctions, the biggest risk is explicit Western military force. The West knows sanctions are meaningless to superpowers with supreme ability to sidestep them. That means the use of force is now the preponderant consideration in Washington and London.
Even if it succeeds to secure superpower backing to survive with its nonexistent legitimacy, APNU will have to surrender a lot for any superpower to support it. The balkanization of Guyana for starters. Essequibo (Venezuela), Corentyne (Suriname), Rupununi (Brazil) will become fair game to superpowers calling the shots as well as neighboring powers with territorial opportunism. Venezuela will end up indirectly controlling this APNU regime on Essequibo. Guyana will not survive. Partition becomes a serious reality. Look at Crimea, Syria, Lybia, Yemen, etc.
Further, APNU has nothing to really offer superpowers for a lifeline. APNU is working with dismal legitimacy, pathetic popular support, weak internal military structure incapable of even holding on for an hour against superior force, nothing of financial substance to exchange for superpowers to prop it up, tragicomic leadership and the heightened risk of the US ending this farce abruptly with 10 minutes of military reckoning. Syria, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela, Turkey, etc have large populations for meaningful trade with superpower backers, more advanced economies, oil they control, greater financial footings, developed militaries for significant military purchases from superpower friends and other elements that make sense for superpower support compared to this APNU regime.
Even for superpowers, it would be difficult to see how any superpower backers will extend the life of this regime beyond a year. There is no economic, security or even geopolitical benefit given APNU’s fundamental weaknesses and the catastrophic fallout, which it will create. In addition, those superpowers will quickly switch allegiance to the far more populist PPP. It is no wonder the US is backing the democratically victorious and far more populist PPP. That is instant legitimacy, which APNU does not possess.
Then there is the real risk of outright civil war. This is not Guyana of the PNC rule. The complete loss of oil assets through sanctions (Exxon already has physical control of our wells and the US will seize the money from sales) and I can’t see how APNU survives a year before being ditched by its superpower fulcrums. APNU and its superpower friends will not see a cent. The US will feed that money to the opposition. That is a bleak financial reality even for superpower backers. All that hard work to gain power illegally could end up in brutal demise a short time thereafter.
The question about whether APNU and its possible backers have outplayed the US stems from what is now a known wimpish Trump foreign policy in responding to aggression from rival superpowers (see South China Sea, the Mideast, Baltic region, Venezuela, etc). APNU may be guided to think that this heist could be pulled off because of this typical Trump weakness coupled with the fact that the US may be distracted with an election and the coronavirus outbreak. However, in this instance, I think APNU has badly miscalculated. Guyana is a very soft target, and there is universal disgust for APNU’s antics, Trump needs a wag the dog outlet to boost his base with his re-election chances in trouble due to the economy and Covid-19, nothing sends a better message to Venezuela right now than force next door and this geopolitical game is cutting really close geopolitically and geo-strategically to the US home turf.
APNU could be doing all this hard dirty work for its own short-term demise. And that demise will be brutal if history of superpower rejection is any guide. Plus, playing with fire with the US is just that; literally playing with fire and brimstone. The PNC has always been a sordid tale of macabre incompetence driven by depraved reckless bullyism and a despotic orientation that has always catastrophically backfired. This time it is likely playing a game from which it may not survive.
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