By John Ubaldi,
With all the attention focused on the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula and the ongoing civil war inside Syria, the U.S. cannot forget about other countries that need attention. If tensions in these countries are left unresolved, they have the potential to boil over into a national crisis.
Venezuela’s Society and Government Is in Trouble
The situation in Venezuela has become extremely tenuous. Moises Rendon of the Center for Strategic and International Studies reports that Venezuela’s crisis combines “mind-boggling economic mismanagement, private-sector decimation, the crippling of democratic institutions, the suppression of individual freedom and widespread human rights violations. Severe shortages of food and medicine, coupled with hyperinflation, are a daily struggle for most Venezuelans…except for elite government officials, some of whom are facing drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption accusations.”
The situation inside Venezuela is entirely man-made, resulting from the socialist legacy of former president Hugo Chavez. Socialism continues under Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro. The Office of the President has enormous power and the Venezuelan people lack the very basics of life subsistence. Ironically, Venezuela is one of the wealthiest countries in Latin America, with an abundance of natural resources.
The crisis in Venezuela has begun to spill over into the neighboring countries of Columbia and Brazil, who are ill prepared to handle this situation. They are facing their own internal problems.
Russia and China Provide Aid to Venezuela
So far, the U.S. has left Venezuela alone, but geopolitics may change this situation. Both Russia and China have extended Venezuela at least $55 billion in credit. They hope that the financial situation in Venezuela improves, so that Caracas will meet its bilateral payment obligations.
What strategy will the U.S. pursue if the Venezuelan governmental structure collapses? What will the impact be on the rest of South and Central America?
Humanitarian Disaster in Africa
The other crisis that has barely made a blip on the public or government conscience is the ongoing humanitarian disaster inside Somalia. Three additional countries face a desperate situation. More than 20 million people in these countries need humanitarian aid to fend off starvation and disease.
Last month, the United Nations pleaded to the world community to rescue Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and northeast Nigeria.
UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien stated, “We stand at a critical point in history. Already at the beginning of the year, we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN.
Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.”
In Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, everyone has been involved in perpetual conflict for some time now. Back in January, U.S. Navy Seal William “Ryan” Owens died in a combat operations against al-Qaida militants.
Somalia and Yemen sit astride the pivotal Bab al-Mandab Strait, which is one of the seven economic world choke points. Vast amounts of oil move through this area to the western countries of the world.
After the raid that killed Owens, the U.S. government has said little. Neither the Obama administration nor the Trump administration has addressed U.S. strategy for moving forward in this area of the world.
Nigeria Faces ISIS-Aligned Terror Organization
The other area of concern is ongoing crisis is Nigeria. The Obama administration placed Nigeria on the back burner in favor of solving crises in other, “more pressing” areas of the world.
In February, Newsweek reporter Ayoade Olatunbosun-Alakija reported that the humanitarian crisis in northeast Nigeria is one of the most underreported disasters in the world. People have turned their attentions to this beleaguered region only recently.
Over the last seven years, Boko Haram, one of the most brutal militant groups the world has ever seen, caused untold loss of life and liberty in Africa. Their reach included northeastern Nigeria; parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon; and the Lake Chad region.
In 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS-affiliated supporters are not just centered in the Middle East, but are now in a variety of countries.
South Sudan is facing a severe crisis just six years after gaining independence. Oregon nonprofit Mercy Corps reports that Sudan’s political conflict, compounded by economic woes and drought, has caused massive displacement, raging violence and dire food shortages. Over 5.1 million people are in need of aid and 4.8 million are facing hunger. Due to economic collapse and three years of poor agricultural conditions, areas of South Sudan are now experiencing famine.
As the U.S. government deals with the situations in Korea and Syria, the current administration also must adapt its focus to other areas of the world and be prepared for other unexpected challenges. These are the global responsibilities of a superpower. If the U.S. does nothing, who will?