Tareck El Aissami

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Tareck El Aissami
Tareck El Aissami.png
Vice President of Venezuela
Assumed office
4 January 2017
President Nicolás Maduro
Preceded by Aristóbulo Istúriz
Governor of Aragua
In office
2012–2017
Preceded by Rafael Isea
Minister of Interior and Justice
In office
September 2008 – October 2012
Preceded by Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Succeeded by Néstor Reverol
Personal details
Born (1974-11-12) 12 November 1974 (age 42)
El Vigía, Mérida[1]
Nationality Venezuelan
Political party United Socialist Party
Alma mater University of the Andes
Profession politician
Religion Druze[2]

Tareck Zaidan El Aissami Maddah (Arabic: طارق زيدان العيسمي مداح‎‎,[3] born 12 November 1974)[4] is a Venezuelan politician who has been Vice President of Venezuela since 4 January 2017, appointed by President Nicolás Maduro. Previously he was Governor of Aragua. He served as Minister of the Interior and Justice from 2008 to 2012.

Early life[edit]

El Aissami was born on November 12, 1974.[4] He spent his childhood in El Vigía, Mérida, Venezuela.[5] His father, Zaidan El Amin El Aissami, who is also known as Carlos Zaidan, was a Druze immigrant from Jabal al-Druze in Syria[6] and was an alleged military associate of Saddam Hussein.[7][8] Zaidan, who had connections with leftist political movements in the Middle East, supported Hugo Chávez during the February 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt and was arrested.[9] His mother is of Lebanese origin.[10]

Education[edit]

He is a graduate of the University of the Andes (ULA) where he studied law and criminology, and was influenced there by Utopia 78, a left-wing student movement.[6][11] While there, he was a student of Adán Chávez Frías, the older brother of Hugo Chávez.[12]

Political career[edit]

National Assembly[edit]

In 2005, El Aissami was elected to the National Assembly.[11]

Minister of Interior and Justice[edit]

El Aissami, beside Nicolás Maduro, present Vladimir Putin the Key to the City of Caracas in April 2010.

From 2007 to 2008, he served in the Ministry of the Interior as the Vice Minister of Citizen Security.[11] In September 2008, Hugo Chávez appointed El Aissami as Minister of the Interior and Justice.[13][14] During both tenures, he was head of Onidex, a passport and naturalization agency that was part of Venezuela's interior ministry.[15][16] A close friend of El Aissami who he had met at the university was later made the head of Onidex.[15]

Governor of Aragua[edit]

He served as the Governor of Aragua from 2012 until 2017. While serving as governor, he often used anti-American rhetoric, describing the United States as a "threat to humanity".[17] During his tenure, Venezuela's socioeconomic status deteriorated, with El Aissami stating that though Venezuelans "become more poor, there is more loyalty to the revolution and more love for Chávez, while the poorer people are more loyal to the revolutionary project".[18] Meanwhile in his state of Aragua, Iranian companies Parchin Chemical Industries and Qods Aviation, which were sanctioned at the time under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747, were reportedly operating with assistance of the Venezuelan military.[19]

Vice Presidency[edit]

President Nicolas Maduro appointed El Aissami as Vice-President on 4 January 2017.[6][20] Due to controversy surrounding El Aissimi, the appointment was contentious; if a recall election were to occur in 2017, he would become the President of Venezuela until 2019.[11] According to the publication El País, El Aissami is so despised by the opposition that his appointment is seen as a way to dissuade a recall movement against President Maduro.[21] Following El Aissami's appointment, The Wall Street Journal noted in their article Venezuela Tees Up Its Next Dictator that Venezuelans considering to hold a presidential recall election "will now have to decide which tyrant they’d prefer to live under".[19]

Football career[edit]

On February 4, 2015, it was revealed Aragua FC signed him as a striker.[22] Aragua FC was heavily sponsored from El Aissami's state and there are no records of him receiving playing time on the field as of January 2017.[21]

Controversy[edit]

Drug trafficking allegations[edit]

According to The Wall Street Journal, El Aissami has been under investigation by the United States for his alleged activities in drug trafficking since 2015.[23] Rafael Isea, the preceding governor of Aragua, stated that El Aissami was allegedly paid off by drug kingpin Walid Makled (es) in order to receive drug shipments in Venezuela.[24] The Gatestone Institute has stated that Wakled himself explained how he would make payments to El Aissami through his brother in order to receive concessions.[15]

Terrorism network allegations[edit]

According to The Wall Street Journal in 2014, El Aissami has been described as "one part master of Middle-Eastern networking, one part honorary Cuban revolutionary, and one part highly ambitious chavista."[6] His connections to Cuba and Iran were highlighted by The Wall Street Journal as well as the Center for a Secure Free Society (SFS) by 2014.[6] He was recognized as one of the key figures of the Venezuelan government noted in the SFS report, who allegedly "developed a sophisticated financial network and multi-level networks as a criminal-terrorist pipeline to bring Islamic militants to Venezuela and neighboring countries, and to send illicit funds from Latin America to the Middle East." The alleged "pipeline" consists of 40 shell companies which have bank accounts in Venezuela, Panama, Curacao, St. Lucia, Miami and Lebanon. Tarek El Aissami's father Zaidan El Amin El Aissami, who is also known as Carlos Zaidan, was also an alleged military associate of Saddam Hussein.[7][8] Former Vice President José Vicente Rangel, who served under Hugo Chavez, denounced the SFS study, stating that it was a "combined campaign" by SFS and the Canadian government to attack Venezuela, though Ben Rowswell, the Canadian ambassador in Venezuela, denied the accusations by Rangel.[25] Moreover, the Gatestone Institute has also highlighted his connection to Hezbollah.[15]

According to New York County District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau, while El Aissami was head of Onidex, Venezuela's passport and naturalization agency, he provided passports to Hamas and Hezbollah members. He also stated that it was possible that El Aissami was recruiting Arab Venezuelans to train under Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.[16]

Personal life[edit]

Prior to his participation in dialogue between the opposition and Venezuelan government as well as his appointment to the vice presidency, members of El Aissami's family, including his father and mother, traveled to stay in the United States for unknown reasons in late-October 2016.[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "¿Quién es Tareck El Aissami, el nuevo vicepresidente de Venezuela?". Telesur (in Spanish). 4 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  2. ^ "الوزير طارق العيسمي نائبا لرئيس جمهورية فنزويلا". Al Amama. Retrieved 18 January 2015. 
  3. ^ PANET | سوري الأصل من السويداء يصبح حاكم ولاية بفنزويلا (Arabic)
  4. ^ a b http://tareck.psuv.org.ve/biografia/
  5. ^ Ral, Dahir (24 May 2012). "Tareck El Aisamí: Los hombres capaces son los que escriben la historia". Venezolana de Televisión. Archived from the original on October 14, 2012. Retrieved 16 October 2012.  (Archive)
  6. ^ a b c d e Mary Anastasia O'Grady, The Iran-Cuba-Venezuela Nexus: The West underestimates the growing threat from radical Islam in the Americas., The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2014
  7. ^ a b "Venezuela, el principal nexo de Hezbollah para su ingreso a América del Norte". Infobae. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Maria Delgado, Antonio (10 September 2014). "Venezuela, trampolin del Hezbola". El Nuevo Herald. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Tareck El Aissami, el político chavista compañero de Diosdado en el Cartel de los Soles". Diario Las Americas. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 8 January 2017. 
  10. ^ http://guardian.ng/news/venezuela-president-names-new-potential-successor/
  11. ^ a b c d Wyss, Jim (4 January 2017). "Venezuela's Maduro names controversial vice president — and potential successor". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  12. ^ "Tareck El Aissami, de gobernador a vicepresidente de la República". Efecto Cocuyo (in Spanish). 4 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  13. ^ "Chávez Turns to Venezuela Crime with New Council." Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved on April 10, 2009.
  14. ^ (Spanish) ABN, 9 September 2008, Tarek El Aissami se desempeñará como nuevo titular del MIJ
  15. ^ a b c d Anna Mahjar-Barducci, Venezuelan Minister Hangs Out With Hezbollah, Gatestone Institute, February 11, 2011
  16. ^ a b Morgenthau, Robert M. (8 September 2009). "Morgenthau: The Link Between Iran and Venezuela -- A Crisis in the Making?". Latin American Herald Tribune. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  17. ^ "El Aissami: EEUU es la verdadera amenaza". La Patilla. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  18. ^ "Para El Aissami entre más pobreza tenga Venezuela más lealtad se tendrá a la revolución". La Patilla. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  19. ^ a b "Venezuela Tees Up Its Next Dictator". The Wall Street Journal. 7 January 2017. Retrieved 9 January 2017. 
  20. ^ "Venezuela names economy czar, oil minister in cabinet shuffle", Reuters, 4 January 2017.
  21. ^ a b "Tareck El Aissami, el chavista más rechazado por la oposición". El País (in Spanish). 5 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  22. ^ http://gradadigital.com/home/aragua-anuncio-oficialmente-a-tareck-el-aissami-como-nuevo-fichaje-para-el-clausura/
  23. ^ Kurmanaev, Anatoly (5 January 2017). "Venezuelan Leader Nicolás Maduro Shakes Up Cabinet". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2017. 
  24. ^ DeCórdoba, José; Forero, Juan (18 May 2015). "Venezuelan Officials Suspected of Turning Country into Global Cocaine Hub; U.S. probe targets No. 2 official Diosdado Cabello, several others, on suspicion of drug trafficking and money laundering". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  25. ^ Siekierski, BJ (21 October 2014). "In Venezuela, Canadian envoy takes to Twitter to refute conspiracy theories". iPolitics. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  26. ^ "Tension Grows Between Administration and Congress". Stratfor. Retrieved 13 January 2017. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Aristóbulo Istúriz
Vice President of Venezuela
2017-present
Incumbent
Preceded by
Rafael Isea
Governor of Aragua
2012-2017
Succeeded by
Vacant
Preceded by
Ramón Rodríguez Chacín
Minister of Interior and Justice
2008–2012
Succeeded by
Néstor Reverol