Elliott Abrams, the US special envoy for Venezuela has recently been appointed as the new coordinator of the US government's anti-Iranian policies. He replaced the US President Trump's Iran envoy, Brian Hook.

Iran Press/commentary: Hook had been tasked with executing Trump's "maximum pressure" policy toward Iran, working closely with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. That strategy has deepened tensions and thus far failed to force Iran back to the negotiating table, as Trump had hoped for.

Hook said  to the New York Times that Iran is now weaker: “Deal or no deal, we have been very successful.”

But the replacement showed that all of Brian Hooke's strategies, which were designed to bring the Islamic Republic of Iran to its knees under maximum pressure, had failed.

Elliot Abrams is a jew and an American lawyer and author who has served in a variety of foreign policy positions for several US Presidents.

He is currently the US special envoy for Venezuela; as assuming the new role he will also serve in his former position.

Almost immediately after Venezuelan Juan Guaido declared himself the country's interim president on January 23, the United States led a chorus of other countries in recognizing the opposition leader as Venezuela's legitimate interim president.

President Nicolas Maduro, who enjoys the support of the highest ranks of the military, as well as China, Turkey, and Russia, quickly hit back, assuring his supporters that he was the country's legitimate president, and accusing Guaido and the US of staging a coup.

Days later, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Elliott Abrams, a hawkish former Republican diplomat, to handle US policy towards the South American country.

Elliott Abrams replaced Brian Hook while he was unsuccessful in his previous position and could not replace Maduro with Juan Guaido.

Abrams is a former US diplomat who served as assistant secretary of state during the administration of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. A neoconservative, Abrams has long advocated an activist US role in the world. He also served in the government of George W Bush, first as a Middle East expert on the National Security Council and later as a global democracy strategy adviser. 

Abrams is a member of the Leo Strauss school and, along with Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pearl and other Pentagon counterparts, managed a futile invasion to Iraq after 9/11.

They believe in "Creative Destruction" and at the American Enterprise Institute, with the intellectual support of people like Bill Christol, they planned to attack 10 countries, including Iran.

In his previous government roles, Abrams was known as a hawk on Latin America, with his critics pointing to his involvement in controversial US decisions in Central America, as well as his reported links to the 2002 failed coup attempt against the late Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chavez.

In 1991, he pleaded guilty to two counts of misleading Congress about the Reagan administration's efforts to help the Nicaraguan guerrillas (known as the Contras) during a period when Congress had banned such aid. He was later pardoned by George H.W Bush.

A decade earlier, he sought to discredit witness accounts of a massacre in the indigenous El Salvador community of El Mozote and surrounding villages, in which Salvadoran troops rounded up men, women, and children, gunned them down, and set their homes on fire.

Some 1,000 people were killed by soldiers of the Atlacatl Battalion, who had recently been trained by the US. During the country's 12-year civil war, the US also sent billions of dollars to the Salvadoran government.

According to Human Rights Watch, Abrams "artfully distorted several issues in order to discredit the public accounts of the massacre" during a Senate hearing on the massacre.

The rights organization said this included his insistence that the casualty figures couldn't have been as high because only 300 people were living in El Mozote at the time. His comments came despite witness accounts that said about 500 people were living in El Mozote and report that the massacre occurred in the community and surrounding villages.

Abrams also defended Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who oversaw a campaign in which thousands of people, mainly from the country's indigenous communities, were either massacred or disappeared. He at one time suggested that Rios Montt "brought considerable progress" for human rights in the country. 

"We think that kind of progress needs to be rewarded and encouraged," Abrams told US public television in 1983 as he defended the sale of millions of dollars in technology and helicopter and airplane spare parts to the Guatemalan government.

Rios Montt was later convicted of genocide. That conviction was overturned, but the former dictator died before a partial retrial concluded when a Guatemalan tribunal for a second time determined the state had committed genocide under Rios Montt's rule.

During his time in the George. W. Bush's White House, Abrams also reportedly played a role in the 2002 failed coup attempt against Chavez in Venezuela.

'Committed to the mass killing in service of US interests'

Fast forward more than a decade, and Abrams's influence is back in the White House.

Abrams recently brushed aside past convictions and criticisms, saying that he doesn't believe the Iran-Contra scandal will be an issue in his current post.

"We are not focused on the events of the 1980s," he recently told reporters. "We are focused on the events of 2019."

But to critics, his appointment only serves to further the US' history of intervention, particularly in Latin America.

Abrams "was always very passionate and committed," investigative journalist Allan Nairn, who covered Central America extensively during the 1980s, told Democracy Now.

"Committed to what?" Nairn said. "Committed to the mass killing in the service of what could be defined as US interests or even US whim, because, in fact, although it was being portrayed by Abrams and others at the time as a battle to prevent El Salvador and Guatemala and Nicaragua from becoming wings of the Soviet Union, anyone familiar with the facts on the ground knew that that was ridiculous. That was not at all what was at stake."

Unsurprisingly, in the midst of the Trump administration's efforts to extend Iran's arms embargo, Abrams has been chosen to lead the effort. After all, Abrams's experience in politics and his hostility to Iran seems to be greater than Brian Hook.

Now after the resignation of a politician with so-called historic results countering Iran. It remains to be seen what Hook's successor will do, the guy who has failed record to manage a coup in Venezuela.


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