Will there be a US military intervention in Venezuela?

We discuss Venezuela with Juan Guaido’s UK envoy and ask Iyad el-Baghdadi about a potential threat from Saudi Arabia.

In this week’s UpFront, we discuss the political crisis in Venezuela with self-declared president Juan Guaido‘s envoy to London Vanessa Neumann.

In the Reality Check, we shed light on alternative ways to win the so-called war on drugs.

And in our special interview, Palestinian pro-democracy activist Iyad el-Baghdadi discusses why he thinks he may have been the target of a threat from Saudi Arabia.

El-Baghdadi was placed under protective custody in Norway this month following a CIA tip that his life was in danger from the kingdom.

Guaido’s UK Envoy: Transition to democracy ‘harder than it looks’

Norway stepped into the fray that is Venezuela this week, when it emerged Oslo was hosting talks between officials from the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition led by Guaido.

The talks are the latest attempt to resolve a crisis that has hit a stalemate, following months of street protests, US sanctions and a failed opposition attempt to overthrow Maduro.

Guaido’s UK representative Neumann says there’s a huge support for the opposition leader. “You see the people come out and weep with joy at the sight of Guaido,” she said.

When asked why she thinks the overthrow of Maduro is proving harder than initially thought, Neumann said it was due to the economic power of the military.

“The military is earning $8.8bn a year in illicit trade and the trafficking of narcotics, the trafficking of gold, diesel, even food. Even the very food that people are eating, because they have demolished the production economy. That is also being used by the regime. And to exert social control,” she said.

When asked whether Guaido wants the US military to intervene, Neumann said it was Guaido’s decision.

When pressed on whether US military involvement, considering its legacy in the region, would bring democracy or human rights to Venezuela, Neumann argued that “times have changed”.

“I think, the continent has changed … the attitude of the United States to the region has changed,” she said.

This week’s Headliner, Juan Guaido’s representative to the UK Vanessa Neumann.

Is the so-called US ‘war on drugs’ really working?

The arrest and conviction of Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was hailed by US officials as a “victory for the American people”.

But on the day his trial ended, US officials seized the largest amount of fentanyl ever recovered in the US.

Despite El Chapo’s arrest, drugs continue to pour into the US. So is it time to look at alternative ways to win the war on drugs?

In this Reality Check, we ask whether Portugal’s radical drug policy is the way to go.

Iyad el-Baghdadi: ‘The idea of giving up is unimaginable’

Known for tweeting sarcastic and stinging critiques of unelected Arab leaders, Palestinian pro-democracy activist Iyad el-Baghdadi rose to prominence in 2011 during the Arab Spring.

In April, officials in Norway, where he got asylum, placed him in protective custody. They had received a warning from the CIA of a possible threat against el-Baghdadi from Saudi Arabia.

El-Baghdadi is a vocal critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and has worked with the late journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October.

El-Baghdadi said he believes the threats against him are related to the work he was doing with Khashoggi.

“I think this is about more than criticism; this is about actual projects that I was involved in that I think were highly sensitive and seem to have hit a nerve,” el-Baghdadi said.

El-Baghdadi didn’t go into much detail about the exact nature of the projects, but said the threats would not stop him from continuing his work.

“This is an intergenerational struggle. The idea of stopping, the idea of giving up, it’s simply unimaginable.”

This week’s Special Interview, pro-democracy activist, Iyad el-Baghdadi.

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