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Hugo Chavez’s Mixed Legacy in the Middle East

The late president of Venezuela won the support of large numbers of Arabs for his anti-Israeli positions, but his stock dropped after the Arab Spring and his continued backing of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, writes Ali Hashem.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez delivers a speech during a visit to Sweida city, south of Damascus September 4, 2009. Sweida is the hometown of most of the Syrian immigrants who live in Venezuela. The poster in the background shows Chavez and Syria's President Bashar al-Assad .REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri    (SYRIA POLITICS) - RTR27FQG

"Our brother Hugo passed away." These could be the very words the Arab world used to circulate news of the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

For many Arabs, Chavez's death means almost as much to them as it does to his loyalists in Caracas. For those who loved him, the news had the impact of shock and awe even though they knew it was coming. The sorrow surrounding his death is not, however, comparable to the level of uncertainty palpable from the first days of his illness. In some quarters, there were fears that the death of Chavez would mean the end of the anti-imperialist alliance that stretches from the Middle East to Venezuela.

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