The atypical & unusual characteristics of regime changes in the recent past and the ongoing attempts to bring about regime changes in many countries have been trending across the world. With the recent impeachment of the outgoing Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and the ongoing attempt of ousting the South African President Jacob Zuma, the regime change efforts within many countries across the world backed by outside forces became ever clearer.
Efforts of regime change
Riots, street protests, strikes, demonstrations have increased recently in countries across the world, especially in countries within Latin America. Moreover, impeachment efforts have become a trend in those countries which have been increasingly practicing state mechanisms that are not in line with the contemporary nature of politics dominated by the West.
Most governments in Latin America find themselves vulnerable to destabilization. Without doubt, such destabilizations are instigated in order to make change of governments.
Many governments across the world face political polarization among the domestic political community; and such polarization, having the potential to destabilize the country, becomes one of the major headaches for the targeted governments. Moreover, attempts are being made to discredit the existing political institutions so as to foster chaos, which is the most useful context for regime change. The targeted governments are labelled and pictured as a threat to the development of the country. Such efforts put the legitimacy of the targeted governments in jeopardy.
Regime changes in recent past
Outside forces in Honduras and in Paraguay had been successful in overthrowing President Manuel Zelaya in 2009 and President Fernando Lugo in 2012 respectively. Both presidents were ousted by parliamentary majorities, with the widespread allegations that such ousting were facilitated from foreign corners. In Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff has been impeached on unverified charges, ignoring the fact that she came to power through legitimate means under the Constitution of Brazil.
In Argentina, Cristina Fernandez’s government was defeated in 2015 presidential election through several years of intense negative campaigns, which were allegedly controlled from foreign corners, against her government. Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, former Ukrainian President Victor Yanakovich and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa — all these heads of state, who had been increasingly coming closer to Sino-Russian political orbit, were ousted by atypical & unusual manner. Strong allegations had been made regarding the foreign involvements in these ousting.
On-going agitation for regime change
Domestic & international corners have been acting jointly to destabilize Venezuela. The Maduro government in Venezuela announced in February 2016 that it had stopped an attempted coup involving a consorted effort by Venezuelan Air Force officers, members of opposition political parties of Venezuela and some foreign corners. The government alleged that coup-plotters had plans to bomb the presidential palace, the national assembly and a television channel headquarter.
In Ecuador, a foreign-sponsored police mutiny in 2010 nearly succeeded in ousting the government of President Rafael Correa. The destabilization efforts against Ecuador & Venezuela continue till the day with violent street protests taking place at intervals.
Regime change efforts in South Africa
South Africa has been actively participating in all the platforms initiated and led by the Sino-Russian political orbit in order to reshape the world order. More interestingly, South Africa is among the five countries in BRICS bloc that is actively working to reshape the current world order. The current government of South Africa, under the leadership of Jacob Zuma, is known for its policies that do not heed to any foreign influence.
However, increasingly the government of Jacob Zuma has been facing immense challenges internationally and domestically. He recently survived an impeachment effort and there is every possibility that more of such impeachment efforts against him might take place in near future. Many analysts believe that Jacob Zuma’s pro-BRICS sentiment and his closeness with China & Russia are the genuine reasons behind the attempts of ousting him from presidency. Despite such efforts against him, President Zuma defended, during State of the Nation Address on February 2016, his policy of aligning with China & BRICS, and pointed out that Chinese investment in South Africa means jobs.
Effect of regime change on Latin unity
The solidarity among the Latin states is much stronger today than ever. Platforms for regional integration like the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are surely seen as an expression of struggle of all Latin countries to walk in the same path, together. Likeminded governments in Argentina (under former President Cristina Fernandez), Brazil (under impeached President Dilma Rouseff), Venezuela, Ecuador & the likes have been moving towards consolidating the Latin solidarity. These governments, at the same time, have been leaning more towards Sino-Russian political orbit.
However, the recent regime changes in Argentina & Brazil and attempts of regime change in other Latin American countries, including Venezuela would weaken the ongoing effort of Latin integration. Moreover, the solidarity among the Latin countries would also be weakened to a considerable extent. Furthermore, the increasing ‘closeness between Latin countries’ and the ‘China-Russia alliance’ would largely be hampered due to the regime changes that took place recently & due to ongoing efforts to change regimes.
Effect of regime change on BRICS
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are the members of the emergent BRICS bloc which has taken on the responsibility of reshaping the global capitalist order. However, India’s increasing closeness with the U.S. and the impeachment of Brazilian pro-BRICS President Dilma Rouseff, together with the regime change efforts in South Africa reflects that bad days are nearing for BRICS bloc. The changes in regimes within BRICS would make the bloc weaker to manoeuvre big geopolitical & geo-economic moves at the global level.
Also, changes in regimes within BRICS bloc would weaken the economic partnership between China, Brazil and South Africa, damaging China, the economic engine of BRICS and also isolating Russia, the military backbone of the bloc.
- As mobilization of huge financial, political and cultural resources are required to bring about regime change, it is alleged by many corners of the targeted Latin governments that such regime change attempts are facilitated by outside forces & extra-regional forces.
- Sino-Russian political orbit would largely be incapacitated and the vision of Sino-Russian global order might be jeopardized.
- The U.S. would regain much of its influence (over many countries and region around the world) that has been on decline for last few decades.
- However, regaining the status of “unipolar superpower” is not possible on the part of the U.S. as there will unlikely be a circumstance like that of the 1990s when there were no other power to challenge the U.S.’s superpower status.
- If either of the parties (between the West bloc and the non-West bloc), especially the one at the disadvantageous side, loses patience and goes for a desperate retrieval-attempt, there might well be a breakout of sub-regional, regional or, even, global military conflict.
Bahauddin Foizee is an international affairs analyst, and writes on Middle Eastern, greater Asia-Pacific & European geopolitics. Also a campaigner for environmental and social awareness, Bahauddin Foizee occasionally writes on environment and refugee issues.