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Hugo Chávez 'evil axis' tour: Looking for love in all the wrong places?

The Venezuelan leader gave Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi a warm hug yesterday during his 11-day tour to Russia, Belarus, Syria, Algeria, Libya, and Iran.

By Matthew ClarkStaff writer / September 2, 2009



It's like that old country song: "Lookin' for love in all the wrong places. Lookin' for love." (Or as Eddie Murphy would say in his classic SNL skit, "wookin pa nub.")

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That's what Venezuelan firebrand Hugo Chávez appears to be doing this week on an 11-day trip that trip takes him to Russia, Belarus, Syria, Algeria, Libya, and Iran.

They may be the wrong places only as far as the US is concerned. (It was, after all, Mr. Chavez who joked that his trip would be to the "evil axis" countries.) But for Chávez and his assortment of less-than-US-friendly hosts, the chemistry may be just right.

In fact, Chávez gave Col. Muammar Qaddafi a warm hug as he was welcomed as the guest of honor during festivities to ring in the 40th anniversary of the Libyan strongman's coup.

Chávez also said he's "longing" to go to Damascus on Thursday to see his friend, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. There Chávez should be sure to feel the love. Earlier this year, Chávez was ranked as Arabs' top favorite world leader for his strong anti-Israel and anti-US stances, according to one respected survey.

What will he do in Syria?

"We will press ahead with strengthening relations according to the road map we put forward with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," said Chávez.

Chávez then heads to Iran on Saturday to discuss bilateral energy agreements, among other things – including, perhaps, their shared disdain for US "hegemony." Chávez and Mr. Ahmadinejad have visited each other's respective countries many times in the past few years. Chávez was one of the first leaders to congratulate Ahmadinejad on his June election victory.

Among the handful of other nations to congratulate Ahmadinejad on winning an election that was, by most accounts, deeply flawed was tiny Belarus.

That nation is run by "Europe's last dictator," Alexander Lukashenko, who was banned from entering the European Union and the US for his crackdown on opposition leaders a few years ago.

It's also where Chávez will wrap up his foreign tour.

Yeah, I think he'll feel the love.

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