U.S. Senator Marco Rubio published a graphic tweet on Sunday, showing a before-and-after picture of deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in between messages aimed at the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Gaddafi had been deposed in 2011, after 42 years of rule over the country, following a U.S. led intervention by NATO forces. During the conflict, rebel forces had located the leader and murdered him in public.
Libya has since been locked in a civil war that has divided the country between two rival governments in Tripoli and Tobruk, a conflict that has killed thousands of people and brought continued instability to the country.
The tweet, which did not contain any written message and was posted in between two other tweets condemning Maduro, had been criticized by many as a thinly veiled threat of a military intervention in Venezuela.
"You really have to be a special breed of warmongering, interventionist loon to think this tweet is a good idea. Or to think Libya, Iraq, Syria etc were good and should be repeated," Doug Stafford, a political strategist, tweeted in response to Rubio.
It also comes hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Maduro's days in Venezuela "are numbered."
Rubio, a Florida senator of Cuban descent, is one of the most outspoken voices on Venezuela and a supporter of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim leader of the country last month.
Rubio's post also comes after at least four people were killed and 200 others injured during anti-government protests in Venezuela. Fifty-one people were also arrested as they clashed with security forces at the Colombian border.
Venezuela has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.
Tensions escalated when Juan Guaido, who heads Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself acting president Jan. 23, a move which was supported by the U.S. and many European and Latin American countries.
Turkey, Russia, Iran, Cuba, China, and Bolivia reiterate support for Venezuelan President Maduro, who vowed to cut all diplomatic and political ties with the U.S. following the diplomatic spat.