U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard made new surprising remarks on Friday in which she once again supported Syrian President Bashar Assad, calling him and the Iraqi premier “the most genuine people in their efforts to fight terrorism.”
The Hawaiian Democratic Representative who was being interviewed by CNN, according to almasdarnews, criticized U.S. policies of regime change in Syria saying she is ‘surprised’ by the media coverage of the Middle East crises. She said there are no moderate rebels in Syria but there are terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham, and ISIS who are being provided support by the United States and other allies like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar to topple the Syrian president.
“I believe the most genuine people in their efforts to fight terrorism right now are the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Syrian President Bashar Assad. We cannot ignore the great efforts of the Russian President Putin in supporting these two countries in fighting terrorist groups such as ISIS and al-Nusra,” asserted Gabbard. “The United States draws a distinction between terrorists, dividing them into good and bad terrorists.”
The U.S lawmaker had a seven-day trip to Syria and Lebanon in January where she met and talked with many Syrian refugees, Syrian opposition leaders, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government, and also some Christian clergymen of the war-stricken city of Aleppo.
Gabbard called the regime change war ‘counterproductive’ saying it does not serve America’s interest or the interest of the Syrian people.
Upon her return, Gabbard released a statement in defending herself saying “Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance, it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.”
“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer,” Gabbard stated.
Later in February, her Stop Arming Terrorists Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Rand Paul. The bipartisan legislation would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and would prohibit the government from funneling money and weapons to terrorists through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting them.
Although an Iraq War veteran, Gabbard was against the invasion of Iraq. She said in late 2012, “I was against the war in Iraq. We never should have gone there in the first place.” She believes that the United States’ victory conditions in Iraq were not been clearly defined. In 2014 she voted against renewed U.S. military engagement in Iraq.”
Representative Tulsi Gabbard called again for the US to stop aiding terrorists like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, while her guest at the presidential address to Congress, a Kurdish refugee activist, called for an end to the US policy of “regime change in Syria.”
While many Democrats invited immigrants as their guests for President Donald Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday, Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, hosted Tima Kurdi, whose 3-year-old nephew drowned on the shores of Turkey in September 2015. Photos of Alan Kurdi’s body quickly became the symbol of Syrian refugees’ plight – and led the US to step up efforts to overthrow the Syrian government, actually magnifying their suffering.
On Wednesday, Tima Kurdi joined Gabbard at a press conference on Capitol Hill and called on Trump “to end the regime change in Syria.”
“The most important question is, how do we address the cause of these people fleeing their homes,” said Gabbard, pointing to the bill she submitted in this session of Congress. Her “Stop Arming Terrorists Act,” or HR 608, would ban the use of US taxpayers’ funds to aid terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
“For years, our government has been providing both direct and indirect support to these armed militant groups, who are working directly with or under the command of terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, all in their effort and fight to overthrow the Syrian government,” Gabbard told RT.
Gabbard traveled to Syria in January on a fact-finding mission, meeting with President Bashar Assad. She also visited Aleppo, liberated in December from Islamist rebels led by Jabhat Fatah Al-Sham, a re-branded Al-Qaeda affiliate formerly known as Jabhat Al-Nusra.
The Pentagon’s $500 million effort to train and equip “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight against IS and Damascus met with disaster in 2015, as the majority of the fighters either surrendered or defected to Al-Nusra, with all of their US-funded weaponry. In the end, the program produced only “five or six” trainees, to the consternation of Congress.
With that fiasco in mind, Gabbard propose the first draft of her bill in December 2016. Representative Tom Garrett (R-Virginia), a US Army veteran, spoke out in support of HR 608 and said that the goal of US policy in Syria should be peace.
“Tulsi understands that arming the so-called ‘rebels’ in Syria has only led to more bloodshed, more suffering, and created more refugees,” Tima Kurdi said in a statement on Tuesday. “A military solution in Syria is not the answer. I hope that President Trump will stop arming terrorists and commit to a political solution in Syria—it is the only way to restore peace.”
Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim