U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard continues to defend herself after returning to Washington D.C. from a weeklong trip to Syria where she met with the war-torn country’s president.
Congresswoman Gabbard joined us on Wake Up 2day this morning and reiterated that she originally had no intention of sitting down with Basar al-Assad but changed her mind when the opportunity arose.
Gabbard says there’s no possibility of a viable peace agreement unless Bashar Assad is part of the conversation.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is calling on Congress and the Trump administration to halt U.S. support of the regime change war in Syria.
The Congresswoman from Hawaii returned to Washington, D.C. after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut.
During her trip, she met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “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,” Gabbard said in a statement.
Assad has been called a brutal dictator by President Obama, and was accused of targeting and using biological warfare against his own citizens.
“I felt it was important that if we profess to truly care about the Syrian people, about their suffering, then we’ve got to be able to meet with anyone that we need to if there is a possibility that we could achieve peace, and that’s exactly what we talked about,” she told CNN.
Gabbard was asked if she had concerns about her meeting, giving Assad credibility he may not have had before.
“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact that he is the president of Syria. In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possible viability of a peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him,” she replied.
“My focus, my commitment is on ending this war that has caused so much suffering to these Syrian people, to these children, to these families, many of whom I met on this trip. It’s important to stay focused and do what is in their best interest and in our best interest, and doing what is necessary to make that happen,” Gabbard said.
Her meeting is not sitting well with other members of Congress who have been highly critical of Assad’s regime.
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R, Illinois, posted on social media: “To say I’m disgusted would be an understatement. By meeting with the mass murderer of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Tulsi Gabbard has legitimized his dictatorship and in turn, legitimized his genocide against the Syrian people…”
Gabbard also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.
“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.
“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 said in a statement.
The Congresswoman is calling for support of the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), which would prohibit the use of government funds to assist Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations.
“We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS,” Gabbard said.
U.S. foreign policies, including those involving Syria and terror groups, were a main point of discussion when Gabbard met with then-President-elect Donald Trump last November.
“We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people,” she said then.