Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard didn't hold anything back in her interview on CNN.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic Representative from Hawaii, recently visited Syria in secret for four days and returned to the U.S. with a message based on what she saw. She appeared on CNN to speak with Jake Tapper on Wednesday and essentially brief him on what Syrian people told her and also to discuss her impromptu meeting with Syria’s President Assad. In the interview, Gabbard said,
“[The Syrian people] expressed happiness and joy at seeing an American walking through their streets. But they also asked why the U.S. and its allies are providing support and arms to terrorist groups like al-Nusra, al-Qaida or al-Sham, ISIS who are on the ground there, raping, kidnapping, torturing and killing the Syrian people.”
For several years, Obama’s Administration has been touting their financial and armaments backing of ‘moderate rebels,’ who are supposed to be rebel forces that are not as bad or inhumane as al-Qaida, ISIS, and the like. Though the idea that moderate rebels exists has been essentially debunked by video footage of these rebels beheading people and blowing up evacuation buses for humanitarians, there have been no U.S. officials that have visited the area since the war broke out to discuss these groups. That’s what makes Gabbard’s visit so unique and important.
Gabbard said that the plight of Syrian people and their country has weighed on her heart for several years and that this is what prompted her to make a secret trek to the suffering nation. The U.S. has been backing these so-called ‘moderate rebels’ for years as a way to show support for overthrowing Assad as president, but many of the provided weapons have made their way to extreme groups, like ISIS. Gabbard said of her discussions with citizens,
“They asked me, why is the United States and its allies supporting these terrorist groups who are destroying Syria when it was al Qaida who attacked the United States on 9/11, not Syria. I didn’t have an answer for them…. There is a number of different, other groups — all of them essentially are fighting alongside, with, or under the command of the strongest group on the ground that’s trying to overthrow Assad.”
According to Gabbard, what’s most frightening to the Syrian people is the rebels winning the war and taking over the government, only to wreak more havoc with continuous assaults against citizens. Though Gabbard recognized that President Assad has done horrible things, such as using chemical weapons against his own citizens in an effort to put out the fires of their protesting and hostility, she acknowledged that his power means it’s necessary to open up a dialogue with him. As Tapper pointed out, Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people rather than listening to their wants and needs and is, in the end, responsible for the breakout of the civil war and the fleeing of his people. Gabbard responded by saying,
“Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” Tulsi replied. “In order for any peace agreement, in order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him,” she said. “The Syrian people will determine his outcome and what happens with their government and their future, but our focus, my focus, my commitment is on ending this war that has caused so much suffering to the Syrian people.”
What she means is that it’s unfair for the U.S. to intervene and take the side of the people that all of the civilians are against. In the end, it’s the Syrians that will decide theirs and Assad’s fate when the civil war is over and that an agreement can be reached after the war has come to a stop, not during. Though her opinion may be unpopular, they are based on her very real experiences with Syrian civilians, who are extremely confused at the term ‘moderate rebels’ and affirm that “there are no moderate rebels.”
The war is far from over, but a new administration could mean an entirely different approach to the war for the U.S. This could mean siding with Russia and Iran by backing President Assad’s attack on the rebels or it could, however unlikely it may be, mean pulling support for either side of the war whatsoever.
Watch the full interview below.
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