FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2017
The Syrian American Council, America's largest and oldest grassroots Syrian community organization, condemns in the strongest terms possible Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard's (D-HI) recent secret trip to Assad-controlled Syria on a so-called "fact-finding mission." Her trip, which was the first by a U.S. lawmaker since 2011, provides dangerous legitimization to a brutal regime that has caused the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.
Gabbard's positions on Syria have two fundamental flaws. First, she wrongly believes that U.S. efforts to overthrow Assad are the cause for 400,000 deaths and massive displacement in Syria. However, impartial organizations and bodies such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations have repeatedly stressed that the Assad regime is behind most of the death and destruction in Syria. Assad's persistence in power is the root of the problem. Second, Gabbard wrongly uses an "enemy of my enemy" logic to state that because Assad forces are fighting ISIS, the U.S. should not be fighting Assad forces. But the bulk of the anti-ISIS fight in western Syria has been conducted not by the Assad regime, but the Syrian opposition. Syrian rebel forces have sacrificed thousands of fatalities fighting ISIS in Aleppo, the Damascus suburbs, and southern Syria. Assad forces, have consistently focused their fire on moderate rebels and civilians.
Gabbard believes that Islamic extremists will take over if Assad falls. But civilians in rebel-held Idlib today held democratic elections for a city council. Meanwhile Assad has only survived a popular uprising due to massive interventions by brutal international terrorists such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah, the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba, and the Afghani Fatimiyun Brigades. "Gabbard's support for Bashar al-Assad and other vicious dictators flies in the face of everything America stands for," said Mirna Barq, the President of the Syrian American Council. "While she defames a popular revolution she never considers that Syrians have the same basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."