Gabbard’s Syria Visit Riles Congressional Hawks

Reps in Both Parties Lash Gabbard's Calls for Peace

by Jason Ditz, January 26, 2017

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D – HI) continues to be pilloried by Congressional hawks from both parties over her visit to Syria last week, with a number of representatives declaring the very idea of going to Syria and talking peace “reprehensible,” with one Congressional aide quoted claiming there was widespread “disgust” over the visit.

Gabbard’s 7-day visit, as part of a delegation which also included former Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D – OH), was sponsored by the Ohio-based Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services. Congressional officials have been quick to insist she wasn’t sent as part of any official Congressional delegation, though it is routine for Congressmen to take trips abroad funded by private groups.

Gabbard has long criticized the US arms smuggling operation to back Syrian rebel factions, noting a lot of the weapons end up with terrorists, and trying to ban the practice. President Trump is said to be opposed to the CIA smuggling program too, and he and Gabbard met shortly after the election.

Since Gabbard and Trump both have similar positions, there has been some speculation the visit was an unofficial one by the Trump Administration to test the waters. One Congressional aide was quoted declaring Gabbard’s position against arming terrorists as something you’d hear on Russian state media.

Most of the efforts to attack Gabbard for visiting Syria, and talking with President Assad about the possibility of peace, center on nothing specific that Gabbard did, as it doesn’t appear she violated any laws or even political norms in doing so. Rather, most seem to object to Gabbard’s support for peace in Syria at all, with multiple Congressional officials including in their comments demands for regime change in Syria as a precondition to peace.

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