In a rare and unprecedented speech delivered on the House floor just two days after the nation memorialized 9/11, Democratic Hawaiian Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Thursday slammed Washington's longtime support to anti-Assad jihadists in Syria, while also sounding the alarm over the current build-up of tensions between the US and Russia over the Syria crisis.
She called on Congress to condemn what she called the Trump Administration’s protection of al-Qaeda in Idlib and slammed Washington's policies in Syria as "a betrayal of the American people" — especially the victims and families that perished on 9/11.
Considering that Congresswoman Gabbard herself is an Iraq war veteran and current Army reserve officer who served in the aftermath of 9/11, it's all the more power and rare that a sitting Congress member would make such forceful comments exposing the hypocrisy and contradictions of US policy.
She called out President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence by name on the House floor in her speech:
“Two days ago, President Trump and Vice President Pence delivered solemn speeches about the attacks on 9/11, talking about how much they care about the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on our country. But, they are now standing up to protect the 20,000 to 40,000 al-Qaeda and other jihadist forces in Syria, and threatening Russia, Syria, and Iran, with military force if they dare attack these terrorists."
And in perhaps a completely unprecedented moment, the Congresswoman accused America's Commander-in-Chief during her floor speech for acting as "the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists".
Interestingly she has elsewhere previously leveled the same blistering criticism of the Obama administration during media interviews for its "regime change policies" in Syria.
“This is a betrayal of the American people, especially the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on 9/11 and their families, first responders, and my brothers and sisters in uniform who have been killed or wounded in action and their families. For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned by every Member of Congress.”
Gabbard has for especially the last couple of years been an outspoken critic of US policies in Syria, and drew controversy in early 2017 when she traveled to Damascus to meet privately with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The move met with an icy reception among fellow Congressional Democrats and raised questions over possible violation of the Logan Act.
But interestingly though Thursday's floor speech evoked President Trump and his latest threats to intervene militarily against Assad and Russia should chemical weapons be used in Idib, Gabbard is actually echoing the very stance that Trump took on the campaign trail and prior on Syria, where he also described the Syrian rebel insurgency as being led and filled by terrorists and jihadists in multiple informal statements.
Trump 2013 vs Trump 2018 on Syria...
Trump and Gabbard had even once met to discuss Syria policy at a private meeting at Trump Tower in November of 2016 just ahead of then president-elect Trump being sworn into office. At the time the two appeared to be in complete agreement over Syria policy, after which Gabbard said of the meeting, "I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government—a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families."
The following summer President Trump allegedly shut down the CIA's clandestine efforts for overthrowing the Damascus government, a covert program called 'Timber Sycamore', after reports said he was increasingly disturbed by the brutal and jihadist nature of the armed opposition.
All the way up until April 2018, he had appeared to be pushing toward withdrawing the over 2,000 US troops from Syria, against which advisers and neocon hawkish policy wonks vehemently pushed back. Trump had proposed, “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out. We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”
However just days after that statement video emerged from Idlib purporting to show an Assad sarin attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, to which Trump responded with a brief Tomahawk missile strike on a largely abandoned Syrian military airport in the center of the country.
The pro-regime change interventionists in the administration had perhaps won out, as Trump the following April launched an even bigger attack on Damascus following more unverified opposition claims of another gas attack.
And now Congresswoman Gabbard appears to be calling Trump out and back to that original policy path of military withdrawal and non-intervention in Syria.