Did Tulsi Gabbard convey a message to Assad on behalf of Trump

by omouggos

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman from Hawaii, is one of the few Democrats that has not supported President Trump’s missile strike against Assad’s al-Shayrat airbase. She considers Trump’s actions to be “unauthorized” and “illegal,” as she is skeptical that Assad gassed civilians at Khan Sheikhoun, and has demanded that the Trump administration present evidence to the American people and congress proving Assad’s guilt.1 For her ability and courage to think independently, Democrats are now turning against her.2

Due to the geopolitical and media commotion following the al-Shayrat strike, people may have forgotten that Gabbard made a four day fact finding trip to Syria, during which she met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.3 What is most interesting about this trip are reports that Gabbard conveyed a message from Trump to Assad.

This revelation was made by Ibrahim Al-Amin in an article published in Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar. According to Al-Amin (emphasis mine):4

“After [Trump’s] victory in the election [and prior to his inauguration], he and his team examined whether Gabbard could be talked into accepting a central role in his new administration. During the contacts and deliberations [with Gabbard], Trump discovered her intention to visit Syria, and asked her to postpone the visit until after his inauguration, since he had something to say to her [on the matter]. Gabbard agreed and met with President Elect Trump on November 21 for over 2.5 hours… During the meeting, [Trump] asked her to outline her view on the situation in Syria and Iraq. After hearing what she had to say, he told her he agreed with her analysis…

Trump asked her: ‘Will you meet with [Bashar] Al-Assad in Damascus?’ She replied: ‘Most likely!’ He said: ‘OK. Ask him if he is willing to call me [and tell him] that I’m willing to call him on the phone, but he must know now that [our] main collaboration will be in the fight against ISIS. He [Assad] will see that the demand to oust him does not concern me, and that this matter will gradually disappear from the discourse. As for direct ties [to the American administration] and the lifting of sanctions, these two things take time, and the important thing is that we know [Assad’s] course of action and the extent to which his is willing to collaborate with us separately from the Russians and Iranians. We must shift our policy towards Al-Assad. A direct embrace [of Assad] could help. The man survived in his role. Reality indicates that if we wish to effectively deal with ISIS, we have to hold ties with him [Assad].’”

If we are to believe Al-Amin’s claims–it should be noted that he is editor-in-chief of the Al Akhbar daily, which is close to Hezbollah and Assad–then Trump was wanting to work with Assad to fight ISIL and in exchange for this cooperation against a common enemy, he would not pursue the ousting of Assad. It is interesting that Al-Amin published this article after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement that the “the longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people” and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s “Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.5 This shows that Al-Amin’s claims were consistent with Trump’s past stance towards Assad.

On twitter Gabbard has denied Al-Amin’s claims stating “The exchange described in this story never happened. Claims suggesting otherwise are false.6 This denial prompted Al-Amin to challenge Gabbard to a televised debate as “Only then the audience will find out whatever happened, and it will be revealed who is telling the truth and who is concealing the truth… and I am waiting.

I doubt Gabbard will accept Al-Amin’s disputative challenge, so alas we will never know the truth whether she conveyed the alleged message from Trump to Assad. However, if she did, then it illustrates how abruptly and erratically Trump completely reversed his position towards Assad.

O Mouggos

References

[1] http://www.businessinsider.com/tulsi-gabbard-syria-chemical-weapons-attack-assad-trump-regime-change-2017-4 , http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/07/rep-gabbard-syria-missile-strike-illegal-and-unconstitutional.html

[2] http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-10/liberals-call-ouster-democrat-representative-after-she-questions-syria-attacks

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/tulsi-gabbard-lead-syria/

[4] https://www.memri.org/reports/editor-chief-lebanese-daily-close-hizbullah-and-assad-regime-president-trump-offered-call

[5] http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2017/03/30/Tillerson-Assad-s-long-term-status-to-be-decided-by-Syrian-people.html , http://www.presstv.ir/DetailFa/2017/03/30/516177/US-no-more-seeking-removal-of-Assad-Nikki-Haley

[6] https://www.memri.org/reports/al-akhbar-editor-ibrahim-al-amin-challenges-congresswoman-tulsi-gabbar-televised-debate

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