WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 19, 2015) — U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-8), both members of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday to end U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad.
Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran, said the intent of the bill is to “Bring an immediate end to the illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.”
“The U.S. is waging two wars in Syria,” Gabbard said. “The first is the war against ISIS and other Islamic extremists, which Congress authorized after the terrorist attack on 9/11. The second war is the illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.
“The war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria — which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world,’ she added. “Also, the war to overthrow Assad is illegal because Congress never authorized it.”
Scott said, “Our primary mission should be the war against ISIS, al Qaeda, and radical Islamic extremists that have operations both inside and outside of Syria and Iraq. Those groups have carried out attacks on American allies, and are currently threatening attacks on our homeland. This represents a clear and present danger to our citizens, and I support eliminating these radical Islamic terrorists through any means necessary. Working to remove Assad at this stage is counter-productive to what I believe our primary mission should be.”
Gabbard listed 10 reasons the U.S. must end its war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad:
• Because if we succeed in overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad, it will open the door for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other Islamic extremists to take over all of Syria. There will be genocide and suffering on a scale beyond our imagination. These Islamic extremists will take over all the weaponry, infrastructure, and military hardware of the Syrian army and be more dangerous than ever before.
• Because overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad is the goal of ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other Islamic extremist groups. We should not be allying ourselves with these Islamic extremists by helping them achieve their goal because it is against the security interests of the United States and all of civilization.
• Because the money and weapons the CIA is providing to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad are going directly or indirectly into the hands of the Islamic extremist groups, including al-Qaeda affiliates, al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, and others who are the actual enemies of the United States. These groups make up close to 90 percent of the so-called opposition forces, and are the most dominant fighters on the ground.
• Because our efforts to overthrow Assad has increased and will continue to increase the strength of ISIS and other Islamic extremists, thus making them a bigger regional and global threat.
• Because this war has exacerbated the chaos and carnage in Syria and, along with the terror inflicted by ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups fighting to take over Syria, continues to increase the number of Syrians forced to flee their country.
• Because we should learn from our past mistakes in Iraq and Libya that U.S. wars to overthrow secular dictators (Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi) cause even more chaos and human suffering and open the door for Islamic extremists to take over in those countries.
• Because the U.S. has no credible government or government leader ready to bring order, security, and freedom to the people of Syria.
• Because even the ‘best case’ scenario — that the U.S. successfully overthrows the Syrian government of Assad—would obligate the United States to spend trillions of dollars and the lives of American service members in the futile effort to create a new Syria. This is what we have been trying to do in Iraq for twelve years, and we still have not succeeded. The situation in Syria will be much more difficult than in Iraq.
• Because our war against the Syrian government of Assad is interfering with our being one-pointedly focused on the war to defeat ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the other Islamic extremists who are our actual enemy.
• Because our war to overthrow the Assad government puts us in direct conflict with Russia and increases the likelihood of war between the United States and Russia and the possibility of another world war.”
“To destroy ISIS will take international alliances,” Gabbard said. “If we are serious about defeating ISIS and solving the refugee problem, we’ll work in partnership with Russia, France, and anyone else who is serious about destroying ISIS and affiliated Islamic extremist organizations worldwide.”
“The problem is, because the U.S. is trying to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and Russia is supporting the government of Assad, it is impossible for us to have an effective, cooperative relationship with Russia in our mutual fight against ISIS,” she added. “Our focus on overthrowing Assad is interfering with our ability to destroy ISIS.”
“We must immediately end the illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad and ally ourselves with any countries willing to focus on destroying the Islamic extremists who pose a genuine threat to civilization,” Gabbard said.