Democrat 2020 presidential candidate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) told Breitbart News on Thursday that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad told her personally he agreed to international observers overseeing a democratic Syrian election and claimed there were “differing reports” on his use of chemical weapons.
Gabbard sat down with Breitbart News editor-in-chief Alex Marlow for an interview on Breitbart News Daily on Sirius XM Patriot 125.
The presidential candidate traveled to Syria in 2017 on a fact-finding missing that included a personal meeting with Assad in Damascus. She has repeatedly insisted that the United States should acknowledge Assad as the legitimate president of Syria despite the leader claiming his legitimacy from a 2014 wartime election in which he won nearly 90 percent of the vote that much of the free world dismissed as a “sham.”
Gabbard affirmed to Marlow that she regarded Assad as Syria’s legitimate head of state, who she called a “brutal dictator” in a CNN interview in August.
Asked about the fact that the Syrian people have not chosen Assad in a free and fair election, Gabbard said that she personally asked Assad while in Damascus if he would accept international observers and host another election to verify his legitimacy.
“This is something I asked him about when I met with him because there are Syrians who do feel that they have been disenfranchised … would he support and allow for not only democratically held elections, but for ones that have oversight of an international elections body,” Gabbard said, “and he agreed to that.”
In the two years since her visit, Assad has not organized a presidential election with international observers present.
Reacting to the ample evidence that Assad has used chemical weapons on civilians, a violation of international law, she suggested there were “differing reports” on the matter.
“I think the point that we need to stay focused on for the United States, and there are differing reports, and we’ve seen how the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] has had a second whistleblower come forward with disputing evidence about the actually the two specific chemical weapons attacks that spurred American military reaction,” she said, “and I think that that just points to the fact that we really do need evidence before we take action, before we put our troops in action.”
Gabbard was referring to a report published by the outlet Wikileaks last week that claimed an anonymous whistleblower from within the OPCW, an international watchdog group, had come forward claiming “irregular behavior” in the investigation of an alleged chemical weapons attack in the city of Douma in 2018. The whistleblower, who Wikileaks officials claimed was not yet ready to identify themselves, spoke to a panel at the Courage Foundation, an organization reportedly founded by Wikileaks.
The panel did not specify the allegedly whistleblower’s concerns, but claimed the individual showed that “key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies was suppressed, ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion,” according to Russian news network RT. Russia is one of Assad’s most closely allied governments.
The U.S. has stated that, independent of OPCW evidence, government officials believe Assad used chemical weapons on civilians. Other groups, like the Germany-based Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI), published a study in February finding that Assad used chemical weapons over 300 times since 2012.
“I think the main point here is that, looking at our role, what should our role in the United States be, we should not have ever started this regime change war,” Gabbard continued. “We should not have ever been providing our own arms, equipment, funding, and support to terrorist groups like al-Qaeda because we have seen how that has further undermined our own national security.”
Under President Barack Obama, the United States government heavily funded and equipped the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an anti-Assad coalition that came to include members of the former Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot. The FSA is the main on-the-ground ally helping Turkey’s invasion of Syrian Kurdistan, “Operation Peace Spring,” which began last month.
On Breitbart News Daily, Gabbard also expressed disappointment with President Donald Trump’s policies in Syria. Gabbard accused Trump of “naked imperialism” for sending U.S. troops to protect Syrian oil fields and expecting that some Syrian oil profits would go to the United States for its role in protecting them. President Trump campaigned on bringing troops home, she noted, but “not only are our troops are not coming home, but [there is] a deployment of more troops to Syria to protect oil fields.”
“We cant just go into a sovereign country and take their stuff,” she later added, comparing Trump’s moves in Syria to Mexico invading Texas to “protect” its oil fields.
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