Open Letter from Syrians and Syrian-Americans: We Thank You, Congresswoman Gabbard, for Your Courageous Trip to Syria

January 26, 2017
In The News

We, members of the Syrian American community, wholeheartedly support Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s courageous fact-finding trip to Syria in January. With this trip Rep. Gabbard demonstrated her strong commitment and determination to bringing about an end to all forms of support by the United States Government and its allies to the extremists and terrorists who have been destroying Syria and other countries of the Middle East during the past several years. 

Rep. Gabbard’s trip to Syria was only a logical next step toward gathering the necessary first hand information in support of her similarly courageous bi-partisan bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act.  We consider her trip a significant step toward ending the U.S. government’s illegal policy of forced regime change in other countries, including Syria, with the help of extremist and terrorist groups. We urge all other members of Congress to follow Rep. Gabbard’s steps in order to directly see for themselves what is really happening in Syria, instead of relying on dubious information and fake news that is being fabricated by all those who are bent on overthrowing the Syrian government. Those people are blatantly ignoring the wishes of the majority of the Syrian people and closing their eyes to the humanitarian catastrophe it has created.

As they have done so after every fact-finding trip to Syria by concerned citizens of a number of countries, including those from the U.S., Australia and Britain, the same pro-regime-change people in the U.S. are once again repeating the same worn out and baseless argument that such fact finding trips to Syria, especially the one made by a member of U.S. Congress, “legitimizes” Assad government. They further argue that Rep. Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” will result in sacrificing the “moderate” opposition to Assad under the cover of fighting terrorism.
But neither of these arguments bears any relationship with reality.

As to the claim of “legitimization” of Assad government, it should be understood that the legitimacy of any government, Syrian government included, is derived from the support of its own citizens, not from a trip by a member of Congress of another country. Without taking sides about merits and demerits of the Assad government, we have to acknowledge that report after report by impartial observers has shown that the Assad government, and the Syrian Arab Army, has the support of the majority of Syrian people. These repeated reports were further confirmed by the last presidential election of June of 2014 in Syria, carried out in the presence of international observers, in which 73.4 percent of legitimate voters participated and 88 percent of them voted for President Assad. Moreover, the legitimacy of Assad government is officially recognized by the international community and the United Nations — a fact that nobody can deny. It is, therefore, upon the deniers of these facts to back up their claims to the contrary.

As to the claim of distinction between the so-called “moderate” opposition and the terrorist organizations, one does not have to look far to disprove it. First, it should be noted that these armed fighters are not the same people who were peacefully marching on the streets of Syria five years ago. In fact the peaceful opposition movement has been silenced and hijacked by the violent acts of extremist and terrorist groups like al-Nusra, Jebhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and the like. The so-called “moderate” fighters have been fighting shoulder to shoulder in the past five years, and have refused to separate themselves from these terrorist groups, even when U.S. government asked them to for the sake of establishing a ceasefire. And their leaders have conceded that their members have joined these terrorist groups in droves and have turned the weapons they have received from the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar, over to these terrorists. Even the U.S. government has conceded that a significant part of the arms delivered to these “moderate” groups has ended up in the hands of the terrorists. Moreover, the numerous testimonies of liberated citizens in Aleppo have clearly shown that the so-called “moderates” have been committing the same crimes against innocent people, as did the terrorists.

Such arguments are aimed at putting obstacles on the path of a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of the Syrian crisis. They are aimed at making a forced regime change in Syria a precondition for achieving a political resolution. And this can only be achieved through continued arming of terrorists in order to bring the Syrian government down before any negotiations can start.

It is in light of these facts that we consider Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s fact-finding trip and her Stop Arming Terrorists Act as a courageous move toward bringing a just peace to Syria. The Syrian people will be able to freely exercise their political and national rights only when these external terrorist attacks on their country have stopped.

We will be more than happy to do everything we can to help Congresswoman Gabbard in her courageous efforts to bring a just peace to Syria and the whole Middle East by putting an end to all forms of support for terrorists, especially by the United States and its allies.

Salah Zakkour
 
Co-signed by fellow Syrians and Syrian Americans: Rami Muamar • Micheile Muamar • Immanuel Kaplo • Hannah Youssef • Nabil Kaplo • Bairt Alkass • Malk Kouki • Ghazoah Hanna • Zane Alabdine Zakkour • Fahed Zakkour • Nahla Zakkour • Saleh Zakkour • Khaled Baram • Afif Ghalwanji • Nadeem Habbal • Simon Khoury • Shawqia Adboudan •Mamoun Alabbassi • Amen Tomeh • Rana Kouki • Mario Tomeh • Georgio Tomeh • Emanuel Wasouf • Tigram Hanonick • Lena Obied • Jamil Ibrahim • Talal Bitar • Mike Matook • Basal Rahal • Silva Barsoum

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