Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Accuses US of Arming Terrorists — Including Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia

November 3rd, 2017 - by admin

Hon. Tulsi Gabbard / US House of Represeantatives – 2017-11-03 00:35:54

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Accuses US of Arming Terrorists — Including Al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill to Stop Arming Terrorists
Hon. Tulsi Gabbard / US House of Representatives

WASHINGTON (December 2016) — Rep. Tulsi Gabber’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608) would stop the US government from using taxpayer dollars to directly or indirectly support groups who are allied with and supporting terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda in their war to overthrow the Syrian government.

The legislation is based on congressional action during the Iran-Contra affair to stop the CIA’s illegal arming of rebels in Nicaragua. It is endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America, the US Peace Council, and Veterans For Peace.

“We have spent trillions of dollars on regime change wars in the Middle East while communities like HawaiÊ»i face a severe lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, the need to invest in education, health care, and so much more.” — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

Under US law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If an American citizen gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, he or she would be thrown in jail.

Yet the US government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.

The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

A recent New York Times article confirmed that ‘rebel groups’ supported by the US ‘have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al Nusra.’ This alliance has rendered the phrase ‘moderate rebels’ meaningless. Reports confirm that ‘every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by [al-Qaeda’s] Nusra militants.’

A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that many rebel groups are ‘doubling down on their alliance’ with al Nusra. Some rebel groups are renewing their alliance, while others, like Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former CIA-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo are joining for the first time. “The Syria Conquest Front — formerly known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front — is deeply intermingled with armed opposition groups of all stripes across Syria’s battlefields.”

“Pouring arms into a war zone only intensifies suffering and makes peace more difficult to achieve.”
— Stephen Kinzer, a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, award-winning author and journalist, and supporter of the Stop Arming Terrorists Act

The CIA has long been supporting a group called Fursan al Haqq, providing them with salaries, weapons and support, including surface to air missiles. This group is cooperating with and fighting alongside an al-Qaeda affiliated group trying to overthrow the Syrian government.

The Levant Front is another so-called moderate umbrella group of Syrian opposition fighters. Over the past year, the United States has been working with Turkey to give this group intelligence support and other forms of military assistance. This group has joined forces with al-Qaeda’s offshoot group in Syria.

This madness must end. We must stop arming terrorists.

The American people have felt directly the cost of our nation’s interventionist wars — costs borne by our nation’s sons and daughters who have served, and by communities and people in every part of this country.

We have spent trillions of dollars on regime change wars in the Middle East while communities like Hawaiʻi face a severe lack of affordable housing, aging infrastructure, the need to invest in education, health care, and so much more.

“Our limited resources should go toward rebuilding our communities here at home, not fueling more counterproductive regime change wars abroad.” — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

The Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608) would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and it will prohibit the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorists.

The legislation is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Yoho (R-FLY), and Garrett Thomas (R-VA).

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Condemns
New US Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC (May 20, 2017) — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today condemned the Trump Administration’s new $460 billion arms deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—$110 billion immediately and $350 billion over the next 10 years—a country with a devastating record of human rights violations at home and abroad, and a long history of providing support to terrorist organizations that threaten the American people.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard stated:
“Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor and propagator of the extremist Wahhabi Salafist ideology that fuels terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Based on Saudi Arabia’s history and track record, there is a significant likelihood these weapons will be used against innocent civilians or end up in the hands of terrorist groups.

“Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of billions of dollars spreading their extreme Wahhabi Salafist ideology around the world, creating fertile ground for terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda to recruit, while simultaneously providing direct support to terrorist groups who pose a direct threat to US interests and who are fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

“The hypocrisy in the Trump administration’s actions toward Saudi Arabia began in February 2017 with the newly-appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo presenting Saudi Crown Prince bin Nayef with the George Tenet Award in recognition of Prince bin Nayef’s ‘excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realise world security and peace.’

“This hypocrisy continues now as the Trump administration talks tough against ISIS and terrorism, while selling weapons to, supporting, and praising a country that beheads dissidents, oppresses women, persecutes religious minorities, atheists, and LGBT people, and is the greatest supporter of terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in the world today.

“This arms deal will enable Saudi Arabia to use US-made weapons in their war crimes against Yemeni civilians in a brutal civil war, and continue perpetuating human rights atrocities at home and abroad.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has introduced H.R. 608, the bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to armed militants who are allied with al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and it will prohibit the US government from funneling money and weapons through other countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorists.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also recently sent a letter to Secretary Mattis urging an end to the United States’ military participation in Yemen’s civil war, where 19 million people need emergency support and which has never been authorized by Congress, and calling for a Congressional briefing on the White House’s strategy in Yemen.
[See the letter to Sec. Mattis below. — EAW.]

Congressmembers’ Letter to Secretary Mattis

Dear Secretary Mattis:

We write to applaud your public comments, made on April 18th, indicating your intent to put the two-year-old, US-backed Saudi war in Yemen “in front of a UN-brokered negotiating team and try to resolve this politically as soon as possible.”

We were encouraged by your resolve, en route to Saudi Arabia, to “work with our allies” to have the crisis “brought to an end” in light of “the number of innocent people dying inside Yemen.”

Yet one week after your departure from Saudi Arabia, the Saudi-led coalition of militaries reportedly “dropped thousands of leaflets” from fighter jets over the Yemeni port city of Hodeida, a lifeline for a country on the brink of famine. The leaflets warned residents of an “impending offensive,” and encouraged local support for a military assault. Press accounts considered this measure a “countdown” for an attack.

In light of these provocative Saudi actions, we wish to raise to your attention a recent letter to President Trump and Attorney General Sessions sent by a bipartisan group of 55 US Representatives, which insisted that any direct US involvement in the escalating war between the Saudi military coalition and Yemen’s Houthi rebels be brought to Congress for debate and authorization before being carried out.

That letter specifically questioned the legal basis for a proposal you were reported to have made in March: the provision of direct US assistance for a Saudi coalition assault on Hodeida.

As you know, the UN Special Envoy to Yemen has stated, “We are definitely, unequivocally against any military operation” against Hodeida, which would have “very, very disastrous consequences” and could “tip the country into famine.”

Indeed, shipments imported through Hodeida amount to over 60 percent of all of Yemen’s food, although “the Saudi navy is blockading” the port currently, “letting only a trickle through.”

For this reason, we concur with Senator Todd Young (R – IN), whose principal demand “refrain from bombing the port of Hodeida” — was one of a number of sensible requests he directed to “our Saudi partners.”

We are deeply disturbed by the words of UN Secretary General António Guterres, who warned that in Yemen “we are witnessing the starving and the crippling of an entire generation.” And yet as children die in “the world’s largest hunger crisis,” he argued, “all those deaths could have been prevented.” He concluded, “Only a cessation of hostilities and a political settlement can bring about a permanent end to the conflict and the suffering of the Yemeni people.”

While we welcome your comments pressing for a diplomatic solution to the Yemen war, we note with concern that Pentagon officials continue to advance “logistical and intelligence support” for a Saudi coalition attack on Hodeida.

As the administration weighs whether to “provide additional targeting help and other military aid” to the Saudis, some US officials have alarmingly justified an assault on Hodeida to the press by claiming that “both sides would be more likely to compromise after one more military fight,” and that “the Saudis need a face-saving way to justify a two-year war that has damaged their image abroad.”

Due to the conflicting comments coming from the administration, we cordially invite you to come to Congress to brief us in person on the White House’s overall strategy in Yemen at your earliest opportunity.

In particular, we seek clarification on whether the administration is
pursuing an immediate end to the violence by advocating multilateral negotiations — as we may infer from your comments — or if it is the case, as press reports seem to indicate, that the White House is “sympathetic” to the view that further “military pressure can force the Houthis to return to the bargaining table.”

We also seek urgent answers regarding the Saudi leafleting of Hodeida, and whether this prelude to an attack was performed after securing US approval and assistance for an assault.

In light of previous reporting of administration deliberations, any Saudi Operation to seize Hodeida would be perceived as a US effort.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) has publicly made clear that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force to counter al-Qaeda would not apply to the Shia Houthis in Yemen. “Certainly engaging in a war” against the Houthis, he told the press, “is a step beyond the current authorization.”

As we await a response from the White House and the Office of Legal Counsel regarding their rationales for a US escalation of hostilities in Yemen absent Congressional authorization, we ask for your cooperation in upholding the Constitutional principle of Congress’s war powers by briefing us on the administration’s plans.

In the face of Yemen’s senseless humanitarian tragedy, where 19 million people need emergency support, we are committed to using our Constitutional authority to assert greater oversight over US involvement in the conflict and promote greater public debate regarding US military participation in Yemen’s civil war, which has never been authorized by Congress.

Should the administration remain unresponsive to our repeated inquiries into the nature of the US engagement in a potentially catastrophic Saudi attack on Hodeida, we will pursue legislation to explicitly prohibit US involvement in any such assault.

Mark Pocan
Justin Amash
Ted W. Lieu
Barbara Lee
John Conyers, Jr.
James P. McGovern
Tulsi Gabbard
Bonnie Watson Coleman
Peter A. DeFazio
Debbie Dingell
Darren Soto
Colleen Hanabusa
Zoe Lofgren
Peter Welch
Pramila Jayapal
Karen Bass