In a refreshing show of bipartisanship, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorists Act was formally introduced in the Senate by Rand Paul. The bill aims to stop American resources from being used to provide weapons, cash, and support to al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, as well as prohibit the federal agencies from funneling money and weapons through other countries who are directly or indirectly supporting them. The legislation has broad support and is currently co-sponsored by several Congressman including John Conyers (D-MI); Scott Perry (R-PA); Peter Welch (D-VT; Tom Garrett (R-VA); Thomas Massie (R-KY); Barbara Lee (D-CA); Walter Jones (R-NC); Ted Yoho (R-FL); and Paul Gosar (R-AZ) while being endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America (PDA), Veterans for Peace, and the U.S. Peace Council.
Commenting on the proposal, Rand Paul stated that “One of the unintended consequences of nation-building and open-ended intervention is American funds and weapons benefiting those who hate us…This legislation will strengthen our foreign policy, enhance our national security, and safeguard our resources.” Tulsi Gabbard added that “For years, the U.S. government has been supporting armed militant groups working directly with and often under the command of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government… The fact that American taxpayer dollars are being used to strengthen the very terrorist groups we should be focused on defeating should alarm every Member of Congress and every American. We call on our colleagues and the Administration to join us in passing this legislation.”
Gabbard recently traveled to war-torn Syria and spoke to both suffering citizens, community leaders, and President Bashar al-Assad. Reflecting on what she learned from her trip, Gabbard stated that the is no such thing as moderate rebels and that the only legitimate fighting forces on the ground were al-Nursa, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. Her words not come as a surprise. In 2015 after $500 million and an extensive vetting process, the Secretary of Defense at the time Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee that only 60 candidates passed as being moderate this is well short of their 5,400 person goal.
Gabbard’s and Paul’s legislation is a logical step to ensure that America does not destabilize the Middle East as it has done for the past 15+ years. Even Amnesty International reported that a large stockpile of weapons that ISIS has at their disposal are American-made and they were captured from Syrian and Iraqi opposition groups. At this point, arming rebels is like pouring gasoline on the fire that is already engulfing the Middle East, it will only end in more devastation. If Congressional hawks have learned from their mistakes, they would not be in such a hurry to arm people who’s objectives and interests are not aligned with America’s. For almost two decades, the U.S. has spent trillions of dollars trying to bring “democracy” to a land that has never known what democracy is and the results have been sectarian division and the strengthening of extreme Islamic fundamentalism. Passing this bill would be a great showing of a bipartisan effort in a time where party lines are thicker than ever.