Congresswoman Ilhan Omar claims that President Donald Trump is taking cues Israel, Russia, and Turkey when it comes to the Syrian conflict.
Omar told Ambassador James Jeffrey at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing:
It seems that the particular conflict in Syria is being birthed out of a need for the people to have freedom and to actualize democracy and I’m concerned that most of our cues right now [are] being taken from Russia, and Turkey, and Israel, and so I’m wondering if that’s sort of a counter message to what we say we are interested in achieving in Syria.
Jeffrey countered Omar’s remarks by claiming that the US-backed United Nations is promising to give the Syrian people democracy “through free and fair elections monitored by the U.N., including the diaspora.”
Omar stated, “I believe Democracy should not be given, it should be earned by the people, and we should be in partnership with them.”
Omar’s claim that Russia and Turkey are influencing Trump’s strategy is a bit off base. Russia backs the Iranian-supported regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. They have played a key role in pacifying the ISIS threat from the Islamist rebels. Turkey, on the other hand generally supports the Assad rebels as it tries to flex its geopolitical muscles. Israel’s involvement is mostly centered on attacking Iran-backed proxies in Syria.
The Trump administration has done a solid job in letting Russia team up with Assad’s regime to clear out the Islamists elements in Syria. Further, Trump has not tried to prop up the armed rebel forces like the previous Obama administration did.
Interestingly, Omar embraced regime change rhetoric in Syria not too long ago. Under Bashar Al-Assad’s tutelage, Syria has been one of the last secular states in the Middle East. His leadership has consisted of trying to keep certain religious and ethnic groups such as Christians, the country’s Sunni majority, and the Kurds from descending into tribalistic violence.
For Omar, who has connections to Islamists such as Linda Sarsour and Imam Siraj Wahhaj, seeing Assad toppled would be a dream come true. It would likely usher in another Islamic state to fill in the vacuum.