Many perspectives, 1 simple etiquette

2012 Email to Clinton: al-Qaeda Is on Our Side in Syria

Created: 13 April, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read

WikiLeaks posted a leaked 2012 email Wednesday from a policy advisor to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that said al-Qaeda was helping rebel forces in Syria and was "on our side."


Here is more from the email:

"(U) Al-Qaida leader al-Zawahiri called on Muslims in Turkey and the Middle East to aid rebel forces in their fight against supporters of Syrian President Asad in an interne video recording. Al-Zawahiri also urged the Syrian people not to rely on the AL, Turkey, or the United States for assistance.euters)."

While this particular information is not new, it is often overlooked in the foreign policy discussions that we have in this country, and is a reminder that things are not so black and white in Syria -- or in the Middle East for that matter -- as many U.S. officials like to portray it.

This is what some lawmakers, like U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), especially in the wake of the U.S.'s response to a chemical weapons attack in northern Syria last week, want to debate and want people to be educated about. Both Paul and Gabbard condemned the airstrike on the airbase officials say launched the attack.



Both Paul and Gabbard have called for a more substantive debate on the situation in Syria than the same-old reactionary foreign policy approach that has been adopted by administrations in both parties, from Bush to Obama to Trump.

Gabbard is currently taking heat from colleagues, pundits, and other leaders within her own party. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean has characterized Gabbard's questioning of the U.S.'s response to last week's chemical attack as a "disgrace" and is now suggesting she be removed from her seat.


During a fact-finding mission in Syria and Lebanon -- which she was criticized by members of both political parties for taking -- Gabbard says residents in Aleppo and Damascus and other places told her there was no such thing as "moderate rebels" and they were confused by why the U.S. would arm and support terrorist organizations.

Watch the exchange between Gabbard and CNN's Jake Tapper:


Gabbard has sponsored bipartisan legislation called the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. Her bill attempts to stop U.S. taxpayer money from being used to fund “weapons, training, and intelligence support to groups like the Levant Front, Fursan al Ha and other allies of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, al-Qaeda and ISIS, or to countries who are providing direct or indirect support to those same groups.”

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul announced his support for the bill in March. Additionally, Paul and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) have co-sponsored a bill that requires presidents to get congressional approval before taking military action over humanitarian concerns -- like the airstrike in Syria.

Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran, and Paul are calling for a less reactionary, more level-headed approach to foreign policy. Does military escalation in Syria concern U.S. national interests? Is calling for further investigation into a chemical attack before striking a sovereign country worth condemnation? Especially, when there are other global powers involved? Would military escalation exacerbate an already major humanitarian crisis?

What do you think?

Photo Credit: kirill_makarov / shutterstock.com

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