Speeches and Floor Statements

“Let’s Save Syria” – Rep. Kinzinger Floor Speech

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Washington, June 29, 2018 | Maura Gillespie ((202) 225-3635) | comments
Yesterday, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) spoke on the House Floor urging the Administration to come up with a strategy for the crisis in Syria.
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Washington, DC – Yesterday, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (IL-16) spoke on the House Floor urging the Administration to come up with a strategy for the crisis in Syria.  During his special order on the Syrian War, Congressman Kinzinger was joined by his colleague Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Both Members called for greater sanctions and urged harsh punishments for Bashar al Assad, his brutal regime, and his Iranian and Russian backers for their countless war crimes and their genocide of the Syrian people. 

The Congressman’s floor speech can be found on his YouTube page, and his remarks as written can be found below: 

Mr. Speaker, the Syrian War is now in its eighth year and approaching a very serious crossroads. While the media’s focus fades away after some chemical attack or pictures that steal our hearts for a moment, the war crimes being committed and the atrocities taking place in Syria are happening in full force, right this very minute.

“For the last nine days, the southern border of Syria has been under constant bombardment from airstrikes and barrel bomb attacks. Despite a ceasefire-pact from Russia in July 2017, we know Syria’s main military ally has continued to carry out attacks on behalf of the Assad regime. 

“This critical moment will affect the future of Syria, the security interests of the United States, and stability within the international community. So, what will we do about it?

“Since World War I, we have held that chemical weapons have no place on the battlefield. We have held strong to this principle, and it is core to our values as a country. We know the President of Syria, the brutal dictator Bashar al-Assad and his ruthless regime have committed countless war crimes and bear responsibility for murdering more than half a million Syrians.

“We know Assad has used chemical weapons countless times to attack and murder civilians. We know that the Russian and Iranian regimes have supported and helped Assad in this genocide on the Syrian people, including strikes and attacks that account for more than 50,000 dead Syrian children. We have seen the Assad regime, along with his Iranian and Russian backers, starve the people in cities like Madaya, Aleppo, and Eastern Ghouta by using food as a weapon. We know the Assad regime has often refused UN and other humanitarian organizations from delivering critical humanitarian assistance to the most ravaged cities in Syria.

“Because we know this, we cannot turn a blind eye. We cannot just sweep this under the rug and ignore the horrific reality in Syria right now. We cannot isolate ourselves from this crisis. What happens in Syria, and what happens in the Middle East, has a very real impact on our national security and the security of future generations. 

“And if we fail to act in Syria and fail to inflict punishment over the use of chemical weapons, we will ultimately see the end of the nonproliferation treaty of chemical weapons, and open the world to ghastly horrors, perpetual insecurity, and extreme dangers. I support the President enforcing those red lines, but we must not be naïve enough to believe if we show weakness elsewhere it will not happen again

To be clear, I am not suggesting the U.S. invade Syria, post up hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops, and start World War III. Not in the slightest. What I am suggesting is that we take a stand for what is right, what is just, and what is in the best interest of the United States and the freedom-loving people around the world. We need a long-term strategy in Syria that leads to a solution of peace and an end to the ongoing, deadly, and horrific conflict. This strategy should also include the end of the Assad regime, and a place at the table of government for all people.” 

"First, we must maintain a presence in Syria and we must uphold the de-escalation zones that have already been established. By bolstering these areas, and making it known that the U.S. remains in the region, we can thwart the strongmen of Russia and Iran from pushing into these areas and targeting civilians. Internally, both Russia and Iran are fractured and tired. They both view Syria as a power-grab opportunity to take on their enemy: the United States, and Israel. It comes as no surprise as we know the true intentions of these bad actors. That being said, we cannot allow Iran to complete its land bridge in the Middle East through Syria. And we cannot trust the Russians… on anything.

"Russian strikes have obliterated residential areas in Syria, displacing thousands. The areas major hospitals, and make-shift hospitals, have been targeted and destroyed. We must take real measures to punish Russia and Iran for their crimes. Next, given the dire situation in places like Daraa, we need to establish no-fly zones and maintain a presence to ensure they are being enforced by us and our allies. This is vital for the safety of our coalition units, the humanitarian aid volunteers, and the Syrian citizens who have been forced to flee their homes and communities. We need to hold Assad, his regime, and his Russian and Iranian supporters accountable. 

“In April, I spoke on the House Floor in support of a bill I introduced with my House Foreign Affairs colleagues, H.R. 4681, the No Assistance for Assad Act. This bill, which passed the House and now sits in the Senate, is a step in the right direction in taking action in Syria, and punishing the Assad regime for its horrific war crimes. H.R. 4681 needs to be implemented, as do the sanctions passed last year against the supporters of the Assad regime for their role in the genocide of Syrian civilians.

"Most importantly, the United States needs to remind the people of Syria that we stand with them—we stand for freedom and we stand against the inhumane crimes committed against them by the barbaric Assad regime, and their Russian and Iranian backers. If you’re a 10-year-old kid in Syria, and your dad was killed by an airstrike, you might see ISIS as the only opponent to Bashar al-Assad, the Butcher of Damascus who brutalized your family and destroyed your home, who bombed your school and left you without an education or opportunity. If you are this 10-year-old kid in Syria right now, you’re likely to be recruited. Sadly, the next generation of terrorism will likely stem from these regions that have no hope or opportunity; that feel completely abandoned and ignored by the international community.” 

"I spoke to a Syrian regime defector yesterday named Caesar – Caesar defected from the Assad regime and brought with him thousands of pictures and documents proving that the regime tortures, starves, and kills innocent people daily.  And as if that isn’t enough, they document these atrocities with a cold precision reminiscent of the actions of Nazi Germany. It’s chilling. Caesar risks his life by sharing his experiences, and in our meetings, he selflessly focuses on others. He emphasized how gravely the people of Syria are suffering, every single day. And every single day, the people of Syria cling to the hope that America will speak up and stand with them.

"I pray for peace, and I urge the Administration to position the United States as the global leader this world needs right now. I also implore the Senate to pass the Caesar Act, sanctioning regime officials involved in this torture and opening the path to their capture and trial as war criminals.  They must be held accountable.  We have passed this bill repeatedly and will do so again if we must, but the Senate has an opportunity to make this law, and stand with the values we hold dear."

"Mr. Speaker, the people of Syria need to know that there is hope. And right now, our lack of a strategy in Syria is leaving many with little hope or faith in the U.S. or our allies. I believe America has a mission to be an example of self-governance in a world drowning in strongmen, cruelty, and chaos—and I believe we have an opportunity to show the people of Syria, and the world, that the American Dream continues. We are still that shining city on a hill, and a beacon of hope for peace and prosperity. When that light dims, it doesn’t give America an opportunity to look within and relax, regain ourselves and look coldly and detached at the rest of the world.  History has shown again, and again, that a dimming light in American leadership only guarantees a future fight.  A future calling up of a generation of Americans to once again defeat an enemy."

"But, if we remember this God-given mission and the light on the hill continues to beam bright, we can create a generation within the camps of our enemies that reject their ideology and implement change from within.  Behind the Iron Curtain, it wasn’t American military action that sliced it in half -- it was people behind it seeing our light peering over that wall, tearing it down so they could enjoy those freedoms, too. As John F. Kennedy said, 'Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.'"

"Bashar al Assad will ultimately pay an awful eternal price when he meets his maker. Let’s move that appointment up, so that justice here or in the afterlife is swift and soon. Let’s shine our light on the actions of Iran and Russia. Let’s expose with that brightness the torture, the bombing of aid convoys and hospitals. Let’s shine that light on the plight of people simply trying to live their lives, to raise their children to be police officers, doctors, farmers, factory workers, and mothers and fathers."

“Let’s speak out for the freedom-loving people who so desperately need our voice. Let’s shine our light on the oppressive darkness around the world. Mr. Speaker, let’s save Syria.”

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