Thursday, October 01, 2015

Press Release from FCNL

By Kate Gould of Friends Committee on National Legislation

53 Members of Congress Support Negotiations to End Syrian Civil War

53 members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama supporting international negotiations to end the civil war in Syria. The letter, led by Rep. Jim Himes (CT), calls on the President to use the full authority of his office to “convene international negotiations designed to stop the civil war in Syria.” Signers include members of Congress serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the House Armed Service Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Appropriations Committee.

FCNL’s lead lobbyist on Middle East Policy Kate Gould made the following statement:

“This is the strongest signal the House of Representatives has ever sent in support of a fully inclusive political settlement to end the Syrian civil war. As the eyes of the world are on the catastrophic Syrian war and refugee crisis, there is finally an uptick in long over-due momentum for a political solution to end the killing in Syria. Just since this letter began circulating, this momentum has continued to build at the United Nations General Assembly, with President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting on the sidelines to discuss next steps in negotiations. As countless Syrian experts around the world have pointed out, the Syrian civil war will only end through a political settlement. As the letter indicates, Russia and Iran will be necessary parties to this process. It is a welcome step forward for lawmakers to work with the Administration in renewing and sustaining intensive diplomatic efforts to finally put an end to the bloodshed.”

The full text of the letter and list of signers follows below.

Text of Letter:

Dear Mr. President,

We write with urgency to request that you use the full authority of your office to convene international negotiations designed to stop the civil war in Syria, stabilize the country, effect the return to Syria of all refugees, provide for political change towards a popularly supported, accountable Syrian leadership, and develop a cohesive, international strategy for the defeat of ISIL.

The Syrian civil war has now dragged on for four long and bloody years, resulting in the deaths of more than 300,000 people, creating more than 4 million refugees, and displacing more than 6.5 million people within the country. The refugee crisis has been an immense and potentially destabilizing challenge to fragile regimes in the Middle East and is now affecting Europe and the United States.

Sadly, it appears that none of the efforts the U.S. and Europe have made so far in Syria have produced the desired results: a transition away from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, and the return of peace and stability. In fact, with the introduction of Russian military equipment and personnel, and with increasing Western military efforts directed at both ISIL and Assad-regime forces, there is every possibility that violence will escalate. This would continue the devastation of the Syrian populace, worsen the refugee crisis, and risk an increasing probability of expanded military conflict in the region. For these reasons, it is time to devote ourselves to a negotiated peace, and work with allies, including surrounding Arab states that have a vested interest in the security and stability of the region, moving forward with both a peace plan and a coordinated assault against ISIL.

There is no guarantee that such negotiations would succeed; Russia and Iran, necessary parties to the process, are devoting substantial resources to preserving the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad. Furthermore, at any given time there will be lengthy debate by who is favored by current “facts on the ground.” But, all parties to our proposed negotiations have certain long-term, common interests in the neutralization of ISIL and other violent extremists in the region, and in stopping the carnage and increasingly unmanageable refugee crisis.

We urge you to take quick action on this matter. The situation worsens day to day and shows no sign of improving. Convening international negotiations to end the Syria conflict would be in the best interests of US and global security, and is also, more importantly, a moral imperative.


Representative Jim Himes (CT)

Arizona: Raul Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick
California: Judy Chu, Mark DeSaulnier, Sam Farr, Michael Honda, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Maxine Waters
Colorado: Jared Polis
Connecticut: Joe Courtney, Elizabeth Esty, Jim Himes (listed above, led Initiative) John Larson
Delaware: John Carney
Illinois: Danny Davis, Bill Foster, Mike Quigley, Bobby Rosh, Jan Schakowsky
Indiana: Andre Carson
Maine: Chellie Pingree
Massachusetts: Michael Capuano, Katherine Clark, Stephen Lynch, Jim McGovern, Seth Moulton
Michigan: John Conyers, Debbie Dingell
Minnesota: Keith Ellison, Tim Walz
New Jersey: Bill Pascrell, Bonnie Watson Coleman
New York: Yvette Clarke, Kathleen Rice, Paul Tonko, Nydia Velazquez
Ohio: Marcy Kaptur
Oregon: Earl Blumenauer
Tennessee: Steve Cohen
Texas: Henry Cuellar, Lloyd Doggett, Al Green, Sheila Jackson Lee,
Eddie Bernice Johnson, Mark Veasey
Vermont: Peter Welch
Virginia: Don Beyer, Gerry Connoly
Washington: Suzan DelBene, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott
Wisconsin: Mark Pocan
Pennsylvania: Chaka Fattah

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