Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic congresswoman who has represented Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013, has recently returned from a trip to the war-torn county of Syria, where she reportedly met with Bashar al-Assad, the country's president.

Gabbard under criticism for meeting with Assad

Rep. Gabbard visited Syria for a seven-day period, accompanied by former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.

Gabbard has come under heavy criticism for meeting Assad while on the trip, as the United States currently has no diplomatic relations with the government of Assad. Former US President Barack Obama has stated he believes the Assad regime is the main obstacle to peace in Syria.

The country of Syria has been besieged by violent civil war since 2011. Protests began in 2011 as a part of the larger Arab Spring movement to create liberal democratic structures in Arab nations.

This led to a crackdown on protesters by the government of Assad, who has held power in Syria since 2000. Various rebel groups, most notably the Free Syrian Army, have led an armed resistance against the government. The violence has been extreme, as various human rights groups estimate the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Nearly 4.9 million Syrian citizens have fled the country since the outbreak of civil war, which has sparked an ongoing refugee crisis throughout Europe.

Gabbard has been criticised by various politicians and groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum for her meeting with Assad. Many have accused Assad of massive human rights violations and of using weapons of mass destruction against civilians.

Gabbard has a history of anti-interventionist stances

Gabbard has served in the US Congress since 2013. Before her time in the House of Representatives, she was the youngest woman ever elected to the Hawaii state legislature and served with the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq.

As a legislator, Gabbard has been constantly critical of what she deems to be regime change in Middle Eastern countries and its unintended consequences. She has criticized the Obama administration for arming al-Qaeda insurgents to fight against Assad in Syria. She was also one of the most high-profile Democratic legislators to meet with President Donald Trump to discuss foreign policy. During her time in Syria, Gabbard visited the cities of Aleppo and Damascus and met with Assad, refugees, widows, and members of the opposition.

Gabbard is seen as a possible contender for the 2020 presidential election.

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