LOS ANGELES—Leaders and supporters of the Armenian National Committee of America—Western Region (ANCA-WR) joined together to meet with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D- Hawaii), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a maverick who has challenged the status quo with respect to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.
In addition to ANCA-WR leaders, the meeting with Congresswoman Gabbard included several local government officials and religious leaders who shared their personal insights on the plight of Armenians in Syria and Iraq, as well as the ways U.S. actions in the region in support of “moderate rebels” has yielded disastrous results for Christians and other ethnic minorities, such as Yazidis and Kurds, across the Middle East.
“It was refreshing to hear such a clear and cogent perspective from Congresswoman Gabbard on what is really going in the Middle East and how America’s foreign policy in that region is failing to reflect our very own American values,” shared ANCA-WR Chair Nora Hovsepian. “Congresswoman Gabbard’s voice on foreign policy is an important one because she is asking many questions that need to be asked—like why Turkey was permitted by the United States to aid and abet ISIS and how the U.S. Department of State continues to make America beholden to an autocratic leader like Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” Hovsepian added.
Although Congresswoman Gabbard does not have a large Armenian American constituency in Hawaii, she has taken an interest in Armenian issues. She shared with ANCA-WR leaders and community representatives that she will be co-sponsoring the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H.Con.Res. 220) being advanced by her Republican colleague from the State of Michigan, Congressman David Trott.
The meeting with the ANCA-WR and community leaders was arranged by Glendale City Councilmember Zareh Sinanyan and included the participation of His Eminence Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian of the Western Prelacy, Reverend Berdj Djambazian of the Armenian Evangelical Union, Father Armenag Bedrossian of the Armenian Catholic Eparchy, and Raffi Kendirjian of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund.
Gabbard has made national headlines over the past several years with respect to her outspoken criticism of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and her strident support for then-Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. In a colorful moment during the last presidential campaign, the congresswoman was, as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, disinvited to the first Democratic presidential primary debate in Nevada for having urged that Senator Sanders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hold more debates. The decision to disinvite her was reportedly made by the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.). Gabbard also made national headlines when she recently visited Syria and continued her effort to inform her congressional colleagues of the dangers posed with America’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other countries that are flooding the Middle East with arms and radicalized terrorists.
Following the meeting with community leaders, Congresswoman Gabbard was graciously hosted by ANCA National Board member Aida Dimejian and her husband, Hovig, at their home, where attendees had the opportunity to meet the Congresswoman and discuss issues of mutual concern.
Tulsi Gabbard is a native of Hawaii and was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature in 2002, when she was just 21 years old, becoming the youngest person ever elected to the state legislature. A year later, she joined the Hawaii Army National Guard. In 2004, she volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down from public office to serve in a war zone. She served two tours of duty in the Middle East, and she continues her service as a major in the Army National Guard. In between her two tours, she served in the U.S. Senate as a legislative aide to Senator Daniel Akaka (D- Hawaii), advising him on energy independence, homeland security, the environment, and veteran issues. While working for Senator Akaka, in 2007, Gabbard graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy, where she was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy’s 50-year history. She was commissioned as a second lieutenant and again assigned to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawaii Army National Guard—this time to serve as the military police platoon leader.
In 2010, Gabbard was elected to the Honolulu City Council, serving as chair of the Safety, Economic Development, and Government Affairs Committee, and Vice Chair of the Budget Committee. In 2011, she visited Indonesia as part of a peacekeeping training effort with the Indonesian Army. She was elected in 2012 to the United States House of Representatives, serving Hawaii’s 2nd District. She is one of the first two female combat veterans to ever serve in the U.S. Congress, and its first Hindu member.
Now in her third term in Congress, Gabbard serves on both the House Armed Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The ANCA-WR Region is the largest and most influential Armenian-American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices and supporters around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian-American community on a broad range of issues.