Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich traveled to Syria this week and reportedly praised President Bashar al-Assad, the leader who has been accused of ordering attacks on pro-democratic supporters. Politico reports that Kucinich held a press conference in Damascus where he said, “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.” The international community is shocked that a congressman has held a press conference that had nothing to do with him tweeting pictures of his penis.
President Bashar al-Assad is accused of killing as many as 1,400 democratic supporters in response to protests that grew from the region-wide Arab Spring activism. Kucinich issued a statement blaming a translation sanfu by the Syrian media for his remarks, but did not fully retract his comments:
“A story written about my remarks by the Syrian Arab News Agency unfortunately mistranslated several of my statements and did not reflect my direct quotes. Arab-speaking friends accompanying me have explained that the problem may have come from a mistranslation as well as the degree of appreciation and affection their state-sponsored media has for President Assad”
He went on to say that the translation was, “unfortunate [but]… not a willful intent to mischaracterize my statements or my efforts in the region.”
Foreign Policy’s David Kenner points out that Kucinich’s explanation may have some problems:
Kucinich doesn’t speak Arabic, so his remarks were presumably in English, and SANA’s article is written in English — so no translation should have been necessary…. It seems eminently obvious that SANA was exploiting Kucinich’s presence as evidence of international support for the Assad regime — something the congressman should have known they would do before he arrived in Damascus.
The State Department says Kucinich traveled to Syria as an invited guest of its government and not for official state business. The congressman called the journey a “fact-finding” mission. An important fact he found was that the state-run Syrian media is astonishingly pro-Syrian.
Rep. Kucinich’s Syria visit raises eyebrows [Politico]