With tensions high and mounting in Europe and the Middle East regarding terrorism and fleeing refugees, Hawaii’s U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and U.S. Rep Tulsi Gabbard traveled separately to both regions over the weekend to assess matters for themselves.

A member of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, Gabbard flew with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, to Paris for meetings with “senior level government officials” on the recent terrorist attacks there. They then traveled to Cairo for meetings with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi.

“We had a lengthy, candid discussion with President el-Sisi about how important Egypt’s stability and success is for the region and for the world,” Gabbard said in a written statement. “He would like to strengthen and restore U.S.-Egypt relations so that we may work together urgently to ‘decimate’ ISIS and other Islamic extremist groups who pose a threat to us and to the world.”

Schatz greets a young refugee at a camp in Jordan.

Schatz greets a young refugee at a camp in Jordan.

Office of Sen. Brian Schatz

Gabbard called for further U.S. support of Egypt and praised el-Sisi for targeting ISIS and other terrorist organizations and preventing them from gaining a foothold in Egypt. She and Rohrabacher also met with U.S. embassy personnel and the U.S. defense attaché for a briefing on Egypt and the Sinai and an update on U.S. forces serving in the region.

Gabbard, right, with U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, left, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

Gabbard, right, with U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, left, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo.

Gabbard and Rohrabacher also met with heads of Egypt’s Protestant and Christian Coptic churches, who Gabbard says praised el-Sisi’s leadership on religious freedom. The president’s crackdown on extremism in the Islamic community has enabled greater freedom of worship than they’ve experienced in a generation.

Schatz, meanwhile, flew to Germany and Jordan for a first-hand look at the growing crisis resulting from the millions of refugees fleeing war in Syria. He toured German relocation and Jordanian refugee facilities, meeting in both countries with refugee families and hearing what they’ve endured along the way.

He also met with German, Jordanian and United Nations officials to discuss operations at the relocation and refugee centers get a handle on needs to assist the rapidly growing number of families seeking help. Schatz serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

Congress is in recess for the Thanksgiving holiday, but both Schatz and Gabbard are expected to be back in Washington when it reconvenes on Dec. 1.

About the Author