Joe Biden, Diplomacy and the Unholy Mess That’s Syria

Happier times... U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 3, 2011.
Happier times... U.S. Vice President Joe Biden meets with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

Over the past few days the U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has apologized to two Middle Eastern leaders whose countries he said had funded terrorist groups in war torn Syria.

So what did Mr. Biden say at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Forum last Thursday that brought on such offense?

You can listen here and the context of what he said begins from 1:32:00 or read on for key offending parts below.

“My constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies, our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria,” said Mr. Biden.

The troublesome allies were Turkey, the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia who said had supplied: “hundreds of millions billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons” to extremists Sunni fighters battling the forces loyal to Syrian Dictaor Bashar al-Assad.

So should he apologize? So far he has to Turkey and the U.A.E. who were upset.

Middle East watchers say Mr. Biden was just saying the truth, but some add that the C.I.A. had also supplied weapons to some of the forces that the U.S. and friends are now bombing from the air. According to Christopher Dickey writing for The Daily Beast those C.I.A. offerings ‘were small potatoes’.

But nothing like the C.I.A. to get in there and muddy the waters even more.

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