US Vice President Joe Biden has apologized for saying that Turkey and other American allies have been funding different militant groups in Syria to fight against the government.
In an address to students at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University on Friday, Biden said that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars” into trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in the process had created unrest in the Middle East.
He added that the US had been trying in vain to “convince our colleagues to stop supplying” the various militant groups inside Syria.
On Saturday, Biden telephoned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “to clarify comments”. According to reports, Erdogan had demanded an apology from Biden, saying that he “will be history for me if he has indeed used such expressions.”
“The vice president apologized for any implication that Turkey or other allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL or other violent extremists in Syria,” the White House said in a statement.
Commenting on the report, international lawyer Barry Grossman said, “It is a bit late to wheel out the US political system’s highest-ranking nobody – the vice president – in order to lament the conduct of US client states in the region which have been deeply involved in the US-conceived Syria project which aims to assassinate Bashar al-Assad.”
“In diplomatic terms, since Biden’s remarks were wrapped up in throw-away lines delivered to a student audience rather than part of an official statement, they are of no significance and can only be treated as part of the cut and thrust of politics,” he said.
“The outraged response President Erdogan is reputed to have made is also only part of the political stage play,” Grossman added.
“What is clear is that, as if on cue, Biden’s comments fit nicely with the position now being taken by some leading Republicans and by elements in the Israeli security apparatus who are critical of the Obama plan to arm so-called ‘moderate’ insurgents, and clearly are trying to play the Obama administration into green-lighting a full Libya-style bombardment of Syria under the guise of fighting the very same extreme elements which the US and its client states in the region have done so much to empower,” the analyst explained.
Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011. The US and its regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey – have been supporting the militants operating inside Syria for more than three years.
“Even the generally pro-‘Complex’ media stateside has long been publishing exposés about the role of Qatar, the KSA, Kuwait and, yes, Turkey too, in funding, arming and supporting the same insurgents who are now rallying around the al-Nusra Front and ISIL flags,” Grossman said.
More than 191,000 people have been killed in over three years of fighting in the war-ravaged country, says the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling the figure a probable “underestimate of the real total number of people killed.
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, control large parts of Syria’s northern territory. ISIL sent its fighters into Iraq in June, quickly seizing vast expanse of land straddling the border between the two countries.
Since September 22, the US and several of its Arab allies– Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, — have been conducting airstrikes against ISIL inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.
The Syria air campaign is an extension of the airstrikes, launched since August 8, on ISIL positions in Iraq, where five European countries– Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain and France– have committed aircraft to the military operation.
But so far, only Britain and France have joined the United States in attacking ISIL strongholds in Iraq.