U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apparently really stepped in it during a talk at Harvard last week.
Biden, who is no stranger to political gaffes, managed to rankle two key Middle East allies of the U.S. during a ninety minute discussion at the Kennedy School of Government.
Specifically, he asserted American allies such as Turkey and UAE fostered an environment that allowed extremist jihadist groups to prosper in the regional through their financial support of forces that opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He said such support — money and arms — ultimately benefitted “al-Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”
The backlash was swift. UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Mohammad Gargashcalled the comments “amazing and ignore the role of the Emirates in the fight against extremism and terrorism.”
Biden’s comments also tweaked Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who demanded an apology.
He got his wish as Biden called and apologized to him.
The White House issued a statement saying”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.”
Biden’s talk at the Kennedy School can be seen here.