Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States, has recently apologized for criticisms which he leveled at America’s erstwhile Middle East allies in the struggle against ISIS. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have given money and weaponry to anyone who will fight against Syria’s Bashar al Assad, and two of those someones were the Nusra Front and the al Qaeda splinter which went on to become ISIS. Turkey and the U.A.E. reacted angrily to those accusations and the Vice President backtracked quickly. Saudi Arabia has not commented. I, on the other hand, intend very much to comment. There are a couple of different ways to view this episode and I would like to look at two of them.
The first interpretation is that the Vice President, who is known fairly or otherwise for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, has done it again. As a person who frequently takes issue with the Vice President’s boss it would be tempting to jump to just that conclusion but I will refrain from going there just yet, due mostly to the fact that I believe that the Vice President was making an accurate statement. A great deal of oil money and weapons were in fact shipped to those groups who’s only virtue was that they opposed Syria’s Alawite-led government, which is itself supported only by Shi’ite Iran and Hezbollah and the Russians. Those rebel groups are out of control now and threatening much more than Assad and the Shi’a dominated government of Iraq. I wonder if all of that oil money and weaponry has ceased to flow to ISIS. Yes or no would not be something that I would be likely to know, but the Vice President, briefed by American intelligence, certainly might.
And then there’s Turkey. Turkish inaction against ISIS might have been excused when ISIS held 49 Turkish hostages, but those hostages are now home with their families. Where is Turkish action against ISIS? The Turks seem to have little interest in events south of their border. ISIS is butchering and enslaving Christians and Yazidis, Shi’a and Kurds (when it can get them), and Turks are by and large none of those things. In fact, armed Kurds defending their homeland is not a sight to gladden the eyes of a Turkish government official, and therefore the Turks are putting up every imaginable roadblock to any such thing as Kurds crossing the Turkish border to defend the city of Kobani in northern Syria.
I just wonder; was the Vice President acting as a surrogate for his boss, calling out those allies for past and//or current misdeeds? Was Joe Biden sticking his finger into the eye of the Turkish government, telling the world how it really is, and then giving the Turks cover by saying in so many words “Oops, Sorry. I’m just Joe being Joe.”? Is it possible that this was a shot across the Turkish bow; a warning that continued Turkish fecklessness and disinterest in events in Syria and Iraq is being seriously watched and considered and that there will be a price to pay if such disinterest continues?
Or was Joe Biden truly just being Joe Biden, with the possibility of almost anything coming out of his mouth at any time? I will be watching the action of our allies in the region, and especially the turks, before I make up my mind.