Joe Biden and his Apology to Turkey

Thanksgiving comes early for perennial gaffer Joe Biden. He has now apologized to the President of Turkey for his recent remarks that Turkey facilitated the growth of ISIS. Biden, speaking at an event, said:

"President Erdogan told me, he's an old friend, said, 'You were right. We let too many people through.' Now they are trying to seal their border,"

Turkish President Erdogan said Biden misquoted him and demanded an apology. Biden dutifully coughed one up. [More...]

"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 spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.

As much as I hate to defend any statement of Joe Biden, in this case he was right. And Erdogan has been cagey about Turkey's dealings with ISIS lately. As I pointed out here, there were many reports that Turkey made a prisoner exchange deal for the release of its diplomats. When asked about it, Erdogan clammed up.

“When we say the word operation, people only think of strikes, bombs, weaponry, but operations are also political, diplomatic, civilian, and they involve discussions, contact,” Mr. Erdogan said through a translator. “I can tell you we have not had any monetary relationship, that’s clear. Now as to the rest, you probably cannot expect us to publicly divulge what intelligence agencies do in their business, but the end result is that 49 diplomatic and consular staff have been freed. Some say maybe there’s been an exchange, you might have an exchange. But it also takes an effort to prepare for such a thing.”

Asked specifically whether Turkey had given the Islamic State people it wanted in exchange for the Turkish hostages, Mr. Erdogan responded: “I just said, such things may be possible. I think what’s important is to be well prepared.”

Today, even the Sunday Times (London) reports the release of ISIS prisoners. Among them: Two Brits, Shabazz Suleman, 18 and Hisham Folkard, 26. It says as many as 180 fighters were released in the exchange.

The ISIS prisoners were reportedly being held by Liwa al Tawhid, which used to work with the moderate Syrian rebels. And at least one Belgian ISIS fighter was also released, possibly from a Turkish prison.

Back to the border issue. Erdogan also had this denial in criticizing Biden:

"Foreign fighters have never entered Syria from our country. They may come to our country as tourists and cross into Syria, but no one can say that they cross in with their arms."

Of course they don't cross the border as fighters -- they don't become fighters until they've crossed the border and are trained in Syria. Turkey is not just lax at the border, it's also failed to stop the safe houses where the would-be jihadists are kept after flying into Turkey from their home countries.

So yes, Joe Biden apologized for telling the truth. But that doesn't absolve him of the undiplomatic way he went about it. I doubt he'll have the ear of Middle East leaders in the future. The UAE today said it also demanded an apology. Biden provided it in a phone call to the Crown Prince.

The United Arab Emirates' foreign ministry hit Biden with a sharply formulated statement Saturday, expressing its "astonishment" at the vice president's remarks.

They were "far from the truth, especially with relation to the UAE's role in confronting extremism and terrorism and its clear and advanced position in recognizing the dangers, including the danger of financing terrorism and terrorist groups," said Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash.

The UAE on Sunday said that Biden apologized to the Crown Prince during their phone call "for any implications in his recent statements" that the Middle Eastern nation has backed the growth of terror groups.

Shorter version: Joe Biden still has foot in mouth disease, even when he's right.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Vice President Biden's (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by KeysDan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 11:17:13 AM EST
    mistake was in the diplomacy department, not the truth department.   Turkey does seem, now, to have awakened to the dangers of fence-sitting. Another source of ISIS resources is--the USA.

    Isn't that what a Vice President is supposed to do (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 01:20:03 PM EST
    Draw fire away from the President?  Say things that our President might be thinking but could never say publicly? The message still gets out there, and the President gets to be Presidential when Joe apologize. I mean Joe Biden is going to do that anyhow but imagine if he focused :)

    This looks like Biden and Obama playing good cop bad cop to me.  Probably giving them way too much credit.

    ISIS (none / 0) (#1)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 07:22:25 PM EST
    Was also supposed to be selling ther oil through Turkey, right?
    Among other things.

    Almonitor (none / 0) (#3)
    by CaptHowdy on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 07:31:39 PM EST
    Opposition MP says ISIS is selling oil in Turkey
    The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has been selling smuggled Syrian oil in Turkey worth $800 million, according to Ali Ediboglu, a lawmaker for the border province of Hatay from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).


    But if you google there are many


    And there are still (none / 0) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 07:22:55 PM EST
    those that think he should run for president.

    And, (none / 0) (#4)
    by lentinel on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 07:43:17 PM EST
    there were even those who thought he should run for vice-president...

    You betcha (2.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 09:56:25 PM EST

    The Biden pick is an example of Obama brilliance.

    Brawling Sarah Palin (5.00 / 5) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Sun Oct 05, 2014 at 10:58:10 PM EST
    and granny starving, Paul Ryan.

    Not much more needs to be said.


    A swell lot (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by lentinel on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 04:09:55 AM EST
    we have to choose from...

    Yes, and then (none / 0) (#10)
    by KeysDan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 04:10:01 PM EST
    there is Cheney.

    I think he was the inspiration (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 11:12:24 PM EST
    For some of undead series on TV.

    Considering the main consideration ... (none / 0) (#11)
    by Yman on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 05:52:19 PM EST
    ... when choosing a VP is to help you win the election, your point is not well-taken.

    Well, you do have to admit, (none / 0) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Mon Oct 06, 2014 at 06:31:37 PM EST
    that compared to Amir's apparent, alternate choice for V.P, Sarah Palin, we've got an intellectual debate going.