President Obama recently collected a loose coalition of Arab states in support of his anti-ISIS bombing campaign in Iraq. Unfortunately for the administration, however, while they may have considered the typical pitfalls to air operations over the Middle East, they failed to consider the cost of deploying their nearest diplomatic weapon: Vice President Joe Biden.
After noting that his own job was something of a “bitch” to manage on Thursday, the Vice President apparently went on a short tirade against several key coalition partners, accusing Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE of funding and arming extremist groups linked to Al Qaeda. Because if there was ever a time to call out friendly Arab nations for their less-than-clandestine support of radical Islamic lunatics hell bent on destroying the last remaining vestiges of civilization on the Arab penninsula, it’s when you’re reliant on them to call yourself a “global response” to jihad.
Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday called the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates to clarify that he did not mean to imply in his remarks last week that the Gulf ally was supporting al-Qaida fighters in Syria, the White House said.
Biden spoke with Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and a key Emirati leader, the White House said.
It was the second time in two days that Biden had to call a key partner in President Barack Obama’s coalition to walk back comments he made on Thursday, when he said that U.S. allies – including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – had funded and armed extremist groups linked to al-Qaida.
In a question and answer session, Biden remarked that our biggest problem in handling the Middle East crisis is actually our allies, who are engaged in a proxy war between Muslim factions, accusing Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE of arming and funding any extremist group that opposed Bashar al-Assad in Syria, thus funneling money and power to groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. The criticism is probably legitimate (though it also probably applies to the US generally, and perhaps John McCain, specifically), but it wasn’t entirely well received, as you might anticipate.
Fortunately, Biden took swift action. For Joe Biden. Apparently, Biden assured the UAE prince later in a phone call that America was very familiar for their extensive commitment to quashing jihadist rebels, that Biden himself did not mean to suggest that our friendly Arab allies were in any way responsible for the slow degredation of their entire region, and that the global coalition to exterminate ISIS still wears pink on Wednesdays. The White House released a statement reassuring a waiting public that while their Vice President was partially responsible for a diplomatic disaster, he has been given a some apple juice and a blankie and is quietly napping in the parlor.