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Joe Biden Continues Apologizing Over Suggestions That Turkey, UAE and Saudi Arabia Aid Extremists in Syria

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden talks with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power before a high-level summit on strengthening international peace operations during the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York, September 26, 2014. |

Vice President Joe Biden has continued apologizing over remarks he made last week suggesting that some of America's allies that have joined the fight against terror group ISIS, namely Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have been supporting extremist groups in Syria with money and weapons.

"The Vice President thanked the Crown Prince for the UAE's strong support for the international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as well as the UAE's longstanding efforts as a stalwart fighter against violent extremism in Syria and throughout the region," the White House said in a statement.

"He clarified that his recent remarks regarding the early stages of the conflict in Syria were not meant to imply that the UAE had facilitated or supported ISIL, al-Qaida, or other extremist groups in Syria. The Vice President noted the UAE's strong steps in countering extremist messaging and financing and expressed gratitude for their participation in ongoing military operations against ISIL."

Responding to questions at Harvard Kenney School on Thursday, Biden has said that "our biggest problem is our allies," regarding the three-year-old civil war in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups seeking to topple his government.

"The Turks, who are great friends — I have a great relationship with Erdogan, whom I spend a lot of time with — the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war," Biden said.

"What did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and al-Qaida and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world."

Biden was forced to immediately apologize by phone call to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan following his comments. On Sunday, the United Arab Emirates also requested a formal clarification for the claims.

"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 another statement.

The Washington Post offered that although Biden is known for making political gaffes, the comments he made are "some pretty serious allegations" and have been met with hard feelings from America's Arab allies.

"But as Biden's many gaffes go, few are as damaging as this one," the publication said.

In September, 10 Arab countries pledged to help the U.S. in the fight against ISIS, which has captured a number of towns across Iraq and Syria.

The pledge came following a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia, when ministers representing Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE all said that they will provide both military support and humanitarian aid.

"The region recognizes the danger that has been unleashed and they are full-throatedly ready to deal with that and that is why they committed today to take the actions they have committed to," Kerry said at the time.

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