Biden says Erdoğan admitted ISIL mistake

Biden says Erdoğan admitted ISIL mistake

Tolga Tanış - Washington
Biden says Erdoğan admitted ISIL mistake

US Vice-President Joe Biden, is seen during a bilateral meeting at Culture Palace in Guatemala City on June 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO Johan ORDONEZ

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan admitted mistakes that paved the way for the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"President Erdoğan told me, he is an old friend, said you were right, we let too many people through, now we are trying to seal the border," Biden said during a speech on foreign policy at Harvard Kennedy School on Oct. 2. 

While speaking to the students for nearly an hour and a half, Biden defended the U.S. foreign policy, stressing that the White House was not late to move against the rise of the ISIL. He said that the regional allies of the U.S, determined to take down Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, "poured hundreds of millions dollars, and tens thousands of tones of weapons into anyone who would fight against al-Assad, accepted the people who would be in supply for Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and extremist elements of jihadists coming from other parts of the world."

"Our biggest problem is our allies. Our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks, we’re great friends and I have a great relationship with Erdoğan that I spent  a lot of time with. The Saudis, The Emiratis etc... What were they doing?" Biden asked.

"So now what is happening, all of sudden everybody is awakened," Biden added, claiming that like Turkey admitted its mistakes, Saudi Arabia and Qatar stopped the funding of jihadists.

"Now we have and the president has been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go in to a Muslim nation and be the aggressive. It has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization," Biden said.

"They voted in the Turkish parliament to allow Turkish ground forces in the take on ISIL, Turkish airspace be able to be used by NATO and by other allies, Turkish airspace be able to accommodate our drones ... I took a while for Turkey, a Sunni nation, to figure out that ISIL was a direct and immediate threat to their well-being."

With similar remarks, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had recently placed the blame for the rise of the ISIL on those who resorted to any means to oust al-Assad, creating what he called a “sloppy process.”

Kendra Barkoff, the spokeswoman for the Vice President, also sent a written statement by e-mail on Mr. Biden's remarks.

"Turkey is a critical Ally for the United States, and the Vice President has a personally close relationship with President Erdogan, whom he respects and admires," Barkoff said.

"The two leaders spoke today about our countries’ common effort to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and agreed to coordinate our actions going forward. In the Vice President’s remarks yesterday at Harvard University, he was trying to convey that none of us knew enough about the various elements of the opposition within Syria. However, now that we are confronted with the common threat of ISIL, we are determined to act with our Allies and partners in the region to degrade and destroy this malicious force.”