Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The vice president of the United States, Joe Biden, has officially apologized to the United Arab Emirates for having stated that they "supported the growth of extremist groups in Syria."
The White House has confirmed a direct phone call between Biden and the Prince of Abu Dhabi, a day after the apology expressed to the Government of Turkey for a similar charge. The Emirates are among the Arab states which have given their commitment to the US-led coalition that aims to stop the fundamentalists in Syria and Iraq.
The number two of the American administration made his allegations on Oct. 2, during a meeting with Harvard students. During the speech, Biden said that Turkey, UAE and Saudi Arabia " billions of dollars and tens of thousands of tonnes of weapons" for the Sunni guerrillas fighting against the forces of Syrian President Assad, who went on to invade Iraq .
The statement was picked up by many Arabic language newspapers. The Foreign Minister of the UAE, Anwar Mohammad Gargash, reacted first: "Biden's remarks amazing and ignore the role of the Emirates in the fight against extremism and terrorism". Shortly thereafter, the authorities of the Kingdom demanded "formal clarification" from the American government. Similarly, on 4 October, the vice president was forced to apologize to Erdogan, who commented: "If Mr. Biden used such language, that would make him a man of the past for me".
In his phone call with Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the US politician clarified that his references were "to the early stages of the conflict in Syria, and in any case did not refer to UAE support of the Islamic State, al Qaeda or other groups extremists in Syria".
Despite being a diplomatic gaffe, the American stance is
not far from reality. Despite the states mentioned by Biden having formally joined
the international commitment against terrorism - which for now means targeted air
strikes of the territories under the IS control - many experts point out that especially
Ankara and Riyadh are "at the very least timid" in controlling the
flow of weapons and money that goes beyond its borders into the hands of the
However it should also be said that the weapons sold to the jihadists may have passed through some Arab countries, but were sold by the United States, Britain, Germany, etc. ... In 2012 alone the countries of the Arabian peninsula spent some $ 40 billion in arms.