Biden’s Misguided Apology



By Edmond Y. Azadian

Vice President Joe Biden seems to be in a lot of hot water because of statements he made at Harvard University last week — statements that had global reverberations and ones that the Washington Post believes will cost him the 2016 presidential nomination for the Democratic party.

To begin with, very few analysts, including the ones in the Democratic camp, believed that Mr. Biden was a serious contender when Hillary Clinton had already been wearing her cold warrior armor in preparation for the bid.

For the neocons and the military industrial complex, Mr. Obama’s “pacifist” foreign policy has outlived its usefulness, and the priority of the foreign policy agenda is intensifying the cold war. To save his legacy, his entourage has been forcing him already to conduct that policy by “leading from behind.”

Since the US is the only remaining superpower, all the world developments have to be viewed and analyzed within that context.

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According to the Washington Post, the vice president has committed three gaffes recently, the major one being directed against the US’s strategic ally, Turkey, for which he was forced to apologize to preserve the collaborative veneer of the 40-nation coalition which the US has enlisted under the presumed goal of defeating ISIS, the evil incarnate force which is beheading western hostages, provoking all world capitals.

Before we delve into the task of sifting fact from fiction, it is important to refer to the Biden-President Erdogan incident, which covers and uncovers a host of political realities in the unfolding events of the Middle East.

Mr. Biden was forced to apologize over the weekend to Turkey and the United Arab Emirates after suggesting in a speech at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government that these two allies, along with Saudi Arabia, were the United States’ “biggest problem” in dealing with the civil war in Syria. “What were they doing?” asked the vice president. “They were so determined to take down [Syrian President Bashar] Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war….They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight Assad — except that the people who were being supplied were Al-Nusra and Al-Qaeda and the extremist Jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” Mr. Biden, added Erdogan, admitted to him that Turkey “let too many [foreign fighters] through” into neighboring Syria.

Turkey’s president called for an apology and Biden obliged him. But was an apology warranted and who was speaking the truth? Here is Mike Whitney, writing in Counterpunch: “Biden apologized for his remarks on Sunday, but he basically let the cat out of the bag. Actually, what he said wasn’t new at all, but it did lend credibility to what many of the critics have been saying since the very beginning, that Washington’s allies in the region have been arming and funding the terrorist Frankenstein from the onset without seriously weighing the risk involved.”

The vice president’s cowardly apology served as public relations damage control. What in fact happened was that Washington and Ankara agreed to lie publicly to keep Turkey happy, which had already joined the US-led coalition against ISIS reluctantly. The irony underlying the political goals of the coalition is that the west has been using a collection of medieval monarchies to introduce western-style democracy in the secular states of Iraq, Libya and Syria, with the long-term calculation that the self-serving monarchies are disposable any time they outlive their usefulness.

Counterpunch is also using a quote from “How the West Created the Islamic State,” by Nafeez Ahmed, who says, “Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamic terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.”

If one follows the mainstream media, one is at a loss, since only the face value of events are defined tailor-made for their respective governments to lull the voters and shape public opinion for their legislative agenda. Had we believed the excuses justifying foreign aggressions in Libya, Iraq and now Syria, the bloodbaths resulting from those wars would have undermined the claims and led the public to confusion. Independent and investigative journalists — sometimes with the help of Julian Assange’s Wikileaks and Edward Snowden’s “treasonous” revelations come to shed more light on the root causes of political developments.

By creating the coalition, the US policymakers believe that provoking constant wars in the Middle East and leaving dysfunctional governments left behind pave the way for Israel’s hegemony in the region. Whereas Turkey, by joining the coalition, albeit reluctantly, has a completely different agenda and that is why at at times, their policies are in conflict. By destabilizing strong governments in lands formerly ruled by the Ottomans, Turkey aspires to recreate an Ottoman Empire for modern times, its apostle being Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

A cursory review of conditions set by Turkey in joining the coalition will reveal its true intentions. A no-fly zone in Syria, a border buffer and the right to invade Syrian territories are not goals to uproot ISIS. When Vice President Biden spilled the beans, he was right. Even after the parliamentary vote in Ankara, Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu announced that one should not expect immediate action by Turkey. Because Ankara is in the process of arming and training ISIS forces to do its bidding, the first goal is to depopulate the Kurdish region in Syria, including Kobani, to prevent the creation of an autonomous Kurdish area, which can cause a lot of headaches for Ankara.

In an interview with the prominent journalist Amberin Zaman in Al-Monitor, a Kurdish leader, Cemil Bayik, reveals that Turkey has supplied ISIS with trainloads of armaments in Syria, basically confirming the inadvertent indiscretion of Mr. Biden.

The fact that ISIS released 46 Turkish hostages unharmed while beheading on camera other hostages, further proves that the two supposed adversaries are in bed together.

Another writer for Counterpunch, Dan Glazebrook, outlines the intentions, of at least Britain, behind the coalition, by writing: “Air strikes will inflict casualties on ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but they will not be enough to defeat the group and may not even contain it.” Then he asks: “Why do they not pursue a more effective strategy? Because the defeat of ISIS is not really their goal. ISIS and its friends have played right into the hands of British foreign policy for the last three years, acting as the vanguard in the Anglo-American proxy war of attrition against the Syrian state.” Just this week, while ISIS was overrunning the Kurdish region of Kobani, Turkey was banning Kurds from crossing into Syria to rescue their brethren, while the coalition was unleashing airstrikes — a charade, if not a tragic political comedy.

It becomes clear that ISIS represents a necessary evil to each member of the coalition, to serve a narrow agenda for each.

After NATO broke up Yugoslavia, Turkey extended its political and economic influence throughout the Balkans. The war in Syria can launch the second phase of the Turkish leaders’ old dreams. The only problem is that once Turkey invades Syria, it will definitely face Russia, Iran and Hezbollah Party. In that scenario, it will be difficult to anticipate the outcome of the conflict. The cold war is in full swing, if you also figure in the perspective crisis in Ukraine and tensions in the Caucasus.

Turkey also used ISIS to teach a lesson to the Armenians, first by unleashing the murderous gangs to rampage Kessab, that historic Armenian enclave in Syria, and recently by directing those hordes to commit the most heinous sacrilege against the church and Martyrs memorial in Deir Zor. One million and a half martyrs were denied the right to have their own individual graves. Some remains, recovered from the desert, had been enshrined in St. Mary’s Church, to symbolize an entire nation lost in that desert. As a tool in the hands of the Turkish authorities, ISIS once again violated the Armenian martyrs.

The UN condemnation is inadequate and insufficient response to the barbarity committed in Deir Zor. On October 3, the United Nations Human Rights Office expressed concern about the continuing wave of destruction unleashed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or Iraq and Syria, sometimes). According to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), ISIS militants destroyed an important Armenian Church in the Syrian city of Deir Zor as part of an ongoing campaign of violence and terror which has seen the group also blow up mosques, shrines and damage churches in Northern Iraq. “We condemn the destruction of the church and other religious institutions,” UNHCHR Spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.

Without identifying the significance of the martyrs’ memorial and issuing a generic condemnation, the UN has done a disservice to the martyrs. It actually has added insult to injury. Would they have had the same reaction if this similar desecration and violation had happened to a Jewish shrine?

Mr. Biden’s apology is misguided. It tries to cover up, awkwardly, a lie, when the truth is so obvious. He does not owe an apology to Erdogan. He and the UNHCHR owe apologies to the Armenians, to the 1.5 million martyrs, on the eve of the centennial.


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