Turkey cancels air exercise with Israel, NATO as ties with Syria improve
ANKARA — Turkey has decided to cancel a major combat air exercise with Israel and NATO, in an expression of the government's increasing sensitivity to Muslim condemnation of the Jewish state.
Over the last year, Turkey has steadily downgraded military cooperation
with Israel while increasing such ties with Syria. Israel was to have
participated in combat air exercises based in the central Turkish city of
Konya from Oct. 12 to Oct. 24, Middle East Newsline reported.
Officials said the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan
has canceled a key stage of the annual Anatolian Eagle exercise. They said
Turkey would not host the international phase of Anatolian Eagle, scheduled
for October and which would include Israel, Italy, the United States and
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"The feeling is this was not the right time for such an exercise," an
The Turkish media said Ankara's decision was linked to Palestinian
clashes with Israeli police around Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Turkish
newspapers said the cancellation would ease pressure on Erdogan to reduce
diplomatic and military relations with the Jewish state.
A Turkish military statement on Oct. 9 did not say why it had ended
international participation in Anatolian Eagle. The General Staff said the
Turkish Air Force would conduct a series of combat maneuvers without foreign
Israel has participated in 15 air exercises with Turkey since 1996. The
Jewish state has usually contributed 10 F-16s for Anatolian Eagle.
In June 2009, Turkey held air maneuvers with Britain, Jordan and the
United Arab Emirates as part of Anatolian Eagle. The exercise, said to be
similar to the U.S. Air Force's Red Flag, included air strikes, aerial
battles and other training.