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Monday, October 12, 2009     FOLLOW UPDATES ON TWITTER

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 NATO.

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"The feeling is this was not the right time for such an exercise," an official said.

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 partners.

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.


Is this the same Turkey that is pushing to become a full member of the EU? Good luck with that.

Mr.Positive      12:55 a.m. / Thursday, October 15, 2009

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