Author Topic: Turkey - Operation Anatolian Eagle  (Read 4853 times)

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Turkey - Operation Anatolian Eagle
« on: October 11, 2009, 23:25:02 »

Eagle is grounded over Turks’ Gaza snub
12 October 2009

The US has cancelled its biggest air-defence exercise with Israel after Turkey refused to allow Israeli aircraft to participate in the war games, due to begin out of Turkish air bases today.

Israeli officials said that Turkey’s stance over the 11-day manoeuvres, codenamed Operation Anatolian Eagle, was the result of lingering anger at Israel’s devastating onslaught on the Gaza Strip last winter.

Secular Turkey is Israel’s main military ally in the Muslim world, and has long enjoyed military co-operation with the Jewish state. Israeli bombers are believed to have passed through Turkish airspace when they attacked a suspected nuclear facility under construction in Syria in 2007.

The cancellation of the large aerial war games caused anger in Israel, coming only two weeks after Iran held its own military exercises in which it launched missiles capable of hitting Israel. Last week an official from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened that Tehran would “blow up the heart of Israel” if a US or Israeli strike was made on the country’s controversial nuclear facilities.

Anatolian Eagle, which would have involved the forces of several Nato countries, was to have included aerial attacks in Turkish airspace near the borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Israeli military said in a statement: “The exercise has been postponed as a result of Turkey’s decision to change the list of participating countries, thus excluding Israel. This decision came several days before the start of the exercise.”

The abrupt cancellation followed increasing domestic pressure on Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister and head of a moderate Islamic party, to cool ties with Israel in protest at the three-week war it waged on the Gaza Strip last December, in response to Hamas rocket fire into southern Israel. The massive offensive killed more than 1,000 people.

Turkey has taken an increasingly robust stance towards its allies in recent years, for example refusing to allow US forces to invade northern Iraq from its territory in 2003.

After Turkey refused Israeli participation in the new exercises, the US said that it would also withdraw from the war games, and the operation was shelved, Israeli officials said.

The snub was not the first time Turkey has shown its displeasure publicly with Israel. Mr Erdogan openly criticised the Gaza war, and walked out of a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January, after a row with Shimon Peres, the Israeli President. Last month Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, cancelled a visit to Israel because be was prevented from visiting Gaza.

The Israeli Government played down the significance of Turkey’s snub, but reports suggested that senior security officials were furious.

“We need to stop accepting the Turkish dictates and humiliations,” one official was quoted as saying. “It is inconceivable that they should insult us at every opportunity, and we should continue to hold our tongues.”
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