October 14, 2009
Turkey Follows Israel Snub with Syrian Exercises: U.S. Critical of Turkey
Turkey is following up its decision to allow joint military exercises with the U.S. and NATO dissolve rather than participate alongside Israel with another pointed tweak at Jerusalem. Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib told a news conference on Tuesday that Damascus and Ankara will hold their own joint military exercises next week. In a rebuke to the Turks, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said it is “inappropriate for any nation to be removed from an exercise like this at the last minute,” but stopped short of framing the American position in terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict or in terms of the specific affront to Israel. Turkey’s decision to ban Israel from the annual air force exercises was reportedly in response to pressure to punish the Jewish state for its military incursion into the Gaza Strip last January. Israel’s military manufacturers fear its industry is rapidly losing one of its best customers. Numerous reports of negotiations over arms deals drying up are being heard.