October 14, 2009
Washington blames Turkey for air drill cancellation
Washington has reportedly taken a swipe at Ankara’s decision to revoke ts previous invitation to the Israeli air force to participate in a multinational air exercise in Turkey.
“As to the question of whether there was a government that was invited to participate and then removed at the last minute, we think it’s inappropriate for any nation to be removed from an exercise like this at the last minute,” US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday.
The wargames – intended to be the sixth such exercises – were to have included forces from NATO, the US, Italy, and Israel. The sixth annual Anatolia Eagle exercise was scheduled to take place October 10-23 at an air base in the city of Konya in central Turkey in the heart of the Anatolian plateau.
Anatolian Eagle was first held in June 2001, with Turkish, Israeli and US participation. The drill was to have lasted almost two weeks and included Israeli F-16 fighter aircraft, helicopters and aerial refueling tankers.
Israel last participated in the exercise in September 2008, but has not flown its military aircraft in Turkey since its blitz against the beleaguered 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip from December 27,
2008 until January 20, 2009. Over 1,400 Palestinians were killed during Israel’s land, sea and air assault against the blockaded coastal land between Israel and Egypt.
In addition the onslaught inflicted at least $1.6 billion worth of damage to the already fragile Gaza economy.
While Washington slammed Turkey, Damascus commended Ankara Tuesday for withdrawing its invitation to the Israeli military, which led the US and Italy to pull out as well.
“We encourage such cancellations as long as Israel is continuing its aggression and occupation,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said Tuesday.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has also shown support for the Turkish decision, saying that other Muslim nations should take similar steps and sever relations with Israel.