Turkey Refuses to Participate in Joint Exercise with Israel, USA for 2nd Straight Year
In sign of Jerusalemâs deteriorating ties with Ankara,
Turkish military refuses to participate in joint exercise for 2nd
straight year. Saturday, 06.Aug.2011, 01:15 (GMT+3)
n sign of Jerusalemâs deteriorating ties with Ankara, Turkish
military refuses to participate in joint exercise for 2nd straight
Israel and the United States started their annual joint naval
exercises in the Mediterranean Sea this week again without the
participation of the Turkish navy, in another sign of Jerusalemâs
deteriorating ties with Ankara.
Called Reliant Mermaid, the annual exercise was started over a decade
ago and included the Israeli, Turkish and American navies. The
objective of the exercise is to practice search-and-rescue operations
and to familiarize each navy with international partners who also
operate in the Mediterranean Sea.
The exercise was last held with all three partners in the summer of
2009 but following the Israeli navy raid on the Mavi Marmara last May,
Turkey pulled out of the 2010 drill.
The IDF had expected Turkey would not participate this year as well.
While Israelâs ties with Turkey have suffered since the raid, there
are growing calls within the defense establishment to attempt to repair
them even at the price of issuing a formal apology. IDF Chief of General
Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said earlier this week the IDF would not
oppose a government initiative to apologize to Turkey.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman
are at odds, for example, over whether Israel should renew defense
exports to Turkey, which largely came to a standstill after ties between
the countries deteriorated following Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza
Strip in 2009.
Until the operation and the flotilla, the IDF had held frequent
training exercises with the Turkish military and regularly flew aircraft
over Turkish airspace.
Israel has however found a new ally in Greece, which has replaced
Turkey as a key partner for the IDF in exercises. Last week, the Israeli
and Greek navies held a joint exercise in the Aegean Sea and practiced
rescuing victims from a mock damaged ship.
Greece has also participated in joint Israeli-US exercises.
Last April, Greece participated in an anti-submarine warfare exercise
with the Israel Navy and ships from the US Navyâs 6th Fleet. Last
month, the Israeli and Hellenic air forces held joint maneuvers, and the
Greek air force commander visited Israel in May for talks with IAF
commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan.