Thursday, April 30, 2009

Turkey and Syria hold first joint military exercise ...with US approval

[My emphasis added to these two key excerpts - SL]

From DEBKAfile, April 29, 2009:

Turkey's army chief Gen. Ilker Basburg brushed off the Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak's comment that the [the first] joint Turkish-Syrian military exercise was "disturbing." ...[He] said it was only a border exercise, small-scale and "none of anybody's business."

...the Turkish general made a point of mentioning his "extensive talks with the visiting US Chief of General Staff" and their four-hour long "exchange of views on a range of issues." ...[indicating]that the Turkish-Syrian exercise had received Washington's nod....

Basburg also boasted about his meeting with US President Obama"s national security advisor Jones during President Obama's visit to Turkey early April.

From a DEBKAfile Special Report , April 26, 2009:

[A] joint Turkish-Syrian tank and armored infantry exercise backed by air power [began] across the Turkish-Syrian border Monday, April 27, and lasts three days.

DEBKAfile's military sources stress that it is the first joint military maneuver any NATO member, including Turkey, has ever carried out with Syria. It appears to have received a nod from the Obama administration and another first: Never before has an important NATO power staged a joint exercise with any Arab army.

Ankara's decision to launch the drill on the day Israeli commemorates its war dead - in league with Iran's leading ally - is a measure of how far Turkey's longstanding strategic pact with the Jewish state has fallen by the wayside of recent changes.

...Ankara made its announcement while US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was on a short visit to Beirut.

It comes only four days after another first US step: ...the Obama administration had just approved a large Turkish arms sale to the Lebanese army assigning Turkish military instructors to train Lebanese army units (half of whose personnel are Shiites sympathetic to Hizballah.)

...Neither of the Obama administration's actions took into account Israel's vital security interests; nor was Jerusalem consulted about the strategic changes on its borders - or even informed.

...According to the statement from Ankara, the joint exercise "aims to boost friendship, cooperation and trust between Turkish and Syrian land forces and to increase the capability of border troops to train and work together."...
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