U.S. Withdraws from Turkey Military Drill

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The U.S. will not participate in October's military drills in Turkey, according to Agence France-Presse.

According to the report, the U.S. relayed its decision to Turkey after Ankara again excluded Israel from participating in the annual Anatolian Eagle drill, which has been held since 2001.

An embassy official in Ankara, who would not comment on reports that U.S. participation is contingent upon an invitation to Israel, instead noted the United States had taken part in a joint exercise in June.

Turkey withdrew Israel's invitation last year because of the IDF's three-week military incursion into the Gaza Strip in Dec. 2008 and Jan. 2009, meant to end Palestinian rocket and mortar shell attacks on southern Israeli communities.

Israeli-Turkish relations have been on a downhill spiral for more than a year.

Last year, Israel's Foreign Ministry raised objections to anti-Semitic programming on Turkish television. Israeli athletes participating in international competitions in Turkey have been greeted by anti-Israel demonstrations.

And Turkey's alliances with terror-sponsoring regimes such as Iran and Syria have added to the growing alienation with Israel.

Over the past few years,Turkey has allowed Iranian land transport of missiles and other weaponry to rearm Hezbollah, following the Second Lebanon War against Israel in the summer of 2006. 

Turkey also did not support the fourth round of U.N. Security Council sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program.

In May, the Turkish government helped organize a humanitarian aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip, whose intent was to spark a confrontation with Israel over its blockade of the Gaza port.

Israeli naval commandos attempting to board the flotilla's flagship encountered an ambush by pro-Palestinian activists.

In the end, nine activists were killed, prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to Israel and cancel military exercises with the IDF.

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