Turkey has defended its decision to ban Israel from joint military excercises over the Israeli offensive in Gaza 11 months ago.
Until recently the countries have been strong regional allies, sharing military technology and intelligence and regularly mounting joint air and naval exercises. But relations have cooled since Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan heavily criticised Israel’s camgaign against Hamas in Gaza. Israel and the US have condemned Turkey’s decision but Erdogan remains defiant. Erdongan said: “Turkey is a powerful country, which doesn’t need anyone else and can take all these decisions on its own.Turkey doesn’t take decisions based on someone else’s advice or instructions.” The invasion of Gaza late last year sparked protests in Turkey as it did elsewhere in the Muslim world. Edogan said excluding Israel from the war games reflected, in his words, “the conscience of our people.”