TEHRAN (Reuters)–Iran on Monday strongly condemned naval exercises being conducted by Turkey–Israel and the United States.
The three countries have conducted exercises annually for three years–each time drawing sharp criticism from Iran and Arab nations worried by cooperation between the two most powerful armed forces in the Middle East and the world’s only superpower.
"Tehran believes that the marine exercises are hostile measures against the will of the world of Islam that supports the cause of the defenseless Palestinians," the official IRNA news agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.
The three allies insist the search and rescue maneuvers due to start off the Israeli coast on Wednesday are purely humanitarian in intent and pose no threat to any other nations.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that such maneuvers–taken under any pretext or baseless justification–can lead to nothing other than an increase in tension and instability in the entire region and pose a threat to regional security," the spokesman’said.
Israel and Turkey are allowed to use each other’s air space to train fighter pilots and Israeli companies have updated Turkish warplanes.
"While the Zionist regime is continuing its savage attacks against the innocent people of Palestine and has at the same time intensified its threats against regional states–launching such maneuvers is unjustifiable on the part of Muslim Turkey,” he said.
Neighbors Iran and Turkey–both roughly the same size in terms of geography and population–are age-old rivals who seldom agree on regional issues but have not come to blows for more than 400 years.