Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Anatolian Eagle

In October 2010, Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao visited Ankara, his first visit to Turkey in eight years, and his warm reception was of great political significance.  After long discussions on trade and investment, China and Turkey declared that they had upgraded their bilateral ties to “Strategic Cooperation.”  Anybody in doubt as to what this turn of diplomatic parlance meant only had to witness the unprecedented two-week long Air Force exercises between Turkey and China that had directly preceded Jaibao’s visit.  The exercises, known as “Anatolian Eagle,” were an annual Turkish affair usually held between Turkey, the U.S, other NATO members, and Israel.  But in 2010 the drill was exclusively held between the Turkish air force and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), with Israel being disinvited and the U.S. choosing not to attend due to the lack of an Israeli presence.  For Chinese airmen, this was the first time they had trained in a NATO country, staging a mock dog-fight alongside Turkish pilots flying American-built planes, but according to Turkish and Chinese officials, it won’t be the last.  One Turkish analyst in London noted that Anatolian Eagle should be though of as a “debut,” and that “there is every indication to believe that the two militaries will engage in future cooperation wherever applicable.”[1]

 In a sign of the emerging geography of power, on their journey to Turkey the fleet of PLAAF SU-27 and MIG 29 fighter aircraft overflew Pakistan and stopped to refuel at the Gayem al-Muhammad air base near the town of Birjand, Iran, situated opposite the large American base near the Afghan-Iranian border town of Herat.[2]  The “Anatolian Eagle” exercises also overlapped the Shanghai Cooperation Organizations annual “Peace Mission” exercises in Kazakhstan, featuring China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, and Tajikistan.  These were only two of the 14 military-to-military training exercises that the People’s Liberation Army participated in that year, mostly with Asian or Oceanic countries, but also with Turkey, Romania, and Peru.[3]

[1] “Turkey, China in Exercises: NATO blanches as Ankara looks east,” Defense News, 10/17/10. (http://www.defensenews.com/article/20101017/DEFFEAT04/10170302/Turkey-China-In-Exercises)
[2] “The New Silk Road: China’s Energy Strategy in the Greater Middle East,” Christine Lin, Washington Institute for Near East Policy: Policy Focus #109, April 2011, Pg. 10
[3] “2012 Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Regarding the People’s Republic of China,” Office of the Secretary of Defense, pg. 33

No comments:

Post a Comment