The United States and Israel are watching with concern the growing military cooperation among Turkey, China and Iran, especially following a joint Turkish-Chinese air-force exercise last week. Until two years ago Israel was Turkey's main partner for air combat training.
In the wake of Operation Cast Lead and the subsequent deterioration of bilateral relations Turkey last year revoked Israel's participation in the maneuvers. The United States decided not to take part in the exercise this year because of that decision. A number of other NATO members followed suit.
Turkey replaced the Israel Air Force with its Chinese counterpart. China sent Sukhoi SU-27 fighter aircraft and pilots to train with Turkey's F-16 fighters. In the past these exercises were held in relatively openness, but last week they were held covertly, with only a brief report appearing in the Turkish media after the exercise.
The Chinese are also aggressively pursuing cyber warfare capabilities, employing some 60,000 hackers at it, according to foreign intelligence reports.
The developing ties among Turkey, Iran and China are also reflected in weapons deals, with Iran buying from China mainly missile technology. The C-802 antiship missile fired by Hezbollah in the Second Lebanon War at the Israel Navy's Hanit missile boat was manufactured in Iran with Chinese technology. Turkey and China are also involved in projects to build oil pipelines from Iran.