On January 17, 2001, the United States, Israeli and Turkish navies combined in their third annual joint naval operation. The cooperative exercise, code named Reliant Mermaid III, consisted of search-and-rescue drills, and involved both war-ships and planes. One of the objectives of the exercise for Israel was to strengthen its military relationship with Turkey. In the event that a Middle East war becomes imminent, the location of the exercise, off the coast of Haifa, could serve to dissuade surrounding countries from attacking Israel. A result, much of the Arab world, most notably Syria and Iran, has denounced the operation, claiming that the United States is assisting in the organization of a new power axis in the Middle East.
For Turkey, the exercise had two main goals. The most immediate goal, of course, is improving and advancing its naval field training. But Turkey is also eager to prove to the United States that it deserves American economic and military support. For the United States, the Reliant Mermaid exercise conveyed the signal to Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria that the U.S. 6th naval fleet in the Middle East is not to be underestimated.
Due to scheduling errors, Jordan was unable to observe the exercises, as they have in previous years.