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Bahrain shifts foreign policy with eye on Turkey

Bahraini officials want to deepen their ties with Turkey as regional politics become more unstable.
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After the Islamic State (IS) released video footage on Dec. 22 of its barbaric burning to death of two Turkish soldiers in northern Syria, Bahraini officials immediately condemned the “terrorist brutal crime.” Manama’s quick response was the latest sign of a growing Bahraini-Turkish partnership aimed at fending off growing regional security threats. Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members seek to deepen ties with Ankara, as the archipelago kingdom, which is one of the Middle East’s brightest sectarian flashpoints, sees itself as increasingly vulnerable to the rise of ultra-violent Salafist jihadis as well as Iran’s ascendancy across the Arab world.

Since Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power 14 years ago, Ankara’s bonds with GCC members have warmed significantly with the Arab Gulf states welcoming Turkey’s shift from a “benign neglect” policy vis-a-vis the GCC toward an “active engagement” policy. This year, the GCC’s support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government after the attempted coup and the council’s subsequent decision to designate Fethullah Gulen’s movement (which Ankara officials accuse of masterminding the failed coup) a terrorist group underscore Bahrain's and other Arab Gulf states’ commitment to deepening their ties with Turkey.

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