One of the Iranian government’s many battles is rooting out corruption in its customs authorities. Steps have been taken to make the flow of goods and people more transparent in and out of the country but there are challenges remaining before Tehran can boast a truly hospitable investment environment.
Over seven years have passed since Tunisia bore witness to popular revolt, yet corruption still remains one of the country’s most polemic issues. A reconciliation bill was passed in September 2017 leading to renewed questions about the integrity and modus operandi of the ruling elite.
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With a deep-rooted political and economic nexus, political decisions take their toll on commercial prospects in the Gulf. The current diplomatic rift between GCC member states may not be a ticking time-bomb but it has the potential to gradually erode western engagement region-wide, forcing international commercial actors to make their loyalties known.
Power players in Saudi Arabia are tweaking their networks and staffing their ranks with loyalists. As a result, 2018 will involve elite readjustment to these new dynamics as well as a continued level of unpredictability. Shadow Governance will be closely monitoring MbS and those orbiting him.
Elite networks in Egypt are gearing up for a big year in 2018. The presidential election will capture headlines; but power plays - that reveal much about Cairo’s incumbent decision makers and their intentions if they win a second official mandate - will continue to fly under the radar.
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With several of the region’s strategic sectors gearing up to ‘welcome’ private actors into the fold, international investors are bracing for renewed levels of access to old economies. As opportunities begin to present themselves, however, a host of hidden domestic dynamics will become more important than they have ever been.
Two and a half years after the nuclear deal between Iran and Western nations was inked, questions linger around its effects and viability. Penetrating Iran’s commercial sphere may ultimately prove more difficult than expected, not least due to the relative ‘free reign’ the country’s IRGC has enjoyed in the domestic economy as well as its role in the armed forces.
Despite such a rapidly developing economy, the UAE’s telecommunications sector is off limits for multinational entities and even indigenous actors. Abu Dhabi’s premier family appear to control much of the telecom sector’s dealings and it has gained notoriety abroad over the past 12 years. Whether this is for political or commercial benefit remains debated.
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Saudi Arabia is on the move and its chief power player, Mohamed bin Salman, is wasting no time in rustling influential feathers. In light of November 2017’s mass arrests, questions are being asked with regards to the Kingdom’s outlook and, crucially, whether this move benefits the Crown Prince or the state.
Rouhani’s second term may yet throw up major power plays between the President and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Although united under a mantra of “Iran first”, Rouhani is arguably limiting the IRGC’s access to economic prestige at home and fails in propagating their networks in line with his more hard-line predecessors.
In what is already a significantly destabilised operating environment, Libya’s oil sector is now beset by power plays. Both the National Oil Company and Presidency Council are vying for control over the future of the oil sector and have corresponding visions to go with it: the question is, which faction will win out and where does the upper hand lie?
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Although referred to as Courts, the Royal Court and Crown Prince Courts in Gulf countries do not belong to the judiciary. Instead, they are offices of the King or Crown Prince which provide advisory services to the political elite. A strong understanding of these informal advisory offices provides insight into the wider dynamics unfolding in traditionally ‘closed’ settings.