President Sisi's war on the judiciary is just getting started. Victory in April will grant him four more years at the helm and entail four more years of vying for influence vis-à-vis the judiciary. Cairo's top brass will stop at nothing to undercut rival institutions; the Courts are currently the prime target.
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Cairo's top brass waxes lyrical about its anti-corruption stance, but actions speak louder than words. Egypt's various supervisory bodies have been increasingly curtailed by the President's manipulation of the country's legal framework; empowering himself at the expense of genuine anti-corruption actors.
Top of the King and Crown Prince's agenda in recent months has been to secure widespread support through the appointment of loyalists. These new power players enjoy access to the Kingdom's strategic affairs, making it critical to assess who falls into the camp of Riyadh's new elite.
As China looks West in search of economic partnerships, it finds a Kingdom uniquely positioned to assist its 'One Belt One Road' strategy. While their bilateral ties are rooted in energy dealings, Saudi's maritime capabilities may be set to catapult its fortunes in line with Beijing's grand plans.
Riyadh's political elite are engaging in power plays not only to overhaul the state, as they repeatedly claim, but also to safeguard the regime from a coup d'état. Although their rule may seem guaranteed, the princes in charge have used every opportunity to safeguard Saudi's military apparatus.
Mohammed bin Zayed has spent years manoeuvring loyalists into the key posts around him, which will truly bear fruit once he formally inherits the throne. Commercial actors must endeavour to understand the significance of this, as the country's open-door economic policy is largely dependent upon the Crown Prince's own longevity.
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Irrigation-based challenges may be detrimental to the Iranian state, but for actors with sufficient capital and expertise, it represents an opportunity. Successful navigation of Tehran's political elite could bring access to a profitable and prestigious sector, ultimately bolstering Iran's water security in the process.
Institutional manipulation is fast becoming Salman’s hallmark in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The latest restructuring of the Ministry of Interior’s senior leadership team, combined with the creation of the Presidency of State Security, shows that no stone will be left unturned in the King’s advancement of his son.
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.