With approximately 40 years separating his eldest and youngest children, King Salman’s lineage is intriguing. A cadre of sons and grandsons are known to have acquired prestige since his coronation in 2015 but there are a series of influential business and political personalities attached to the King that fly under the radar.
Among the multitude of foreign actors vying for influence in Iraq is Russia. Western influence is on the wane as Moscow ups its efforts to engage the political elite; energy companies with ties to the Kremlin are central to this, spearheading a strategy of ‘commercial diplomacy’.
All eyes are on the much-discussed cabinet reshuffle expected in Cairo in the coming months. With signs that even the Prime Minister himself could be replaced, a review of his prospective successors will allay the uncertainty that this change could pose to Egypt’s investment environment.
Six months on from the sweeping arrest of politicians, princes, and businessmen in Riyadh, there are still questions surrounding the Crown Prince’s motives. Intrigue into the billions of dollars’ worth of assets that Saudi authorities acquired will continue to grow; but the silence on this topic fails to dispel concerns.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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