Concerns have been mounting for some time about the actions of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Rash actions have led to war in Yemen, the boycott and standoff with Qatar, the Ritz Carlton detentions, holding the Lebanese prime minister against his will, the diplomatic spat with Canada, and the arrests of dozens of Saudi women and men, ostensibly for voicing mildly critical opinions.
For business, this has been balanced with a recognition of the financial muscle of Saudi Arabia and the business opportunities presented by the Vision 2030 project.
But the Khashoggi affair has tipped that balance, as dozens of business leaders drop out of what was supposed to be a showpiece investment conference in Riyadh later this month.… Seguir leyendo »
As the Egyptian parliament was nearing the conclusion of its review of the government’s draft budget for the 2017–18 (July–June) fiscal year, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi on 21 June announced a package of measures including extra funding for food subsidies, pensions and social safety net provision. The Ministry of Finance said that these measures would cost about £E75 billion ($4.2 billion) and push total budget spending up to £E1.2 trillion ($66 billion), but added that this sum would be covered by higher revenue arising from stronger economic growth and investment.
The president’s gesture was politically astute. It allowed him to present himself as being sensitive to the hardship faced by Egyptian families as a result of the measures that the government is taking to address deep-seated structural economic problems.… Seguir leyendo »
After five years of brutal conflict, which started with peaceful protests against decades of dictatorship, the Syrian crisis has reached a turning point. The military intervention of Russia has enabled the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to consolidate its position and dictate terms to its Syrian opponents – and their hesitant Western and Arab backers. The alternatives are either acceptance of a political process designed essentially to legitimize a relaunched Assad regime, or else further death, destruction and depopulation.
Political leaders in Europe, the United States and many Arab states have shown that they have no appetite to confront Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers. … Seguir leyendo »