Marlow’s H1 2019 Overview

Simon Wolfe, Managing Director, Marlow Strategy

This article was first published 14 July 2019

H1 2019 has been equal parts tumultuous and equal parts holding pattern. The threatened trade war between the US and China from Trump’s election campaign has materialised and both sides have camped down in a battle of attrition. This was put on an abstract hiatus at the recent G20 meeting and we all await next steps. Our view is that the clouds will pass, simply because nobody wins from a prolonged trade war, and both sides will come to realise that even…

What Marlow expects from this weekend’s G20 meeting:

Simon Wolfe, Managing Director, Marlow Strategy

Quite a few players will try to use this G20 to repair damage to reputations, pitching to domestic as well as international audiences. South Korea, prodded by the US, will say Trump’s North Korean initiatives have helped thaw previously dangerous tensions between North and South. This G20 is May’s last hurrah. She will desperately try to reposition Britain as a global trader and finance hub post BREXIT. …

Music has become the latest front in the Ugandan government’s war on ideas.

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play
And in the streets: the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken;
The church bells all were broken
And the three men I admire most:
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died


This article was originally published in Geopolitical Monitor.

With the possible exception of North Korea and Syria, there are fewer countries in the world with worse brand reputations than Sudan.

Since the late nineties, the country has been synonymous with the genocide and humanitarian crisis in Darfur, which some sources say has claimed up to half a million lives. …

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli likes to call himself the “Bulldozer” — but it’s not just the bureaucracy he’s clearing out.

A version of this article was originally published in International Policy Digest.

Since sweeping to power in 2015, President of Tanzania John Magufuli has embarked on an ambitious campaign to consolidate his authority, which in his view means testing the limits of the law by cracking down sharply on media, opposition, and reigning in foreign investors.

The international community should be paying close attention to these negative trends. Despite averaging an impressive 6–7% GDP growth over the past decade, Tanzania’s once promising market is beginning to look less and less secure of rule of law.

Magufuli has aggressively promoted his…

Allies in a difficult region.

The ongoing standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia (with the rest of the GCC), as I wrote about here, although potentially damaging for the gulf nation, also presents the Qatari government with opportunities to forge new relations, alliances and organisations.

One such opportunity to emerge out of the crisis is the strengthening of the relationship between Qatar and Turkey. The ratification of two bills on the 7th June in Turkey’s parliament allowing for increased military cooperation and the further deployment of Turkish troops in Qatar, signalled their intention to forge a closer relationship.

The drawing together of these two powers…

No crisis in recent memory has more readily shown the importance of corporate foreign policy than the one currently unfolding between Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries.

For those not following the crisis, a band of GCC States led by regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia have implemented an economic blockade and have severed diplomatic ties with Qatar. The only land border to Qatar (with Saudi Arabia) has been closed. Qatar Airways flights can no longer fly over Saudi Arabia or the U.A.E. — dramatically increasing their flight time and therefore costs. Ships laden with oil and gas bound for the port in…

In March 2017, the U.S. and the U.K. introduced a cabin-luggage ban on large electronic equipment including laptops, where flights had originated from six designated countries. The UK ban applied to all inbound flights from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. The US ban focused on 10 airports in 8 countries — Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. What is clear in both cases is that each of the countries are predominately Muslim.

Although the ban was justified by a ‘security source’ as a result of a threat to use a…

The costs of isolationism.

The first diplomatic fissure erupting after Prime Minister Theresa May’s invocation of Article 50 last week is not one about migrant flows or repayment of debt, but rather the centuries old wound of pride that Gibraltar is to Spain.

Excitement built over the weekend when EU Council President Donald Tusk expressly included mention to the British Overseas Territory. Spain, flush with exuberance then made mention that it would not veto a Scottish EU application. Clearly the Spanish feel that Brexit will afford them an opportunity to get back a territory they lost in the early 18th century.

Spain should be…

Simon Wolfe

International Lawyer. London / Stockholm / Melbourne / Istanbul / Johannesburg / Madrid

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