Merochasan Relations

Merochasan foreign policy derives from its contentious domestic politics - that is to say, Merochasan policy can be contradictory and disjointed.  There are a couple of sovereign principles which are almost always followed, however.  First, Merochas wants to keep Jyvelik occupied with fighting someone else - anyone else, so long as they don't cause problems for Merochas.   Jyvelik's army is much larger than Merochas' and in general, of much better quality.  Merochas manages to keep the upper hand through its control of the lower Pelou river, and its remarkably good relations with Belaquin to the north.
Second, Merochas prefers a Telrak which is too divided to pose any threat to Merochasan interests in the area, but not so divided that it cannot resist being swallowed up by Malyk to its north and east.  To this end, Merochas tends to enforce two subsidiary principles: one, no Telrakan lord may have more than a single armed riverboat, and two, no Telrakan noble should ever swear fealty to any Malyki lord.  The first principle is enforced by the Merochasan Rontaria (river navy), while the second is enforced variously by the Casas Crantas, usually by means of a dagger in the back of any Telrakan noble who violates it.
With regard to most matters of foreign policy, Merochas seems to speak with several voices in disharmony.  This is vaguely irritating to other powers such as Karatas, but is tolerated out of recognition that a united Merochas might well be worse to deal with.
Merochasan foreign policy is hampered by the lack of a formal diplomatic service.  This is symptomatic of the fragmentary Merochasan approach to government.  Although technically the Consejo Mercantio is responsible for foreign policy, that body is frequently unable to agree on anything more than vague generalities.  Because of this, functional Merochasan policy is formulated and enforced individually by the various Casas Crantas and Acuertos.  
Each Casa has developed various relationships with other countries.  Such relationships may be based entirely on trade, but normally such mercantile relationships soon expand into semi-formal political relationships as well.  Diplomatic communication is usually conducted by the Casa or Casas with the best relationship for the country involved.  Similarly, various countries will use the Casa or Casas they have the closest relationship with to make their desires known to Merochas.
For this reason, the concept of the embassy is somewhat different in Merochas.  Although the other countries with formal delegations in Merochas view them as embassies, from the Merochasan point of view they are really more like mercantile agencies.  Any foreign power who wishes to establish an "embassy" in Merochas must obtain some form of mercantile contract with one or more Casas, and use that contract to establish the embassy.  An embassy doesn't have to conduct trade, but almost all delegations in Merochas find that without conducting trade, diplomatic relations tend to stagnate.
Merochasan foreign policy is similarly hampered by the lack of a real Merochasan spy network.  Each of the Casas Crantas maintains its own network of spies, saboteurs, and agents.  Where necessary, a Casa will "share" information with the Consejo (the Merochasan Mercantile Council), but of course such information is usually distrusted by the political and economic opponents of that Casa.
Some Casas are better at the intelligence game than others, and this results in some Casas having far more influence in matters of foreign policy than other Casas.  Of course, to get anything done, a Casa that has discovered some important piece of information has to convince the other Casas that the information is accurate.   To this end, the really good spies tend to play a double game, attempting to lead the less capable Casas to "discover" certain facts for themselves, without giving away that they know it already, and without alerting the ostensible opponent to the game.  This can result in confusion and chaos for prospective opponents, who often don't even know which Casa they are facing, let alone what they actually might know or not know (yet).  This troubling uncertainty is one of the things which allows the fractious Merochasan intelligence efforts to succeed, almost in spite of themselves.
Because the intelligence game has become so important to Merochasan foreign policy, the Casas which are most capable at playing it have become far more influential in Merochasan politics than their brethren.  The most capable Casas, in descending order:
In addition, a "notable mention" must go to Casa Jate (House Jade), one of the Casas Menoras which often has information as good as any of the Casas Crantas, although it is too small to translate that information into serious power.  Still, the other Casas often pay attention to Casa Jate when it speaks.