In Russia, some of the most important clues about the future are contained in how the Kremlin is thinking about the past, writes Charles Clover. Read more
After a murder comes disposal of the body. Neil Heywood, the British businessman who got mixed up with China’s powerful Bo family, was hurriedly cremated after police pronounced he had died of alcohol poisoning. In Pulp Fiction, when Vincent, played by John Travolta, accidently shoots an informer, he calls for a professional, Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), to help him get rid of the evidence.
In both cases time is of the essence. In Pulp Fiction, all traces of the body must be removed by the time Bonnie, who lives in the house where the corpse has been hidden, returns from work. In China, the mess surrounding Bo Xilai, the party secretary of Chongqing whose downfall was precipitated by Heywood’s murder, had to be dealt with by the time of the 18th Party Congress, now set to begin on November 8. Read more
There were headlines this weekend about a big military defeat for Islamist militants in Somalia. But even as international forces tackle Somalia, there is growing concern that a new area of lawless anarchy is emerging in northern Mali. I am currently at a conference in Morocco, and the security types here are talking openly about the need to intervene in Mali. A report from the respected International Crisis Group made the same point a few days ago.
The central government of Mali lost control of the northern half (or, by some reckonings two-thirds) of their country back in April. The region is now said to be under the sway of Islamists, who are allowing “foreign fighters” and jihadists to operate freely. The upsurge of violence in nearby Libya has focussed attention on how Mali is serving as a base for radical Islamists across north Africa. Read more