In an interview this week, Mohammad bin Salman offered an extraordinarily frank assessment of how to combat terrorism. It means rooting out Islamist ideology, he said, as much as sharing intelligence. He presumably would take this blunt message to MI5 and MI6 in his meetings with those agencies, as well as to Theresa May’s National Security Council.
This should provide plenty of food for thought to the cynics who argue against being taken in by his much-trumpeted embrace of a more moderate Islam.
This week, Mohammad bin Salman, also known as MBS, is on his not-quite-state visit to Britain. A parade down the Mall and a state banquet could only be afforded to his father, old King Salman, who made MBS crown prince last June and has given him unprecedented latitude to liberalise Saudi society, lock up his enemies and light fireworks abroad. MBS arrived in London on Wednesday fresh from visiting one friend, Egypt’s General Sisi, and will go on to see another, Donald Trump, on 19 March.
Mischief and mayhem work better for Russia than steady cooperation with the western powers. This at least is what the Kremlin leadership decided a decade ago, after Putin had accommodated the American wish for an Uzbekistan base for its Afghan war only to find that President George W. Bush continued to criticise him for the brutal way he brought Chechnya to heel. From then onwards he searched for a different frame for foreign policy.
How hard is it for women to talk freely about sex, gender and the law? Not very, I used to think. I’d heard about a few no-platforming incidents on campuses, where speakers including Germaine Greer were blocked from appearing because of their views. What I hadn’t realised was just how far the problem has spread. In the past few months, I’ve discovered firsthand that political debate is narrowing for everyone — and that fear and intimidation are being used increasingly to curtail free speech.
Martin Selmayr has always dreamed of being known beyond the Brussels bubble. His wish has now been granted, albeit in not quite the way he might have hoped. It has arrived in the form of a brilliantly executed coup that has handed this 47-year-old German bureaucrat near-total control of the EU machine.
The coup began at 9.39 a.m. on 21 February, when 1,000 journalists were sent an email summoning them to a 10.
Last month, a 17-year-old business student of Somali extraction, Abdikarim Hassan, was knifed to death outside a corner shop, 70 yards from my home in Kentish Town, north London. At that very moment, in a parody of middle-class life, I was having dinner with friends, playing bridge in my flat.
Less than two hours later, and less than a mile away, another youth of Somali extraction, Sadiq Aadam Mohamed, 20, was slashed to death with a samurai sword.
One of the more surprising attractions of Wellington, New Zealand’s small but perfectly formed capital city, is what might be described as England’s farthest-flung literary shrine — the Katherine Mansfield House. The author’s birthplace and childhood home, this modest house in the relatively plush suburb of Thorndon is open to the public — and who could resist the allure of a building described by Mansfield as ‘that awful cubbyhole’, ‘the wretched letter box in town’ and ‘that horrid little piggy house which was really dreadful’?
She also described the place as ‘dark and crowded’.