Top of the Agenda: WSJ Reports Neil Heywood Had Spy Ties
The Wall Street Journal reported that Neil Heywood, the British businessman who was murdered in China last November in a plot involving former Chongqing party chief Bo Xilai and his wife, had been providing information (WSJ) about the Bo family to the M16, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, for more than a year before his death. Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, was jailed in August for Heywood's murder, and Bo himself was expelled from parliament in September, stripping him of immunity from prosecution. The revelation comes two days before China's much anticipated leadership transition, which has been riddled by other media reports (NYT) of top-level corruption.
"There are new questions about why, if Mr Heywood was known to Britain's intelligence services, British officials did not press their Chinese counterparts for a thorough investigation as soon as they knew he had died," writes Damian Grammaticas for the BBC.
"The revelation that he may have been an MI6 informant also has implications for the Chinese authorities, who are likely to have been watching Mr Heywood, and tailing him in Chongqing, if they were aware that he was providing information to the intelligence services," writes Malcolm Moore for TheTelegraph.
"The secretive Mayfair intelligence agency recruits from the corporate world too, however. A recent high-profile hire was former Rolls Royce chief executive Sir John Rose. The theory that Heywood was passing information to MI6, via Hakluyt, has been aired before," writes Naomi Rovnick for Quartz.
What Will Be the Top Global Hot Spots in 2013?
Each year, CFR's Center for Preventive Action asks a group of experts to rank various violent contingencies in order of their importance to U.S. national security interests. Help them create that list by telling them what international conflicts you are worried about breaking out or escalating next year. Learn more and weigh in here.
U.S. and Japan Begin Military Drill
The militaries of the United States and Japan began a significant joint drill (JDP) on Monday amidst an ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands.
The UN Security Council's Taliban sanctions committee added the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, accused of attacks in Afghanistan, to its sanctions list (BBC), and will enforce a travel ban, arms embargo, and freezing of assets as part of the move.
An investigation into the killing of miners during a strike at the Marikana platinum mine in August suggests that South African police may have planted weapons (DailyMaverick) near the bodies of workers killed in the unrest. Thirty-four miners died when police opened fire.
NIGERIA: Nigeria's National Security Adviser Mohammed Sambo Dasuki expressed concern yesterday over increasing cooperation (DailyTrust) between the Boko Haram sect and terrorist groups operating in the Sahel.
CFR'S John Campbell discusses a possible cease-fire opportunity with Boko Haram in this blog post.
Putin Fires Defense Minister
Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly dismissed Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov on Tuesday after a multi-million dollar corruption scandal emerged involving the sale of ministry assets (Reuters). Putin replaced him with a longtime ally to oversee military reforms.
GREECE: Greek workers began a two-day mass walkout on Tuesday (AFP) as public anger mounts over a new government austerity bill aimed at securing capital to prevent the nation from defaulting.
Chile Reshuffles Cabinet
Chilean President Sebastian Piñera will shuffle his cabinet (MercoPress) this week to allow ministers with presidential ambitions to exit after Piñera's embattled conservative bloc suffered a loss in last month's local elections. The party is seeking support ahead of former leftist president Michelle Bachelet's potential comeback in the November 2013 presidential election.