World News Brief, Tuesday May 20

Libyan army deploys militias to Tripoli; Vietnam deploys security personnel to quell protests; South Korean Coast Guard to be replaced by new safety agency in wake of ferry disaster; little progress in latest round of Iran nuclear talks; five Soma mine officials arrested; and more

Top of the Agenda

Libyan Army Orders Militias to Tripoli

Libya's army chief ordered the deployment of Islamist militias to Tripoli on Monday (AP), a day after the militias claimed to have dissolved the parliament and vested authority in the commission drafting a new constitution. That move, described as an attempted coup by some central government officials, came in response to anti-Islamist militias loyal to Khalifa Haftar, a Qaddafi-era general turned opposition leader, storming parliament and the prime minister's offices. On Friday, Haftar's armed forces launched an assault on Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi (FT); authorities said seventy people were killed in fighting there. Gunfire in Tripoli reportedly died down by early Monday, but this latest bout of fighting—some of the most serious since Libya's 2011 revolution—highlighted the risk that power struggles could escalate into civil war in a country that has struggled to rein in myriad militias (WaPo).


"Libya's new authorities are struggling to control the country. Opponents claim the election earlier this month of Ahmed Maiteeg, a businessman, as the new prime minister was fraudulent. Mr Maiteeg and his cabinet have yet to take office. The trigger for Mr Hiftar's attack is unclear. But it came days after an intelligence chief was assassinated in Benghazi and after Jordan's ambassador was released by kidnappers in Tripoli, apparently in exchange for a Libyan jailed in Amman for terrorist offences," writes the Economist.

"Militias must be dissolved in order to make way for the development of a national armed force. This important step will face the most resistance both domestically and regionally. Growing tensions between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar have been reflected in Libya. Qatar's actions in Libya, which involve backing Islamist groups, could trigger a reaction from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, resulting in a proxy war. Such scenarios would lead to more Libyan blood being shed and further setbacks for the country. This violence can be averted if strong nation-wide support for an army is generated," write Ayat Mneina and Ayman Grada in Muftah.

"The proximal cause of Libya's current problems in the security sector, the economy, and the transition to constitutional governance is the Libyan authorities' policy of appeasement of their opponents. Some analysts have absolved the post-Qaddafi authorities—the National Transitional Council, General National Congress, government, cabinet, and ministries—of both their agency and responsibility for the current problems by blaming Qadaffi-era policies, Libya's primordial society and regional structures, and the absence of institutions (such as national army or civil society) for most challenges currently facing the country. These factors are, indeed, key components of the troubles and constitute the root causes of the current situation. However, these preexisting factors have been exacerbated and mutated by the practice of appeasement," write Karim Mezran Jason Pack, and Mohamed Eljarh for the Atlantic Council.



Vietnam Quells Riots Amid Indications of Long-Term Economic Damage

Vietnam deployed hundreds of security personnel on Sunday to quell protests. Meanwhile, the first of four Chinese ships sent to evacuate Chinese nationals departed with 989 evacuees, state media reported, and the state-run China Daily said investors should hesitate over doing business in Vietnam (AFP).

Drilling in the South China Sea undermines Beijing's insistence that strong regional relations are its top foreign policy priority, write CFR's Elizabeth C. Economy and Michael Levi in the Washington Post.

SOUTH KOREA: In a televised apology on Monday for the bungled response to the sinking of the ferry Sewol, President Park Guen-hye announced that the Coast Guard will be disbanded and that a new safety agency to deal with maritime disasters will be established (Korea Times).


Little progress in latest round of Iran nuclear talks

Five Soma mine officials arrested following Turkish mine disaster

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