Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down the big stories from around the globe.
Fighters loyal to the GNA government fight in the southern suburbs of Tripoli. Photo: inhua/Amru Salahuddien via Getty Images
Libya’s UN-backed government is calling on the Trump administration to pressure its Middle Eastern allies to abandon warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose military offensive has stalled in the suburbs of the capital, Tripoli.
Catch up quick:
Why it matters: The UN has warned of “a long and bloody war” waged with arms flowing in from powers in the region. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt support Haftar, while Qatar and Turkey back the GNA. Both sides have claimed President Trump as an ally.
Between the lines: “The idea of Haftar is attractive for a number of countries — a reliable military figure you can work with against the terrorists and bring order,” Jonathan Winer, U.S. envoy to Libya from 2013-2017, tells Axios. “The problem with Haftar is he can’t build alliances. It’s all about him.”
Ahmed Omar Maiteeg, deputy prime minister in the Tripoli government, says that while "someone" had clearly been “passing the message” that Haftar was an effective partner, Trump surely realizes by now that he “cannot succeed."
State of play: Barring major outside interventions, “it is highly unlikely that either side will prevail,” Claudia Gazzini, a Libya analyst at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.
“Rather than a cessation of hostilities, in the near future we are likely to see an escalation with increased foreign support. The net result would be a proxy war ... with no guaranteed winner.”
The bottom line: "Haftar's dream of a military dictatorship doesn't fit with the reality in Libya,” but the 75-year-old strongman has “no incentive to quit unless his troops desert him," Winer says.
"This isn't a hopeless situation, but yes it could turn into Syria."
You can't do this in Beijing. Photo: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images
Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday to protest a bill that would allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
The big picture: The former British colony was returned to China in 1997 but it was guaranteed considerable autonomy from Beijing. That has allowed for freedom of speech, an independent judiciary and other protections that don't exist on the mainland. The massive crowds reflect fears that autonomy is now eroding.
The Economist breaks it down:
Maas (L) with Zarif. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a vague threat today, saying the U.S. "cannot expect to stay safe" after starting an “economic war” with Tehran.
Context: Zarif’s remarks came during a visit from his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, who called U.S.-Iran tensions “highly explosive and extremely serious.” Zarif also said Iran would continue to work with Europe to save the 2015 nuclear deal.
What to watch: The IAEA nuclear watchdog said today that Iran was increasing its production of enriched uranium. Tehran has said it won't observe restrictions on enrichment after July 7 absent a breakthrough.
Muslims arrive for prayers at the Grand Mosque in the capital, Colombo. Photo: Chamila Karunarathne/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority is facing increased persecution in the wake of an Easter Sunday terror attack which left 258 dead.
The latest: President Maithripala Sirisena lamented growing religious and ethnic divisions yesterday, saying, "If we divide and fall apart, the whole country will stand to lose. Another war will break out.”
An opposition supporter shouts after being detained in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Photo: VyacheslavOseledko/AFP/Getty Images
1. Kazakhstan has elected a new president for the first time since independence, but “the choreographed transfer of power was overshadowed by sustained protests,” Reid Standish writes in Foreign Policy.
2. Moldova has “two rival governments, each declaring itself legitimate,” per Radio Free Europe.
3. Russian investigative reporter Ivan Golunov was released to house arrest yesterday after his detention sparked intense backlash.
4. HBO’s "Chernobyl" miniseries has proved very divisive in Russia, or at least in Russian media, the Moscow Times reports.
A crack in the sea ice in northwest Greenland. Photo: Martin Zwick/Reda&Co/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
The Defense Department quietly released a new Arctic strategy last Thursday that omits any mention of climate change and casts the Far North as a zone of great power competition, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.
Why it matters: The eight Arctic nations have long collaborated on governance, environmental and scientific concerns. However, with a Russian military buildup in the region and China's increasingly assertive role as a "near-Arctic" nation, the U.S. is taking a more aggressive posture.
But, but, but: While the new strategy suggests the U.S. will deploy more forces to the Arctic and seek to assert itself more in the region, there are limited opportunities to do so in the near-term due to a lack of Arctic-capable military assets.
A scene at the River Eden on the first day of the Appleby Horse Fair, an annual gathering for Gypsy, Romany and traveling communities that dates back to 1685. Around 10,000 travelers attend to buy and sell horses and celebrate their heritage. Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
"This oak tree (my gift to @realDonaldTrump) will be a reminder at the White House of these ties that bind us.”— French President Emmanuel Macron in April 2018. The tree has reportedly died.
Thanks for stopping by — see you Thursday evening.