Hungary Undermine Sweden’s NATO Accession | Iran’s Evolving Threats to U.S. Interests | Southeast Asia Seeks New Security Ties, and more

Libya has seen no shortage of suffering and misery since the 2011 revolution that toppled its longtime dictator, Muammar Qaddafi. Yet Storm Daniel promises to be a singular event. Already, Libyan commentators inside the country and out are pointing to the apocalyptic loss of life in Derna as the product not simply of a natural disaster, but of Libya’s divided and ineffectual governance. The west of the country is run by the internationally recognized Government of National Unity; the east, including Derna, falls under the rule of the renegade strongman Khalifa Haftar.
Derna has become an emblem of ills that afflict many of Libya’s 7 million inhabitants: infrastructural decay, economic neglect, unpreparedness for global warming. But to understand the scale of its destruction requires seeing the city in its particularity—as a stronghold of opposition to Haftar’s violent consolidation of power in eastern Libya, and before that, a hub of intellectualism and dissent. Derna’s suffering is not entirely an accident. Though for that matter, neither is Libya’s.

With ASEAN Paralyzed, Southeast Asia Seeks New Security Ties  (Derek Grossman, Foreign Policy)
Last week’s summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta once again demonstrated the paralysis of this decades-old multilateral forum as it faces the region’s increasingly fraught security dynamics. ASEAN tirelessly proclaims its “centrality” to the region, but its inability to develop a coherent response to Chinese aggression against several of the bloc’s members or the crisis in Myanmar has effectively killed that claim.
When the bloc was established in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand (with Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam joining later), the group’s stated intent was to cooperate to preserve regional stability and peace. Yet today, ASEAN faces the greatest risk since its inception of failing to achieve this fundamental goal. Much of the blame goes to the bloc’s consensus principle, which requires all nations to agree on a policy before proceeding. Indeed, the lack of ASEAN consensus has paralyzed its response to key security challenges.
The most pressing security challenge currently facing ASEAN is the intensifying rivalry between the United States and China, which threatens renewed war in the region. Another issue paralyzing ASEAN is how to handle fellow member Myanmar, which is mired in a brutal civil war following a coup in February 2021.
Because ASEAN lacks the ability or will to act, individual ASEAN members are building their own bilateral partnerships and coalitions. 
ASEAN’s latest summit simply reconfirms the long-standing argument that the forum is unwilling or unable to deal with increasingly acute regional challenges. As a result, ASEAN members have and will inevitably continue to seek out alternative paths, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, to resolve contentious issues. Besides creating coalitions of the willing among themselves, they will also look beyond ASEAN to partners such as Australia, Japan, and the United States, as well as, increasingly, countries such as India and South Korea.

Morocco Earthquake: King Mohammed Comes under Scrutiny After 3,000 Die  (Isambard Wilkinson, The Times)
Public expressions of love for the king have been common this week in Marrakesh and Amizmiz in Al Haouz province, the quake’s epicentre high in the Atlas mountains, about 55 kilometres south of the city. The monarchy is seen by many as a source of succour and stability in a region fraught with unrest. Also, criticism of the king is punished severely.
But some survivors’ frustration at the “slow” pace of the official response has placed the king, who came to the throne after his father’s death in 1999, in the spotlight.The crisis comes as he tries to defuse criticism about his long absences abroad and his close relationship with Abubakr Abu Azaitar, a 37-year-old mixed martial arts champion who was convicted in Germany over a string of offences, including assault. As a ruler who wields absolute power, the state’s sluggish reaction to the quake risks further undermining his prestige.

Kim Jong-un Inspects Missiles and Nuclear Bombers in Russia  (Choe Sang-Hun, New York Times)
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspected nuclear-capable strategic bombers in Russia on Saturday, according to Russian state media, as he continued a trip that has raised fears of the two nations deepening their military ties against a common enemy, the United States.
Mr. Kim arrived in Primorsky Krai, in Russia’s Far East, on Saturday morning traveling via his armored train. There, Sergei K. Shoigu, the defense minister, and other top Russian military officers showed him Russia’s hypersonic Kinzhal missile mounted on a MIG-31 jet, as well as three other key elements of Russia’s nuclear force: the Tu-95MS turboprop strategic bomber and Tu-160 and Tu-22M3 supersonic bombers, according to RIA Novosti, a Russian news outlet.
When Mr. Shoigu visited Pyongyang in July, Mr. Kim took him to an exhibition of missiles and other weapons, raising fears that Russia was turning to North Korea for ammunition badly needed in its war against Ukraine. United States officials have repeatedly warned that North Korea was already shipping artillery shells and army rockets to Russia and that in return it wanted Russian technology to advance its own military capabilities.

Addressing Iran’s Evolving Threats to U.S. Interests  (Suzanne Maloney, Brookings)
Iran has occupied a central place in the U.S. foreign policy agenda since the 1979 revolution that ousted its pro-Western monarchy. The ruling system forged in the revolution’s aftermath was steeped in hostility toward Washington and has sought to upend the regional order through terror and subversion. The Iraqi invasion of Iran a year later cemented the revolutionaries’ strategic alienation and prompted the resurrection of the nuclear program initiated by the shah. At home, internecine power struggles among the revolutionary coalition gave way to repression in the name of Islam.
Much has changed within Iran over the ensuing four and a half decades, but the Islamic Republic remains a disruptive and dangerous force in the international arena. Recognizing the seriousness of this threat, the Biden administration revived diplomatic efforts to constrain Tehran’s nuclear advances and has signaled readiness to deter Iran’s regional threats. However, progress has been limited and, in many respects, the challenges posed by Iran to its own people, its neighbors, and U.S. interests around the world have only intensified as a result of Tehran’s unchecked nuclear program; its long track record of terrorism, hostage-taking, and violent subversion; its deepening involvement in Russia’s barbaric and illegal war in Ukraine; and its brutality toward its own citizens.