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CONNECT THE WORLD
Thai Military Declares Martial Law; Libya On Brink Of Civil Conflict; Developers Hope Downtown Los Angeles Becomes Next Residential Trend
Aired May 20, 2014 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM CLANCY, HOST: Thailand finds itself under military lockdown yet again. The army says its nearly installed martial law does not constitute a coup. We'll examine what it does men for the country.
Also ahead, Libya on the brink. Tripoli bearing the scars as tensions escalate between Islamic militias and renegade forces.
And a bonding session in Shanghai. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping vow to enhance their country's ties in the face of mounting international criticism.
ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is Connect the World.
CLANCY: Thailand is now under martial law. The army insists it is only trying to maintain public order after months of protests.
Soldiers are stationed now at key intersection in Bangkok, the capital. Radio and television stations have been told to suspend normal programming as needed.
The country's political crisis deepened two weeks ago when the constitutional court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra from office. One government aid accusing the army of staging half a coup d'etat. But the military insists its only trying to calm tensions and not stage any takeover.
Here's a view of one Thai political scientist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK, PROFESSOR, CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY: We've been paralyzed in Thailand, because on one side we have protesters bent on replacing the government, on the other side we have caretaker government unwilling to resign.
So this deadlock now have been broken by the martial law and the army's presence. But going forward we have a big problem, because to climb our way out of this crisis eventually we will need to return to the electoral system. But the elections, if we have one -- when we do -- it will be won by one side, by the Thaksin Shinawatra side. So somehow that has to be answered and addressed. We have to make the electoral system workable, otherwise if you don't have elections, then we will have a solution from outside the electoral system. And that's not what we want to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: All right, we're going to have much, much more on this story coming up a little bit later in the program. We're going to show you how months of political protest lead to today's declaration of martial law.
And while Thailand's army insists it's not trying to stage a takeover, we'll discuss the army's possible motives with a 20 year veteran of the CIA just ahead.
In Libya, a fight against Islamic militias loyal to the interim government is gaining strength. More members of the army and militia groups are declaring their allegiance to renegade general Khalifa Haftar's so-called Libyan National Army. The group attacked Islamic militias in Benghazi and stormed parliament on Sunday.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Tripoli with some of the latest developments in this crisis -- Jomana.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, well, so far after that intense fighting, that fierce fighting we saw in Tripoli on Sunday night, it seems that most of these militias, these forces in Tripoli, have withdrawn to their bases. The situation has been relatively calm here.
But like you mentioned, the divide is widening. These two camps here, the one that is rallying around General Haftar and his Libyan National Army, that self-declared army, it's increasing over the past 24 hours.
We're also seeing on the other hand the pro-Islamist forces, Islamist militias that are seeing this as a war against the state. They see this as a war against their revolution. And they are holding on to that position. So really it's polarizing the country.
But I'm told there are lots of talks and negotiations behind the scenes, diplomatic talks, political talks to try and diffuse the tensions.
The real fear, Jim, has been over the last 24 hours, an order was made to bring in militias from the city of Misrata, that's the western coastal city of Misrata that's close to Tripoli, these are forces that in the past have been affiliated with the General National Congress and the Islamist forces in the country.
So a very contentious move, a very dangerous one seen that if they could -- if they do come into Tripoli, that could trigger a conflict with the troops that are allying themselves with General Haftar, like the troops from the western mountain city of Zintan (ph).
On both sides, Jim, really very well -- really powerful militias that are very well armed. So real fears here -- and as we were seeing, more and more countries are shutting down their diplomatic missions here in Tripoli. I'm also hearing of some international companies that are withdrawing their staff from the country for now.
A lot of concerns that the country is really inching closer to an all out civil conflict.
CLANCY: Jomana, what are ordinary citizens doing right now? It seems that the fighting is very much focused on these political or military groups. But civilians have to be worried about being caught in the crossfire.
KARADSHEH: That's exactly what people have been saying for months, Jim. They are really worried that they are the ones who are going to pay the price for this power struggle. We are seeing this fight for power between these different armed groups. They feel like they're the ones who are just caught in the middle of all of this.
For the past two years -- more than two years, Jim, all I've been hearing from the Libyan people is they want one thing, they want security. They are fed up with militias. They are fed up with these groups, each one with their different agendas. And they just want to see a stable country - - you know what the revolution was about, a better life that they have yet to get.
And over the past couple of days, Jim, people have been really, really worried. I've seen people stocking up. You know, they have been through a conflict like this not long ago. So they know the dangers here of the war happening here in Tripoli. Any confrontation in these urban areas, like we saw on Sunday when militias were fighting in the capital, residential buildings were hit. So people are really concerned about them paying the price for this.
CLANCY: Jomana Karadsheh there with some really good perspective not only on what is happening in the country, the blooming battle, but the frustrations, the fears of so many Libyans today worried about their future.
Jomana, as always, thank you.
Israel has joined the international hunt for more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Teams from Britain, France and the U.S. and now two individuals from Israel are helping Nigerian troops search for the girls who had been missing for more than five weeks now.
Vladimir Duthiers is following the latest developments for us from Abuja -- Vladimir.
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jim, as you say, we've been following the story from the very beginning. And there are some stories that you cover as a reporter that -- generally speaking, as you know, we try to stay objective. We try to stay above the fray when it comes to reporting, but we've had the opportunity over the last couple of weeks to talk to several family members who have been affected by this kidnapping. And we spoke recently to a mother who for the very first time saw her daughter in that video that was released by Boko Haram just few weeks ago. Take a listen.
DUTHIERS: This is the first time you're seeing this video, yes? You see your daughter here?
You think this is your daughter? This is your daughter? Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They told me no. That she fainted on the way to Chibok. The next day I still asked someone and they said, yes, and the next day I took the bike. I went back again to the school and I asked whether she is here and they said no, she is not here.
I went back home and I asked again, she was not there.
DUTHIERS: Describe for us your daughter that was kidnapped. What is she like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is very popular and she is not afraid of anyone or anything. She acts like a man.
DUTHIERS: What is life like in Chibok? What is it like to live with the threat of Boko Haram?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know anything except that life must go on. When we hear Boko Haram everyone runs out and sleeps in the bush. It's terrifying.
DUTHIERS: Knowing that it's dangerous for girls to go to school because of the danger of Boko Haram, but you believe that your daughter should go to school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's good. Without school, how would I be here? If you people do not go to school, you couldn't be here. School is good.
DUTHIERS: And your daughter was not afraid to go to school.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is not afraid to go to school.
DUTHIERS: When she comes back home to you, will you allow her to go to school again?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When god brings her back I will still allow her to go to school.
DUTHIERS: If god brings her back to you, she'll go back to school?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she comes back, she will go back to school.
DUTHIERS: As I said, Jim, you know, you try to stay above it all, but when I did this interview with this mother and I looked into her eyes, I could just see that pain and that suffering that not knowing what is happening with her daughter, the terror that she lives under still to this day, which is why we can't show you her identity.
But also, Jim, I saw her, as you saw in the interview, steadfastly refusing to believe that he daughter would not come home, and that she would eventually go back to school. Her daughter wants to be a computer scientist, Jim.
CLANCY: Vladimir Duthiers reporting to us there live from Abuja. Vlad, as always, thank you.
That was, you know, you can -- as you say, you can -- we couldn't see her eyes, but we could hear it in her voice. Thanks a lot.
Well, this just coming in to CNN, three blasts have now rocked the heart of the city of Jos in central Nigeria. We're hearing that from two local journalists, one of them was an eyewitness to the first blast. They say the blasts did cause casualties, although right now it's too early. We have not got authorities giving us any number of casualties.
The journalist on the scene of the first explosion described the blast as massive. He says people started screaming and running, some of them covered in blood, some having to be carried away.
He also normal citizens rushing to that scene to try to help those who had been wounded.
The first blast was a bomb that detonated at the busy terminus market, as its called. That's the location in the city where fruits, vegetables and clothing are sold. The second blast also happened at terminus market and could have been a second bomb, or could have been a gas canister ignited by fires from the first bomb.
Police and military are now on the scene there. Of course, we will ring you details as they come in.
All right, still to come this hour, China hitting out against U.S. hacking charges, denying its officials went after anybody's trade secrets. It says Washington is a hypocrite.
And as Beijing feels the ire of the White House, China's president welcome Vladimir Putin. We'll tell you about that story as well.
CLANCY: You're watching CNN. This is Connect the World. I'm Jim Clancy. Welcome back everyone.
We want to take a longer look at our top story that comes out of Thailand. The army chief is urging rival political parties stop the fighting, end the crisis, the political crisis that has gripped the country now for more than a year. But for now, the army says until that peace and order is restored, Thailand will remain under martial law. It has shut down several Thai broadcasters. It has stationed troops across parts of Bangkok. The Thai's army surprise announcement caps off six months of political protests, some of them are violent.
Kristie Lu Stout shows us how events in Thailand escalated to this point.
LU STOUT: The order came before dawn. And by daylight, armed soldiers could be seen in the streets of Bangkok. But the military insists this is not a coup.
GEN. PRAYUTH CHAN-OCHA, THAI ARMY CHIEF (through translator): I have asked all sides, all groups to stop any movement in order to start the sustainable solution as soon as possible.
LU STOUT: But an aid to the prime minister calls this half a coup d'etat. The move, he says, was made without the government's knowledge.
The army chief warned of intervention after violence returned to Bangkok last week. Three anti-government protesters were killed and 23 injured when gunmen opened fire on a protest camp in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Later that day, anti-government protesters stormed the grounds of an air force office compound, forcing the country's interim prime minister to flee a meeting.
Political tensions have been running high in Thailand after the constitutional court removed Prime Minister Yingluck Luck Shinawatra and nine cabinet ministers from office earlier this month.
PAUL QUAGLIA, DIRECTOR, PQA ASSOCIATES: Here in Bangkok...
LU STOUT: Paul Quaglia, a 20 year veteran of the CIA and director of risk assessment firm PQA Associates based in Bangkok says it is this political uncertainty, which prompted the military to intervene.
QUAGLIA: ...some sort of authority needed to be inserted into the discourse here. I'm not sure the military wants to be in this long-term. I think that they reluctantly took this step today. They really are out of the business of staging coups now in 2014.
That being said, they may have to take more assertive action in the days to come if one or other of the opposing camps do not accept martial law and continue to defy it.
LU STOUT: Quaglia also says there's a sense of relief among Bangkok businesses and residents today despite the military presence around the capital.
Kristie Lu Stout, CNN, Hong Kong.
CLANCY: All right, let's take a closer look at where we go from here in Thailand. You just saw this man in Kristie's report, Paul Quaglia joins us now live from Bangkok. He is director of PQA Associates. He's a 20 year veteran of the CIA.
Paul, has the military taken sides here against, well, what the rural poor in northern Thailand would say is in favor of Bangkok's elite?
QUAGLIA: Jim, it's too early to tell what the answer to that question is. It doesn't appear so at this point.
The military has gone out of its way to try and appear even handed. And in fact day one of martial law has been a success in their eyes. Everybody has behaved themselves. Coming over here tonight, I saw that some of the military deployments set out earlier today have actually been cut down a bit. So it's all quite normal at the moment.
But the problem is, what do you do on day two after a martial law? And that is where the military is going to have to try and bring these parties together to negotiate a settlement. That will be a very uphill climb for them, because -- go ahead, Jim, sorry.
CLANCY: I'm just wondering, has the king made any comment at all? Or do you expect him to have a hand in here?
QUAGLIA: No, we haven't heard anything from the king and I don't expect that he will have anything to say in this.
CLANCY: When you look at the military, you were beginning to talk there a little bit about the challenges that it is going to face.
The Shinawatra family has strong support, as I mentioned earlier, among the rural poor in northern Thailand, might they enter the fray here? Or do you think they will remain at home so long as the military remains on the streets?
QUAGLIA: Well, I think the military is going to have to try and get a political solution worked out here. And I fear that they will have to do that through imposing a solution on the warring parties. The parties are quite far apart. The discourse is very strident. And there has been no moves to try and compromise in either camp.
So that is the challenge the military faces. They are well equipped to enforce martial law and bring order to the streets. They are less experienced, Jim, in mediating political solutions.
CLANCY: Well, that -- and that the crux of the problem here. We have a political system that appears to be in a stalemate itself, a long-term stalemate between the forces of -- if you want to call them the urban, the well to do, the people who have an interest right here in Bangkok, and those who live outside the capital of much more modest means.
QUAGLIA: That's true. And that's generally how it breaks down. This current conflict is just the latest flavor of what we've seen since 2006 when the military removed then prime minister Thaksin from office.
You have a much larger electorally powerful rural population, now accustomed to getting some of the economic benefits of Thailand. And we have a less electorally influential elite basically centered in Bangkok who don't seem to be unwilling to give up some of these privileges they've had historically, Jim.
CLANCY: All right, the way forward in your view -- there doesn't seem to be anything anybody on the outside can do. What can the people -- what could political leaders, the military perhaps do, in order to unravel this Gordian knot?
QUAGLIA: Good question. They've done one thing well, I believe, and that is they've at least taken some order back to the streets of central Bangkok today. The population, as I said in an earlier report, is quite relieved to not have another week, possibly even a week of worse discord on the streets.
So the first step is to restore order and some calm.
The second step will be to bring in, in a private atmosphere, the leaders of each camp to have discussions in private mediated by the military, not done from the stages of their respective camps where strong language has been used.
CLANCY: Paul Quaglia, 20 year veteran of the CIA, joining us there live from Bangkok.
Paul, I want to thank you for your perspectives. I guess the only thing for us to do at this point is wait and watch. Thank you.
QUAGLIA: Correct. Thank you, Jim.
CLANCY: Well, the last time that Thailand's army imposed martial law was as Paul noted there back in September of 2006. It followed the military coup that removed then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra from power. IT happened while Shinawatra was in New York attending a UN meeting.
The Thai army chief declared himself the country's interim leader. Under martial law, television and radio stations were seized, governments - - government offices, banks, schools, the stock market all shut down for a day, unauthorized gatherings of more than five people were punishable by six months in prison.
Martial Law lasted about four months. It was lifted in January of 2007. Thailand's military has attempted 18 coups since the country became a constitutional monarchy back in 1932.
Well, one of our most popular articles on our website breaks down just what martial law means to Thailand. We're talking about everything you need to put the story into context from what martial law looks like there to what's likely to happen next. And as always, you can leave your own comments on what Thailand may or may not need. It's all waiting for you at CNN.com/international.
All right, live from CNN Center, you are with Connect the World. And coming up, another country struggling to stick to its democratic ideals. Three years after the Arab Spring, a peaceful summer seems no closer for the people of Libya.
CLANCY: You're watching Connect the World. We're live from CNN Center. Welcome back everyone. I'm Jim Clancy.
Well, Los Angeles is the second most populous city in the United States. Its sheer size and diversity sparked a global appetite for development projects within the city. In One Square Meter, John Defterios has more on efforts to draw residents to the downtown business district.
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Los Angeles, California, known as the home of Hollywood Studios and high profile events. It has never been known for downtown living, but there is a development boom in the area that should change that.
PAUL KELLER, CEO, MACK URBAN: : We're planning on locating the tower in between these two existing high rise condominium buildings.
DEFTERIOS: Real Estate development company Mack Urban plans to turn these parking lots into multiple residential properties, that should include about 1,500 apartments. The company intends to invest up to $750 million in the area, that probably symbolizes downtown L.A.'s growth best, the South Park Discrict.
KELLER: What's driving investment and development here in South Park has really been the continuation of a massive investment beginning with the development of our arena here in downtown Staples.
DEFTERIOS: South Park is just east of the area known as L.A. Live, which includes the Staples Center, home of the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, the Nokia Theater, and several hotels, restaurants and bars. All this makes it enticing for those who are looking to live, work and play in the same area.
With more than a half dozen major construction projects underway, and several others cleared to start, South Park expects to see nearly 300,000 square meters of residential and hospitality living come online by 2020, according to commercial real estate firm JLL.
They also say land sales in the area now average nearly $500 per square meter, more than double what the going rate was just five years ago.
International investors are paying attention to those numbers, like Chinese real estate investment firm Greenland Group. They're first U.S. investment is this two-and-a-half hectare parking lot that cost them more than $140 million. They plan to turn it into a massive condominium complex they call Metropolis.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We see a lot of opportunity here for education and also for city -- urban living.
It should be an international community here right in the city.
DEFTERIOS: Greenland expects to spend up to a billion dollars on building the metropolis and expects that projects like theirs, along with planned infrastructure improvements, like the streetcar project in the works, will make downtown living the next trend in Los Angeles.
John Defterios, CNN.
CLANCY: World news headlines are just ahead. Plus, we'll hear more from John Defterios who will join us to explain why Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have never quite had a greater need to enhance relations between their two nations.
CLANCY: This is CONNECT THE WORLD and here are your top stories this hour. Thailand under martial law. It's an attempt to ease months of political protest and violence in the streets. The army chief is urging rival political parties to try to work together to end the crisis. The army denies it has staged a coup. It says it's just trying to restore public order.
Local journalists telling CNN three blasts rocked the city of Jos in central Nigeria today. It's not clear how many people may have been wounded or killed by the blasts. One of the journalists says he saw as many as six people taken to hospitals. It appears two blasts occurred at the busy Terminus Market in the city. The other one, the Abuja Market. We're going to bring you the latest details as they come in here at CNN.
A train collision in Russia killing at least five people, injuring another 15. It happened just southwest of Moscow. Officials say a cargo train derailed and crashed into the end of a passenger train.
China accusing the US of hypocrisy and double standards after Washington charged five Chinese army officers with cyber theft targeting American businesses. China's Foreign Ministry summoned the US ambassador over the charges. It cited the Edward Snowden case and said the US is the one guilty of spying on China. David McKenzie has more reaction to those charges from Beijing.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At best, this indictment is deeply insulting to the Chinese government, in particular, these Wanted posters released by the FBI showing five officers of the People's Liberation Army, some of them in uniform, alleged to have taken part in large-scale hacking to steal trade secrets from US companies.
And the Chinese government has hit back. They summoned the US ambassador to China, Max Baucus, for a dressing down, and they've also called these allegations extremely absurd.
HONG LEI, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): The Chinese government, the Chinese military, have never engaged or participated in any hacker attacks or any so-called cyber thefts of trade secrets.
MCKENZIE: The Chinese say that these allegations are hypocritical, especially in light of the revelations of Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who said that the US was engaged in global hacking and cyber espionage. But the US says that there's a difference between national security work and hacking for trade secrets. But many analysts say that here in China, that distinction is not very clear.
DUNCAN CLARK, CHAIRMAN, BDA: In China, the goal of overtaking the US and becoming the leading economy in the world is something that's shared by the government, by companies, whether they be private or state-owned, and in fact by the Chinese people themselves. So, it's difficult to kind of un-tease a state-driven agenda from what the Chinese people actually want.
MCKENZIE: It's unlikely that these five suspects will ever face trial, but certainly, this issue has frayed relationships between China and the US at a very crucial time.
David McKenzie, CNN, Beijing.
CLANCY: So, tense times between Beijing and Washington. And now that relations between Russia, the US, and Europe have -- well, they've really hit lows we haven't seen since the Cold War -- could it be that Moscow is increasingly looking east?
Russian president Vladimir Putin traveled to China on his first trip there since President Xi Jinping took office last year. The leaders are going to be attending an Asian security summit. The two countries are hoping to sign an energy deal which would see Russian exporting natural gas to China. China needs the gas. So far, the stumbling block has always been the price.
Emerging markets editor John Defterios joins me now, live from St. Petersburg with a few more details. John?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, Jim, this is a big deal on the table. We're looking at some $400 billion, and that is correct, $400 billion over 30 years. But the big one remains a little bit elusive, even though Russia and China have been negotiating for 10 years.
President Putin, as you suggested, going to Shanghai to meet with his counterpart, President Xi Jinping. And the devil is in the detail right now, Jim. There's a gap over pricing. The benchmark used for the European Union is what Russia was hoping would sell off the Chinese.
China suggesting look, we're getting gas supplies right now from central Asia, particularly Turkmenistan, and we're getting it at a lower price. So, if you want to play ball in this region, and one of the largest economies in the world right now, you have to bring the price down.
The timing is very crucial right now, Jim. We're two days ahead of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. I'm standing in the heart of Vladimir Putin's hometown in St. Petersburg. He'd like to deliver a deal before this starts, an iron back moment for Vladimir Putin.
And very importantly, before the election this weekend for Ukraine to suggest I'm still a power, I can pivot to the east and I don't have to worry about the sanctions from the European Union and the United States right now. But the deal is not quite there.
CLANCY: John, what is the political dynamic between these two states? For decades, they were rivals, the Soviet Union, Communist China. But at the same time, there is a greater need, now, for them to work together. Do they have merging interests?
DEFTERIOS: In fact, the interests are there, particularly in the energy sphere. But at the same time, Russia wants to pivot to Asia, very much like the United States. The US, or Washington, doing it for geopolitical reasons, Russia doing it entirely for business reasons: 80 percent of Russia's gas goes into the European Union right now. They want to spread the risk and look to Asia.
And the priority list, Jim, of course, is China number one, South Korea, even negotiate with North Korea to reduce its debt so it can get a pipeline into South Korea. And thirdly, and often overlooked, they're trying to negotiate with India right now, with a giant oil export deal.
All of those things building blocks for Vladimir Putin. But to be candid, Jim, he's very late to the party. He hasn't pivoted to Asia early enough and has this dependence on Europe as Europe has on him for the natural gas supplies.
So far, no sanctions on Gazprom, but Vladimir Putin is telling the Russian people right now, I will move to Asia, where there's growth, and don't worry. I know I had 4 percent growth in 2010, it was only 1 percent last year, perhaps a recession this year, but I'm prepared to resuscitate growth, and I'll do so by looking to Asia.
But the counter argument, he is very late in doing so. And the Chinese are negotiating step-by-step for a much better deal, Jim.
CLANCY: And that better deal may not be so popular at home if he doesn't get the right price. John Defterios there in St. Petersburg, live. John, great to see you.
Well, live from CNN Center, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. And coming up, parliament suspended, embassies closed, renegade generals on the loose. Is Libya slipping toward all-out civil war? Also ahead, scientists dive deep into man's ancient past. Details on their remarkable discovery.
CLANCY: We want to take a moment now to update you on one of the stories that we were covering yesterday. Heavy rains are over in the Balkans, but the worst flooding in more than a century is still a major problem in many states there. Swollen rivers are expected to reach new peaks as floodwaters move downstream.
People again preparing for the worst. They've already seen it. Though the waters are receding upstream, people are getting a look at the damage that they caused when they were there trying to do a little bit of cleanup work like you see here. Bosnia and Herzegovina says one million people have been affected, more than two dozen people are reported to have lost their lives in this series of storms.
All right, let's return to one of our top stories today on CONNECT THE WORLD, and that's the deteriorating situation in Libya. Fighters loyal to a renegade local general are facing off against Islamist militias loyal to the interim government.
In the last 24 hours, there has been a noticeable boost in support, though, for General Khalifa Haftar, self-proclaimed Libyan National Army as army unites are joining his side.
Now, the recent outbreak of violence across Libya grew out of a power vacuum that was left by the ouster of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Our Atika Shubert looks at the man who is fighting to keep Islamists from filling that void.
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An audacious attack on Libya's parliament that has shattered the country's fragile government, and now splits its armed forces. And the man behind the attack? A renegade general, Khalifa Haftar. But who is he, and where did he come from?
Once a staunch supporter of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, he was cast aside during Libya's disastrous war with Chad in the 1980s, and Gadhafi abandoned Haftar and several hundred other Libyan soldiers, who were held as prisoners of war.
He set up a rebel brigade against the Gadhafi regime, but eventually sought asylum in the US, living a quite suburban life in Virginia for the next 20 years, fueling speculation that he may have been involved with the CIA.
SHUBERT: In the power vacuum left behind by Gadhafi, Haftar returned to Libya, only one of many rebel commanders. But Libya's nascent government has failed to maintain control over this vast desert country. Its key cities have fractured into fiefdoms, controlled by militias, many of them Islamic militants.
Haftar is now leading the charge in Benghazi, where Islamist and Jihadi groups have grown in power and influence since the revolution. And he's now gaining popularity and power as a result. He's won the backing of Libya's special forces, the best-trained unit in the country's military. But his grab for power has also threatened to plunge the country into civil war.
Libya's parliament chief has ordered the Central Shield of Libya, a loose alliance of Islamic militia, to defend against Haftar's forces.
As Libya teeters on the brink, the US and other nations have readied planes to evacuate their citizens if this already lawless situation deteriorates even further. Whatever his ambitions, it's not yet clear whether General Khalifa Haftar will be able to restore order by force.
Atika Shubert, CNN, London.
CLANCY: So, is Libya now really on the brink of a civil war, or has the civil war really never ended since the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi? To answer some of the questions about what has happened what lies ahead, we're joined by Jason Pack.
He's a researcher of Libyan history at Cambridge University. He's co- author of "Libya's Faustian Bargains: Breaking the Appeasement Cycle." That's a think tank report published earlier this month by the Atlantic Council.
First of all, a little -- a word about General Haftar. Very interesting character. Is he the CIA's man in Tripoli?
JASON PACK, PRESIDENT, LIBYA-ANALYSIS.COM: No, I don't believe so. And I don't even think Haftar is that important. In the little set-up piece you did, it was stated that it was Haftar's militias or armies or brigades who attacked the GNC, which is the parliament building in Tripoli. That's not technically correct. It was the Zintani Militia.
He's an attractive news story, but what we're seeing is a much larger movement here between a larger anti-Islamist coalition and Misratan and Islamist and Jihadist elements on the other side. Haftar is claiming to be a figurehead for this anti-Islamist movement, but he's not even one of the most important players.
CLANCY: All right. But moving on from there, and that's good analysis, thank you for that. But moving on from there, what will bring Libya together? Or can anything do that because of the way one crisis or another has tuned down, if we can use that kind of a -- let me create a phrase there -- by those that have the power simply mollifying demands of people from all different kinds of groups?
PACK: You hit on a key theme there, Jim. Yes, there's the dynamic of appeasement that I've written about extensively, and this is whereby the weak central authorities who barely have any institutions and they don't control an army have to appease the myriad groups that challenge them.
However, in terms of moving towards a solution or a next phase, what we've seen now is the logical conclusion of dynamics that have been playing out in Libya particularly since February of this year, where all of the myriad militias have essentially fractured into two or two and a half groups.
For example, the Zintanis and Haftar's movement and the special forces, called the Saiqa that were mentioned fall into this anti-Islamist camp, and then these other groups like the GNC, which is the congress, and the Misratan militias and the Muslim Brotherhood, and then also more extremist elements, like those who killed the American ambassador in 2012, all working in the Islamist camp.
And the country is now very, very fractured into two groups. I only hope that a grand bargain can come from this and the two groups can find a way to do some kind of power-sharing agreement. And that does to me seem more likely than a civil war scenario.
CLANCY: When we look at trying to help Libya, it would seem it is broken, and no one can really put it back together again. This isn't regional. It doesn't appear to be strictly ethnic, in terms of the various tribal groups that are there, although there's elements of all of that in it. What can you do to put this back together again?
PACK: Well, it's certainly not the job of outsiders to put it back together, as it were. However, I would say that the issues are local, that the cleavages in Libya are local.
And when I said that what we really are seeing is this Zintan versus Misrata struggles, those are two towns that emerged to prominence because of their role in overthrowing Gadhafi. And they are leading other towns in other smaller groupings.
How to be put together is a web of different local groups working together to make arrangements at the local level with other groups. Because the center of power in Libya is weak, but these local groups are quite strong.
So any solution is going to happen when local leaders work together and they make a grand bargain to, say, for example, have new elections or agree on how the constitutional settlement might play out.
And I think an important thing to interject here is that Libya doesn't have any ethnic or sectarian cleavages in the way that, say, Iraq or Lebanon might do. And it doesn't have a legacy or history of civil war. So, Libyans are loathe to kill each other and are likely to push things to the brink as they've done, but figure out a peaceful or not particularly violent way of resolving their differences.
CLANCY: All right. Jason, I'm curious, though. You say the problem is appeasement, where the leadership --
CLANCY: -- trying to satisfy some of these local groups.
CLANCY: But you say that the solution is essentially, all right, guys, work it out among yourselves. This is a kind of power --
PACK: No, I would word it differently. It's about creating a web between the central government and the different local groups. So, for example, the one level in Libya that functions is the local councils. They're working for education, for road-building.
What isn't functioning is the government. It's not able to pump oil or make infrastructure plans. You need to connect the government, now, to the one level that's functioning, and that's the local councils.
So, that's decentralization. Connecting the local level to the central level to create something like a functional government, and not federalism, which is ceding all power or appeasing the local level. I know this may sound like a nuance, but this is the only way forward.
CLANCY: All right. As we watch it, you say it's not likely to shake apart, but a lot of the people there are tired. There is no single figure, there's no single political party. Is Libya a country in need of a leader?
PACK: Well, that's for the Libyans to decide and not me. You're right that there is a desire among some people in the Libyan populations for a Sisi-like figure, and here I'm referring to the general in Egypt who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood-elected prime minister.
However, Libya doesn't have a charismatic leader like that, and I don't believe that Khalifa Haftar is likely to be that individual. So yes, there's a craving for a strong man, and there's a craving for an anti- Islamist figure. The majority of the population is against the Islamists, and an anti-Islamist figure would win in open elections.
But there's a void. There's not only a void of institution, there's a void of necessary charismatic personalities. And frankly, the only way that that's going to be transcended is the constitutional process.
I have great faith in Ali Tarhouni, an American-educated, very savvy individual who's been elected the head of the constitutional assembly. He's smartly sitting out this current kerfuffle, but he's going to wait and plod through and try to make a constitution. And hopefully, legitimate authority can be put into place once some kind of grand bargain between the different interested parties emerges.
CLANCY: Jason Pack, a researcher of Libyan history at Cambridge University. Jason, you live in an interesting time for your profession. Thank you very much for joining us.
PACK: It's been my pleasure.
CLANCY: Well, coming up right after this short break on CONNECT THE WORLD, a new discovery at the bottom of the ocean floor shedding light onto the origins of man in the Americas.
CLANCY: New research has revealed the skeleton of a girl discovered in a Mexican cave is at least 12,000 years old. And as CNN's Nick Parker shows us, this discovery is shedding new light on how the Americas were settled.
NICK PARKER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Divers made their way through an underground system of flooded caverns, or cenotes, near the Mexican resort of Tulum. The conditions are challenging. They need to swim 1200 meters before reaching a large cavern known as the Black Hole.
It was here in 2007 where one diver discovered a human skeleton, now believed to be at least 12,000 years old. She was named Naia, thought to be around 16 when she died, and could not be removed from the site.
PILAR LUNAR, HEAD OF UNDERWATER ARCHAEOLOGY, INAH: There are challenges, but there are also benefits. This site was never touched since 13 to 12,000 years ago. So, it's pristine. It's fantastic.
On the other hand, it's very difficult. None of the scientists have gone inside the cave. It's like working remote sensing.
PARKER: Archaeologists formed a unique link with expert divers, who also discovered 26 mammals, including the now-extinct saber tooth tiger, shown here. Photographs were closely analyzed, but the priority was to trace the human remains.
JOAQUIN ARROYO, HEAD OF LABORATORIES, INAH: We have to have a molar out of this human, called Naia. And that one was brought out of the cenote, and was taken samples out of it.
PARKER: After independent carbon dating, they discovered a link to Siberia in Russia, meaning Naia's descendants crossed over the Bering Strait when it was a land mass, and into what's now the American continent.
LUNAR: So, this Naia is the oldest one, the most complete skeleton, genetically complete as well, that has allowed us to prove that. And that's fantastic.
PARKER: Mexicans we spoke to seemed to welcome the news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not so different than we think sometimes. Not more division, but more connected, yes.
PARKER: The government is now stressing the need to preserve the thousands of other cenotes in Mexico in the hope that they, too, may yield more historic treasure.
Nick Parker, CNN, Mexico City.
CLANCY: The team at CONNECT THE WORLD would like to hear form you, facebook.com/CNNconnect. Have your say. And remember, you can always tweet to me @ClancyCNN.
Now, today's -- I got a little too hurried there. Today's Parting Shot. We're going to return to Thailand. Despite the ongoing threat of political violence and economic instability, much of the capital, Bangkok, has carried on as normal throughout the recent months of protest.
But one part of the city has seen some sweeping change. CONNECT THE WORLD producer Nicol Nicolson shows us the transformation taking place in Bangkok's answer to Central Park.
NICOL NICOLSON, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): Lumphini Park is an urban oasis like no other. In the middle of this heaving metropolis, home to more than 8 million people, other forms of life are also quite at home.
Monitor lizards, about as long as the average is tall, are here in huge numbers, along with snakes and turtles. The latter often end up as the lizard's lunch, which certainly gives the picnicking humans something to talk about.
But Lumphini Park has seen change in recent months. On January 13th this year, opponents of then prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, vowed to shut down Bangkok until she stepped down. Many major roads were closed off, and the park became a tented city within a city.
Protest rallies began to drown out the natural tranquility, as thousands fought for the removal of a leader they saw as a puppet for her exiled brother, Taksim. Shops and first aid stands cropped up among the tents, with the population of the park determined to be self-sufficient within their new home for as long as it took.
Yingluck may no longer be prime minister, but Thailand's future leadership has never been in greater doubt. So for now, what was once the very essence of urban calm remains a living, breathing part of a protest movement that shows no sign of turning silent.
CLANCY: Stay tuned to CNN for much more on this developing story, the one in Thailand. Paula Hancocks has traveled to Bangkok. She's going to be bringing us all the latest as it happens. I'm Jim Clancy, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Glad we've had you with us.