When a militia holding Libya’s eastern ports loaded a North Korean-flagged tanker with oil earlier this month, the Libyan parliament sacked its own prime minister and turned to U.S. commandos to bring its cargo back.

For days the government had threatened to blow up the tanker, called Morning Glory, if it left port. When it sailed off, pro-government militiamen even gave chase on boats carrying jeeps mounted with anti-aircraft and cannons.

But that failed, and when the tanker reached international waters Libya’s parliament fired Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, who fled to Europe. A few days later, U.S. Navy SEALS boarded the tanker to end the debacle. […]