World View: Huge Fuel Depot Fire Threatens Tripoli with Explosion

This morning's key headlines from

  • Huge fuel depot fire threatens Tripoli Libya with explosion
  • Liberia closes national borders to prevent spread of Ebola virus
  • Kerry shuts Egypt and Palestinian Authority out of Gaza 'peace plan'

Huge fuel depot fire threatens Tripoli Libya with explosion

A huge fuel depot near the airport in Libya's capital Tripoli is burning out of control and spreading. The tanks contains some 20 million gallons of petrol and fuel. If the fire is not brought under control, it could ignite liquid gas nearby, triggering a much larger explosion and causing a humanitarian and environmental disaster. Densely populated Tripoli is being evacuated within a 3-km radius of the airport. Authorities are asking for international assistance in fighting the fire. 

The fuel depot fire is the result of the growing tribal warfare in Libya that we described yesterday. It's believed that the Islamist militias, centered in Misurata, launched missiles into fuel depot in order to trigger the fire and explosion. Anti-Islamist militias, centered in Zintan, that had been fighting the Islamists had been defending the airport. 

With anarchy spreading, many foreigners in Libya are fleeing the country. On Monday, the Netherlands, Philippines, Austria, China, and India became the next countries to evacuate their citizens and embassy staff. The United States, Britain, United Nations, and Turkey have already closed their embassies. AFP and Al-Jazeera

Liberia closes national borders to prevent spread of Ebola virus

Liberia is closing all its borders and is instituting a new travel policy to inspect and test all outgoing and incoming passengers in the hope of slowing the spread of Ebola. Ebola has already killed 660 people across the region since the outbreak began in February. 

This is the worst Ebola outbreak in history, not only because of the numbers killed but also because of its geographic spread. Some officials in Doctors Without Borders are expressing the fear that the number of Ebola patients identified so far are "just the tip of the iceberg." There are many villages in western Africa that are not easily accessible, and there have been stories, perhaps only rumors, of entire villages disappearing because of Ebola. It's possible, though not certain, that Ebola is far more widespread than is currently known. Ebola is not airborne, but it's spread through physical contact. Reuters

Kerry shuts Egypt and Palestinian Authority out of Gaza 'peace plan'

Palestinian Authority (PA/PLO) officials are furious at an apparent attempt by US Secretary of State John Kerry, whether by clumsiness or by intention, to shut Egypt and the PA out of a Gaza "peace conference" held in Paris on Saturday and a related proposed "peace agreement." The Paris conference was attended by Kerry and representatives of Turkey and Qatar, as well as France, Germany, Britain, and Italy. But Israel, Egypt, and the PA were not invited. 

Turkey and Qatar are allies of Hamas. Israeli officials say that Kerry's proposed "peace agreement," which has not been officially released to the public, meets all the demands and talking points of Hamas (ending the "siege"), but does not address any of the security concerns of Israel (disarming Hamas). The implication was not that Kerry is malevolent, but that he doesn't understand the issues. 

Even worse, Kerry's plan undermined a peace plan that had previously been offered by Egypt and was agreed to by Israel and the PA. 

According to a statement by a furious Palestinian Authority official: 

Kerry proposed his initiative after we were very close to a comprehensive agreement guaranteeing the lifting of the siege on Gaza and obtaining all the Palestinian demands. If the issue was lifting the siege, abolishing the buffer zones, opening the crossings, and expanding the fishing zones, we could have obtained this on Wednesday [July 23]. An announcement of [this achievement] was ready for publication – but (Hamas political bureau head Khaled) Mashaal called a press conference and destroyed the [PLO] initiative.

Noting that Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has declared a terrorist organization, another PA official said: 

The Palestinian leadership and people promote every Arab, regional, or international effort to stop Israel's war, stop the bloodletting, and defend the Palestinian people in the [Gaza Strip] – while the conference and the forces participating in it prove that it was not innocent and does not strive to stop Israel's shedding of Palestinian blood. Its objective was to circumvent the Egyptian initiative and Egypt's role, and to plan to return to shaping the region according to the American vision and according to the U.S.-Israeli plan that will restore the Muslim Brotherhood to their status.

It seems that every three or four weeks it's necessary to talk about yet one more foreign policy debacle by John Kerry, who gives every sign of not having the vaguest clue what's going on in the world. Kerry burst onto the scene in 1971 when he declared to the Senate that U.S. Army soldiers were rapists and torturers and no better than Nazi stormtroopers, and he's been belittling the army and the United States ever since. As Secretary of State, he says and does one stupid thing after another and lurches from one foreign policy debacle to the next. His boss, President Obama, does no better, allowing the US to suffer one humiliation after another. 

It's worth repeating that this isn't just a matter of "there's nothing that Obama can do." This is all happening because of a major policy reversal by the Obama administration. America has been "policeman of the world," since President Harry Truman's Truman Doctrine of 1947. Every President since then has fulfilled that commitment until now, because the cost of a small military action was always better than a repeat of something as enormous as World War II. President Obama has repudiated that commitment. The analogy is the New York City police. They don't have to declare all out war to fight crime. But if they simply stopped policing and told all the criminals that they would negotiate an end to crime, then crime would soar. By repudiating the Truman Doctrine, the Policeman of the World has said it would stop policing, with the result of one foreign policy debacle after another. Washington Post and Memri and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and France 24

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Tripoli, Libya, Misurata, Zintan, Liberia, Ebola, John Kerry, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, PA, PLO, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, Gaza, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Harry Truman, Truman Doctrine 

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