World Peace Update
Friends, this is the 20th World Peace Update and to celebrate, I've been listening to the new Godspeed album while browsing through heart-breaking stories of slaughter and harrowing images of chaos to gift to you, because that's just the kind of nice guy I am. (You're welcome, punks.) Here's to another 20 weeks of mayhem.
It seems the cracks in this old, sanction-swamped regime are beginning to show. While the Iranian government is busy playing a game of chicken with both the United States and Israel (the loser gets nuked, btw), its citizens are struggling with rising food prices and a free-falling currency.
Last week, the Iranian rial fell by a whole third against the Yankee dollar, which was kind of a bummer for Iranian money dealers so they came out in force last Wednesday in a rare show of defiance against the state. Even more curiously, they were later joined in protest by the union of traders from the Grand Bazaar, which, according to the BBC, is one of the regime's chief financial allies and helped bankroll the Islamic revolution in 1979.
They were quickly dispersed by the police, who used with tear gas and batons, but kudos for finally pulling your face out of the regime's arse, guys!
On Friday, students all across Italy gave themselves a long weekend to moan about the spending cuts on education brought in by technocrat Prime Minister Mario Monti and to fight with the police. Turin, Rome and Milan were among the cities that got the nastier taste of the violence, into which even the Book Bloc wandered. In case you are wondering, the Book Bloc is what protestgoers have come to call the shields made of book covers that first appeared in Rome in 2010. Turns out they like Marx. Weird!
On Saturday, angry residents of the Tunisian holiday island of Djerba argued with police over the re-opening of an unofficial rubbish dump. Which is hardly newsworthy I guess, until you hear that this argument caused 50 police officers to be injured and reinforcements to be drafted in from the capital, Tunis. Apparently the local police couldn't deal with the barrage of stones and petrol bombs that took over Guellala, the town nearest the waste dump.
Turns out local authorities had promised that the dump would remain closed but reneged on their promise later, announcing that the site is to remain open until next year. I've visited a couple of rubbish dumps in my life and really couldn't bear the smell, so I don't even want to think of what I'd do if I had to live next to one. Definitely a good enough reason to want to set fire to some cops.
After Syria rather foolishly bombarded the Turkish border town of Akcakale with mortars, hitting a family home and killing five civilians last Wednesday, Turkey returned fire, so for the past week Turkey and Syria have basically just been shelling each other. The Syrian attack prompted the Turkish parliament to hold an emergency vote on sanctioning cross-border actions by the military, which passed by 302 ayes to 129 nays. The government was quick to stress that this was not a declaration of war but still the passing of the motion didn't go peacefully, with thousands of protesters squaring up to water cannons in Ankara and marching in Istanbul.
In latest news, the Turkish military deployed extra fighter jets to its border with Syria, which can both mean they are trying to bolster security and prepare for attack. A full Turkish military assault against them is hardly something the Syrian regime is looking forward to, well, because Turkey has been fighting a brutal Kurdish insurgency for over 20 years with a very well equipped and well-manned army. It goes without saying that the Syrian regime – which has been struggling against a lightly armed Free Syrian Army – wouldn't stand much of a chance. Moreover, piling on the pressure on Syria, Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Nato has, "all necessary plans in place to protect and to defend Turkey if necessary".
Check back next week to see if I'm running around southern Turkey dodging mortar shells or curled up on my Febrezed couch writing about the people who riot for rubbish.
Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston