This is a little awkward, but I just figured out that the guys on the Norwegian Nobel Committee haven't been following this column, because if they had they surely wouldn't have awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union this week. I mean, World Peace Update has been running for 21 weeks, and not once has it failed to mention at least one EU state burning itself to the ground. It was only last week that students all over Italy rioted over education cuts. Norwegian Nobel Committee: check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Anyway, this week the United Kingdom and France went at it over some fish, while Egypt, Senegal, and Syria thought it'd be nice to join in the festivities, too.
UK AND FRANCE
The age-old cross-channel rivalry between the UK and France was sort of reignited this week, but this time it had nothing to do with expat Brits taking over the Dordogne or the French scaling the cliffs of Dover. What happened was that a group of British trawlers scouring the depths of the English Channel (note the name, Frenchies) for scallops found themselves surrounded by a fleet of 40 French fishing vessels and came under attack from a barrage of stones and flares.
According to the Brits, the boats were in international waters, but when they called the French coast guards to ask them to intervene, they didn't seem very willing to do so. But they did at least show up, which is more than I expected from the Frogs.
Anyway, the whole problem is basically that even though the French coast is rich in lucrative scallop beds, French boats have been banned from fishing on them by their own government. British boats haven't, so they swooped in and have been hoovering up those tasty little fuckers to their heart's content, like an English milkman banging a French maid while her husband's away waving white flags at foreign soldiers.
It was only recently that the French were allowed back and—as you can imagine—the atmosphere got a little heavy once they realized the Brits had already gotten the best catch. The latest confrontation was caught on camera by French TV crews. Conveniently, the video doesn't show any of the stone and flare throwing, or the burning of English rugby shirts (no one in England cares about rugby, you idiots), which makes people think the attack was premeditated.
On their return to the United Kingdom, the fishermen called for protection from the British Navy. If this marks the beginning of another Anglo-French conflict, I'm going to be a loyal Englishman and grab my harpoon gun and head for the coast. Our monarch needs her scallops.
It's been just over 100 days since Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi came to power in Egypt, and the guy has already had to fight an insurgency in the Sinai, deal with getting caught adjusting himself on camera and, most recently, attempt to put down some civil unrest on the streets of Cairo. This latest round of political beat downs started on Friday, when liberal secularist protesters in Tahrir Square started chanting against Morsi after Mubarak-era thugs were acquitted of the deaths of revolutionary protesters in the "Battle of the Camels."
Standing on the other side of the square, although equally angry at the acquittals, Muslim brotherhood supporters got offended by the chants and so trashed the liberals' stage, driving them away from the square. The victory was short-lived however, since the liberals soon returned in greater numbers and there ensued a stone-throwing battle of epic proportions. Hundreds were injured and the fighting continued into the night, tensions kept warm by Molotov cocktails.
One could say that, compared to Europe and South America, Africa has managed to largely avoid football hooliganism, but I guess there's a first for everything. The latest country to enter the rather undesirable club of football issues is Senegal, where on Saturday fans of the national football team trashed their own stadium in Dakar with rocks and trash aimed at Ivory Coast players and fans. The two countries were playing each other in a vital must-win match for the African Cup of Nations, the second of a two-legged qualifier. Senegal was already 4-2 down before the match started, so after Didier Drogba pushed the Ivory Coast 2-0 up with a penalty, the shit hit the fan. The Ivorian fans had to flee onto the pitch to escape the violence, while the players had to be escorted out of the building by riot cops. The match was quickly abandoned and the Senegalese were disqualified from the ACON.
No need to worry (though I'm extremely disappointed), but I'm not writing this from a foxhole in Turkey while dodging Syrian shells. I'm actually sitting at home drowning in self-loathing after losing a FIFA tournament. My point is: Turkey and Syria didn't go to war like international observers warned they might. This is still a possibility, but the tit-for-tat shelling has stopped and the media have once again switched their focus to the plight of the rebels who are yet to receive the ammunition they have been calling for.
The latter, however, do seem to have solved part of their supply problem, after managing to capture a number of air defense bases including one near Aleppo on Friday. After a fierce battle that involved a number of FSA units, the Taaneh air base was taken and its stocks looted, including many anti-air missiles the FSA are in desperate need of. Within days the anti-air missiles the FSA so desperately needed were put to use, and one more regime fighter jet was shot down.
In other opposition successes, the FSA were able to take control of the town of Maarat al-Numan, which is strategically situated on the highway that links Aleppo and Damascus. This means that they were able to effectively cut off the regime's forces in Aleppo, relieving the embattled rebel forces in the city and stretching the Syrian army, who are themselves under immense pressure due to having to fight on so many fronts.
This of course did not go down well with the government, who proceeded to decimate the town from the air using cluster bomb munitions. Banned by most nations, cluster bombs release hundreds of bomblets that can remain unexploded and pose threats for the civilian population for decades. These attacks can be seen as both desperate and ruthless, not only making it hard for the FSA to move around the captured territory but also posing problems for the regime, were they ever to take the area back.
Check back next week to see whether I'm helping to sink a French armada or crying over computer game losses in my vinegar-stained boxer shorts.
Follow Henry on Twitter: @Henry_Langston