Today the internet was cut off across the whole of Syria. Max Fisher says the blackout poses three questions: 1. Is this blackout proactive or reactive?
In other words, is the Syrian government shutting down the Web as a precursor to some future event, or is the step a reaction to things that have already happened? The government has at times cut off connectivity in certain areas in advance of military operations there. Many observers seem to fear an impending major counterattack by the Syrian military, which has experienced a steady trickle of small setbacks. The closure of the Damascus airport is fueling speculation that the military may focus such an effort there.
It’s also possible, though, that the move is simply meant to slow the rebels’ recent gains, online and on the ground. James Miller at Enduring America writes: “A disconnected insurgency, and activists who cannot access each other or the outside world, will have trouble galvanizing their supporters or organizing the final push. Meanwhile, if bad news can be hidden away from Assad’s own soldiers, defections may not increase as much as they would otherwise.” [Continue reading…]
Responding to questions about the blackout, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said today:
[W]e’ve provided [the opposition] some 2000 communication kits since this effort began. These are all kinds of things – computers, cameras, phones – they are all designed to be independent from and circumvent the Syrian network …. precisely to keep them free from regime tampering, interference and interception.
If this assurance that these devices cannot be intercepted turns out to be mistaken, this could explain why the internet has been shut down: so that the Syrian government can flush out the users.