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How Syria's Rebels Communicate In the Face of Internet Shutdown 80

jamaicaplain writes "In an extensive look at rebel communications, the New York Times reports that, 'In a demonstration of their growing sophistication and organization, Syrian rebels responded to a nationwide shutdown of the Internet by turning to satellite technology to coordinate within the country and to communicate with outside activists. To prepare, they have spent months smuggling communications equipment like mobile handsets and portable satellite phones into the country.'"
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How Syria's Rebels Communicate In the Face of Internet Shutdown

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  • by reiserifick ( 2616539 ) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @10:44AM (#42154289)
    ... as long as your government isn't powerful enough to force Skype to let them in the back door...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:14AM (#42154395)

    Yeah, but the established power they were fighting didn't have the Internet either. There's an asymmetry of power when the establishment has the ability to cut off a major form of communication that they and the rest of the world retain the advantage of using.

  • by a_hanso ( 1891616 ) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @11:28AM (#42154459) Journal
    William Wallace and co. would have fared a lot worse if King Edward had ordered the English Royal Air Force jets to pound their positions with precision bombs. And Spartacus against well placed snipers? And Washington against a walkie-talkie coordinated British assault?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 01, 2012 @01:39PM (#42155155)

    Of course the syrian goverment didn't do it, the US did it, to hide the fact that they sent a nuke on Damascus, and rebuilt it. Now they turn internet back on, and soon we'll see "rebels" take Damscus, but it's now all a show with actors, because everyone in Damascus is dead. They did the same thing in Tripoli.

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Saturday December 01, 2012 @06:28PM (#42157127)

    There's an asymmetry of power when the establishment has the ability to cut off a major form of communication that they and the rest of the world retain the advantage of using.

    I actually view cutting off the internet as an act of desperation. When viewed with hindsight, in the middle east at least, it has always signaled a fall of government.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 02, 2012 @06:33AM (#42160285)

    In your above list, Iran was never under Soviet influence. It was one of the countries hostile to both the US and the Soviet Union, and since Saddam was one of the closest allies of the Soviets, that didn't do much for Iran-Soviet relations.

    Syria is a secular state by Arab/Muslim standards, no arguing that. As was Iraq. But it's worth looking into the internals of all that. One thing worth remembering is that when a Muslim country calls itself an 'Islamic state', the question comes up of what is the true Islam, if there are multiple Islamic sects within the country, and typically, it's determined by whoever is the majority. For instance, Saudi Arabia and Iran are both Islamic states. In Saudi Arabia, it means that Sunnis practicing the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence run things, while in Iran, Shias practicing the Khomenei school run things. A Sunni who would be perfectly halal in Saudi Arabia would find himself treated like an apostate in Iran. Or a Shia who is perfectly fine in Iran would be treated as badly as other Infidels in Saudi Arabia.

    Saddam was a devout Sunni Muslim - he had a Qur'an written in his blood, and added 'Allahu Akbar' to the Iraqi flag before Operation Desert Storm. So why didn't he ever declare Iraq an Islamic state? Reason is simple - then Iraq would have been a Shiite Islamic state, and not a Sunnite Islamic state, since the majority of Iraq's Muslims are Shia. In which event, the Sunnis would have been persecuted (as they actually are now in the new 'democratic' Iraq, as well as Christians, who have fled the country to Syria, and who would have to flee that country again if it falls to the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood linked rebels).

    That was the whole rationale behind the Baath Party []. It was founded by Michel Aflaq, a Syrian Christian, and fused Arab nationalist, pan-Arabism, and Arab socialist interests. The same things that Islam promotes, so why didn't they just close ranks with the majority Muslim sects in their countries? Reason is simple - Muslim countries don't follow the concept of 'Live & let live' - if a Muslim minority group in a Muslim country dared let democracy, as in simple majority rule, prevail, it would mean opening to door to persecution. Just look at examples like Pakistan, which is democratic, but where even Shias (forget about Christians, Sikhs or Hindus) are routinely targeted in attacks. So the Baathists came up w/ this ideology, in which they rallied all the non majority groups around them. In Iraq, it was the minority Sunnis, Chaldean Christians, Turks and some Kurds (although Saddam had his problems with the Kurds as well), and backed up by the military, they kept an iron leash over Iraq's Shias. In Syria, the coalition was the minority Alawites, minority Shias, Christians, Kurds and Druze. So both countries were 'secular', but only because being 'Islamic' would have meant the evisceration of Saddam's Sunnis in Iraq, or Assad's Alawites in Syria, not because of any belief in genuine religious pluralism. Or else, Saddam would never have supported Hamas, and Assad would never have supported Hizbullah.

    In fact, once one knows this, one would know the reasons for the enmity between Saddam and Hafez al Assad. If one recalls, during the 8 year war between Iran and Iraq, Syria was the lone Arab country that supported Iran (although initially, Libya did as well, but switched sides later) against Iraq. More surprisingly, during Operation Desert Shield too, Syria, despite being an adversary of the US due to its support to Hizbullah, allowed the US to use Syria as a forwarding base for operations against Iraq. Reason is simple - despite both being Baathists, Saddam and Assad had conflicting interests - the former was trying to establish the supremacy of his country's Sunnis at the expense of the majority Shias, while the latter was trying to establish the supremacy of his country's Alawites, at the expense of the Sunnis. This is why a lot

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