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The Last Resort?
November 29, 2012 9:14 AM   Subscribe

According to multiple sources, as of a few hours ago, Syria has been disconnected from the internet as rebels converge on the capital in an attempt to shut down the airport.

Frequently updated live blog.
posted by empath (53 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
This Akamai graphic really illustrates the dramatic drop in traffic. As does this Google graphic. Renesys was the first to break it this morning, from what I can tell.
posted by gemmy at 9:23 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hate to cheer on violence, but in the absence of any realistic non-violent solution leading to greater freedom in Syria... Go rebels.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:26 AM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Al Jazeera also has a live blog. While looking through it, I saw one of the most recent updates:
Syria has strewn landmines along its borders with Lebanon and Turkey, making it the only country worldwide to use the weapons this year, and is increasingly dropping cluster munitions on civilian areas, campaigners said on Thursday.

Nearly two dozen Syrians, many of them children, are known to have been killed or maimed by Soviet-made mines in border crossing areas so far this year, but the true number of casualties is probably higher, they said.
Unbelievable.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:26 AM on November 29, 2012


...leading to greater freedom in Syria

Is it? That's the big question, isn't it.
posted by Behemoth at 9:31 AM on November 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I really hope that when/if the rebels throw out the current regime, they aren't bitter for not getting more help from the West. It really seems like helping the rebels is the Right Thing to Do, but there's really no good way to do it. Direct military intervention is way too complicated (and potentially disastrous), NOT intervening seems like helpless hand-wringing in the face of the murder of civilians... :(
posted by scaryblackdeath at 9:32 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is it?

Given the amount of car bombing that the rebels are doing, I'm skeptical.
posted by empath at 9:33 AM on November 29, 2012


This is hardly surprising given how much the use of cell phones and network technology assists in coordinating rebel efforts. I wouldn't be surprised if governments get better at selectively shutting down systems, so that they can maintain a facade of normality internally while also disrupting the elements they don't like.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 9:38 AM on November 29, 2012


I really hope that when/if the rebels throw out the current regime, they aren't bitter for not getting more help from the West.

After the past 10-odd years, I think the Middle East's view of 'help from the West' is... well I don't think they'll be all that bitter is what I'm saying.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:41 AM on November 29, 2012 [7 favorites]


Assad left it too late, he is going to go out the Qadaffi way. I am not entirely displeased that we won't be seeing him in the Hague.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:41 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really hope that when/if the rebels throw out the current regime, they aren't bitter for not getting more help from the West.

I really hope that when/if the rebels throw out the current regime, they aren't bitter from decades of oppression by various minority groups and ready for vengence.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:46 AM on November 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


From the Al Jazeera live blog.

Officials tell the Associated Press that the US is preparing to recognise Syria's opposition council as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in the coming weeks.

also:

Assad left it too late, he is going to go out the Qadaffi way. I am not entirely displeased that we won't be seeing him in the Hague.

Maybe. Another possibility is an independent Allawite state. Assuming the rebels don't just massacre all of them.
posted by empath at 9:47 AM on November 29, 2012


Assad is evil, but I do wonder what rough beast is slouching its way towards Bethleham.
posted by angrycat at 9:54 AM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I agree with Meatbomb on this one. Assad, like Qaddafi before him, like many other dictators, is blind to the inevitability of his downfall. This is not to say that I'm in favor of him being beaten to death and dragged through the streets, but it seems like the inevitable conclusion.
posted by Mister_A at 9:55 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, I am very concerned that the young women in empath's link, wearing T-shirts, with their hair exposed, will fare substantially worse under whatever takes the place of Assad. I am concerned that all Syrian women will suffer greatly under an Islamist regime, which, while not a certainty, seems very likely to take the place of Assad.
posted by Mister_A at 9:57 AM on November 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


I really hope that when/if the rebels throw out the current regime, they aren't bitter for not getting more help from the West.

What happens to those chemical weapons, for instance?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on November 29, 2012


Can we grow up please? [despair]
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:09 AM on November 29, 2012


Also, I am very concerned that the young women in empath's link, wearing T-shirts, with their hair exposed, will fare substantially worse under whatever takes the place of Assad. I am concerned that all Syrian women will suffer greatly under an Islamist regime, which, while not a certainty, seems very likely to take the place of Assad.

Those women may be the daughters of the rebels, by the way. Like on the other side of the Lebanese mountain chain, the minority Christians and Shia tend to be more conservative. I once saw three girls going down the street in Damascus, hand-in-hand. One had a bare midriff and skin-tight jeans, one had a simple head scarf and long sleeves, and the third was in a full black sack with gloves. A Syrian friend who was with me said they were probably sisters.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:10 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I do wonder what rough beast is slouching its way towards Bethleham.

Bethlehem will wait, I'm more worried about what will befall Latakia in the short term.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:15 AM on November 29, 2012


Yeah that was me being too florid and not so much, say, worrying about israel
posted by angrycat at 10:26 AM on November 29, 2012


Given the amount of car bombing that the rebels are doing, I'm skeptical.

The British called American revolutionaries terrorists for sniping and not wearing uniforms. Car bombs are simply the state of the art in asymmetrical warfare, and the Syrian rebels are wildly outgunned. If the US were occupied or had a facist coup, there would be IEDs and car bombs all over the place, if not homemade drone kamikazes made out of remote control model planes.
posted by msalt at 11:01 AM on November 29, 2012 [11 favorites]


Got to say, I'm baffled --- doesn't Assad see how the situation is worsening for him daily? If the airport is held by the rebels, then that's just one more possible escape route closed off, and I'm guessing that driving a convoy is already out of the question (look how well that worked for Gaddafi....) I mean, sure, a dictator wants to hold onto power, but this just seems like a willful refusal to face the true situation.

And after all, not all dictators are blind like this: Baby Doc got his butt out of Haiti, and Idi Amin escaped Uganda, and they didn't seem, at the time, any more or less realistic than Assad or Gaddafi. Heck, even Mussolini saw the end was coming, although he left it too late.
posted by easily confused at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Vanity Fair should again interview Mrs. First Lady Assad now before it's too late.
posted by Renoroc at 12:36 PM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Renoroc: I think it was Vogue that did the fawning interview (which subsequently vanished into the ether).
posted by orrnyereg at 1:05 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


If the US were occupied or had a facist coup, there would be IEDs and car bombs all over the place

No, our well-regulated militia of scrappy high school kids will take care of that with their many defensive firearms.
posted by aaronetc at 1:25 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Given the amount of car bombing that the rebels are doing

For one thing, "the rebels" are not exactly a cohesive ideological whole. There are a wide variety of factions any of whom has a beef or two with the Assad regime and feels they'll have a better shot in the next one.

Secondly, there's reason to believe the recent car-bombings against civilian targets -- Christians and Druze -- may be false flag operations intended to sow discord and distrust. It's impossible to know for certain, of course, but it would seem like a distraction to the rebel strategy, if not wholly self-defeating.
posted by dhartung at 1:27 PM on November 29, 2012


If the US were occupied...

Even if the entire US military magically disappeared it would be like invading Russia in winter, with the added logistical challenge of shipping supplies in by sea.

Red Dawn would have some value if it helped Americans see the world from the perspective of citizens of countries occupied by American troops, but alas.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:33 PM on November 29, 2012


This is a derail, but I'm pretty sure shipping supplies by sea is an advantage, not a challenge.

Back on topic, this sucks and will not be good for anyone. The last thing people caught up in this need is media blackout.
posted by echo target at 1:47 PM on November 29, 2012


This is a derail, but I'm pretty sure shipping supplies by sea is an advantage, not a challenge.

And as we learned during the election, Syria is Iran's route to the sea.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:04 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Syria's internet cutoff easy to spot: Arbor Networks and Renesys pinpoint the moment when the Syrian government cut its internet connection to the outside world that rebels were using to tell their story
posted by homunculus at 2:18 PM on November 29, 2012


Someone on Hacker News noted that the Renesys post is very reminiscent of something that happens in Vernor Vinge's "A Fire Upon The Deep"... if you've read the book, you know exactly what they're talking about.
posted by adrianhon at 2:54 PM on November 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


@ orrnyereg: I surf corrected
posted by Renoroc at 5:02 PM on November 29, 2012


Greater freedom

For a while ... as in all regime changes: until the "Freedom fighters" take up the ways of those they displaced. Centralize power, centralize corrupton.
posted by Twang at 7:31 PM on November 29, 2012


This omninous tweet from one of AJ's correspondents in Syria suggests State media informs viewers that the capital is about to be cleansed of terrorists. Fuck.
posted by humanfont at 8:42 PM on November 29, 2012


I'm worried that this news blackout is a precursor to Assad using chemical weapons. It seems like tht would be the only means he has left to retain power.
posted by happyroach at 11:25 PM on November 29, 2012


Here's hoping Assad and his pretty wife get the full-on Qadaffi/Ceacescu treatment.

That said, when does Putin pull out the Russian special forces? That's when this thing is over.
posted by bardic at 12:03 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Syria blackout enters 2nd day amid fighting near Damascus. "Government and rebels blame each other for cutting of internet and telephones"

#SyriaBlackout is still trending on Twitter.

Allegedly, this is one of the last videos posted to YouTube before all 84 Syrian IP address blocks in the global routing table were cut off.
posted by zarq at 6:00 AM on November 30, 2012


The video, by the way, is graphic and disturbing. NSFW.
posted by zarq at 6:10 AM on November 30, 2012


Why Your Intuition About Cyber Warfare Is Probably Wrong - it isn't like bullet-and-bomb based battle.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:35 AM on November 30, 2012


zarq, any idea what that video is showing? (it is very graphic and horrible, but thank you for posting it)
posted by angrycat at 6:41 AM on November 30, 2012


Video of network routes being withdrawn. From CloudFlare's blog.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:51 PM on November 30, 2012


Angrycat, thanks. The title of the video translated (through Google Translate) is "Aleppo Ansari east (29 11 2012) full section of the massacre that killed dozens"

This was the aftermath of a Syrian airstrike yesterday, against a neighborhood that had initiated some protests earlier in the year against Assad's government.
(ANSAmed) - BEIRUT - At least 15 people, including two women and five children, were killed Thursday by government air strikes over an Aleppo city neighborhood, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported. The air strikes hit the Al Ansari neighborhood, destroying two buildings and wounding at least 20 people, according to SOHR.

Opposition activists posted a video on YouTube showing the bodies of four children, the youngest about one year old, laid out on the floor in a room, while a man recites Islamic prayers.
Some additional photos.

Sorry, I should have posted some background on the video earlier.
posted by zarq at 9:03 PM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Syrians Use Old And New Techniques To Stay Online During Internet Shutdown
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:27 AM on December 1, 2012


For Syria’s Rebel Movement, Skype Is a Useful and Increasingly Dangerous Tool
posted by homunculus at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2012


Updated: Paint it black—How Syria methodically erased itself from 'Net - Now over (for the moment) Syria's blackout was carefully planned, with no leaks.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:47 PM on December 2, 2012


What happens to those chemical weapons, for instance?

Syria Is Doing Shady Things With Its Chemical Weapons
posted by homunculus at 11:00 AM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing Syria is not doing with their chemical weapons is mixing them in preparation for use, a claim that American Defense officials are (anonymously) pushing.

The Wired Syria WMD Claim Is False.
Binary chemical weapons or munitions are chemical weapons wherein the toxic agent is not contained within the weapon in its active state, but in the form of two chemical precursors, physically separated within the weapon. The precursors are designed to be significantly less toxic than the agent they make when mixed, and this allows the weapon to be transported and stored more safely than otherwise. The safety provided by binary chemical weapons is especially important for people who live near ammunition dumps.

The chemical reaction takes place while the weapon is in flight. Firing the munition ruptures the capsules. The munition spins rapidly in flight, which thoroughly mixes the two precursors, so they can react with one another. Finally, a bursting charge aerosolizes and distributes the chemical agent.
posted by scalefree at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2012


NYT: “people sent by the Russian leadership” who had contact with Mr. Assad two weeks ago described a man who has lost all hope of victory or escape.

“His mood is that he will be killed anyway,” Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of a Russian foreign affairs journal and the head of an influential policy group, said in an interview in Moscow, adding that only an “extremely bold” diplomatic proposal could possibly convince Mr. Assad that he could leave power and survive.

“If he will try to go, to leave, to exit, he will be killed by his own people,” Mr. Lukyanov said, speculating that security forces dominated by Mr. Assad’s minority Alawite sect would not let him depart and leave them to face revenge. “If he stays, he will be killed by his opponents. He is in a trap. It is not about Russia or anybody else. It is about his physical survival.”
posted by msalt at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


War Tard: Will Assad Go Full Chemical?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:15 AM on December 6, 2012


Wow, Wartard has an apt name. Bitchin' war blogging bro!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:10 PM on December 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Syrian rebels debut homemade fighting vehicle
posted by homunculus at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Al Qaida-linked group Syria rebels once denied now key to anti-Assad victories
posted by homunculus at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Experts skeptical Syria is preparing to use its chemical arsenal
posted by homunculus at 11:34 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Watch Syrian Rebels Make Rockets Out of Assad’s Cluster Bombs
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


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