SEO: Syrian Authority’s Cut Off of the Internet Raises Fears of a Possible Mass Offensive Act

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Syria has been offline beginning Thursday November 29th , according to two U.S-based companies that monitor the online connectivity. SEO believes that the current act of isolating the whole country from the outside world by cutting off the main sources of communication, denotes a warning sign that the Assad regime is preparing for large-scale aggression against the Syrian people. We urge the international community to positively help in restoring the Internet connection with the Syrians inside the country, and providing alternative methods of communication.

A graphic produced by the U.S. Internet monitoring company Akamai illustrates the observed drop in Web traffic to Syria on Thursday. (Akamai / November 29, 2012)

Syria has been offline beginning Thursday November 29th , according to two U.S-based companies that monitor the online connectivity. The country’s Internet was completely offline and continues to be until November 30th. It is difficult to know for certain how the Internet, cell networks and some landlines were cut off. However, it has been suggested by Sascha Meinrath, director of the Internet in a Suitcase project at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute, that having “a single Internet exchange point in Damascus that’s been shutdown, as much the same way that Mubarak did [in Egypt, at the height of the protests in Tahrir Square]. Authoritarian regime often will architect their Internet activity to have a simple point of surveillance and monitoring uplink” that can easily be unplugged, or even plugged for that matter." http://killerapps.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/11/29/syrian_internet_cutoff_may_be_precursor_to_assad_offensive

The Syrian authority’s decision to disconnect the whole country from the outside has raised lot of concerns of increased possibility of large scale offensive act by Assad regime. Foreign Policy stated in a report published on Nov 29th 2012 that; “Many are concerned that this communications blackout is the precursor to a nation-wide massacre by the Assad regime”. Furthermore, the Local Coordination Committees opposition activist network declared it would “hold the regime responsible for any massacres that would be committed in any Syrian cities after such a move was made,” according to LATimes, http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-syria-internet-blocked-20121129,0,1175061.story

Mr. Bassam Jaafar, SEO board member and the Chairperson of the SEO-IT committee, said; “Given the past experience with the Syrian regime, in which the scenario would be cutting off the connection in specific area, followed by storming the area and more often committing massacres, We believe that the current act of isolating the whole country from the outside by cutting off the main sources of communication, denotes a warning sign that Assad regime is preparing for large scale aggression against Syrian people. We urge the international community to positively help in restoring the connection with Syrian inside the country, by providing alternative ways of communication. We also ask the International humanitarian and aid organization to stay alert in case of urgent needs for intervention and rescue mission.”

The Syrian Expatriates Organization is a leading nonprofit organization of Syrian Americans and Syrian Canadians that reflects the diversity and talent of the Syrian nation. Its mission is to support the establishment of a free and democratic Syria. In addition, the SEO provides humanitarian relief to those in need and works to promote the social, political and economic development of Syria.

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Sawsan Jabri
Syrian Expatriates Organization
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