It was exactly a month ago when commenting on the Mobile Warfare in Syria, I predicted a possible peak in the protests for the half of April. Unfortunately I was a (quite easy actually) good prophet even if my prediction was not completely correct since we are now in the second half of the month. The wave is moving and in the last days the situation has plunged: protests are rising and from the “Black Friday”, the day in which the protests reached the peak, sources report nearly 300 victims in the wave of violence which shook the Country.
As usual I am watching with interest the roles that mobile technologies and social networks are playing and I am noticing the same patterns which characterized the revolutions of this beginning of 2011: social networks used for witnessing the events, common persons becoming improvised reporters armed only with their mobile devices (weapons), and governments desperately trying to stop the streams of bits from the hot zones with coarse attempts.
Consequently it is not surprising that many tweets are just reporting (together with the dramatic news of new military repressions) the cut-off of Internet, Mobile Phones and landlines in Nawa (Governorate of Daraa).
Nevertheless, Syrian Citizens keep on witnessing, what is happening and their tweets and updates are shacking the web (and the world): they show the importance and power of Mobile Warfare and the weapons citizens are using are well summarized by this tweet which encloses the essence of the mobile warfare:
The shots of the gun are viewable, for instance on the Facebook Syrian Revolution 2011 page, which is continuously fed with video “shot” from mobile devices. Moreover, in this moment, mobile communications in Daraa are possible only thanks to Jordanian Mobile Networks:
Will it happen an hijacking of the mobile network with the collaboration of a close country as occurred in Libya with the “Free Libyana”? Difficult to say, but for sure some other tweets do not exclude this possibility:
Few seconds after publishing the post I found an interesting information, emphasizing the power of mobile warfare, according to which reports by the “Israeli”, announced yesterday that the United States intends to allocate funding for the “revolutions” through the Internet in the “Arab countries” to help the activists bring about change for their countries.
The information have been mentioned by tge “Jerusalem Post” (but I did not fond any conform so far). According to the latter, the administration of President Barack Obama plans to spend more than $ 25 million to facilitate the use of the Internet through activists who’s governments hinder the use of Internet services.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Democracy, Human Rights and Labor “Michael Posner” announced to the newspaper “the current administration believes that democratic change must be emanated from within. “
Wars and battlefield are really changing and the parallelism between real weapons and cyber weapons is getting more and more pertinent strengthening the concept of War 2.0: in the “old” world, foreign enemy countries financed internal rebels providing them weapons; in the new world they learn them how to use internet.
Thanks to Twitter I came across this interesting article from NYT, which further enhances the similarities between cyber-activism and real activism. Exiles drive the revolution allowing the sharing of images and information all over the World. Meanwhile they created a network to smuggle “weapons” inside Syria. Which kind of weapons? Of course satellite phones, along with hundreds of cameras and laptops.
Several say they relied on Syrian businessmen — abroad or in Syria — to finance one of their most impressive feats. After witnessing the Egyptian government’s success in shutting down the Internet and mobile phone networks in January, they made a concerted attempt to circumvent a similar move by delivering satellite phones and modems across Syria. Ammar Abdulhamid, an activist in Maryland, estimated that they delivered 100 satellite phones, along with hundreds of cameras and laptops.
Thanks to this “smuggling” we may listen to the tweets of freedom. The mobile warfare seems unstoppable…
Sources report that last week 150 people were killed during the protests against president Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Also in this circumstance, as already happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the world is witnessing to the protests thanks to the hundreds of citizen reporters equipped with their mobile devices and Internet connections.
The mobile warfare is acting in these countries too: as a matter of fact the tweets allow to follow the protests in real time, by mean of continuously up-to-date short messages, while Facebook allows the spread of the movements throughout the Nation (and not only): the blue social networks calls to join the revolution, by mean of continuously increasing groups, the largest of which The Syrian Revolution 2011, currently counts more than 90.000 supporters. In the same time, more and more videos shot by mobile devices are flooding YouTube.
In a certain sense it looks like the Middle East is playing a global Risk board game, whose troops are represented by mobile devices, whose effects on the social landscape effects on the social landscape have no geographical boundaries, especially for those governments that restrict the civil liberties of their citizens. This global Risk match is far from the end, since the invasion of the Mobile Warfare (and its effects for the governments) is also happening in Yemen and Bahrain, which are suffering similar outbreaks of protests. It is interesting to notice that all the peaks of the revolutions were spaced, in a time scale, by approximately one month:
- Tunisia, Jan 14th 2011: president Ben Ali ousted;
- Egypt, Feb 11th 2011: president Mubarak stepped down;
- Libya, March 19th 2011: after two weeks of fight Operation Odissey Dawn begins
If we perform a kind of extrapolation, does this mean that peaks of the protest in Syria and Jordan will reach the maximum at the half of April?
Speculation aside, as far as Syria is concerned, what is happening is following the same pattern advised in Maghreb area with the only difference that, so far, Syria did not decide to disrupt the internet connection in order to stop the stream of information towards foreign countries.
From a political and social perspective, all the involved countries have too many aspects in common: long-living governments (in Syria the al-Assad Dynasty governed continuously for 40 years, which become 42 in case of the monarchy of Bahrain), younger generations with no dream and trust on future, eager for more freedom. Most of all, younger generations which have access to internet connections and social networks (I was in Syria for work three years ago and can confirm that, even then, the penetration of internet, mobile technologies and social network was well established), through which they may observe, study (and compare), the (apparently) better conditions of their occidental peers.
I think the process is irreversible, and indeed is likely to increase (Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq will probably be suffering other outbreaks in the middle term). Meanwhile will be interesting to notice if the involved governments will apply preventive measures, on large scale, for instance the disruption of the Internet connections, or targeted specifically on mobile devices or preventing to reach the social networks for sharing tweets, groups or videos…
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