Syria cut off over 90% of its internet access today. News reports state that this coincides with increasingly serious clashes between government and rebel forces. Whether or not the clashes are the cause of the blackout remains to be seen.
If the Syrian government is behind this then the question that comes to my mind is why? The Syrian government has not to this point been averse to bad publicity. The typical response is to blame rebel forces for whatever atrocities come to light.
I can’t see how the rebels would gain any advantage from doing something like this. They gain their leverage by showing the world how brutal the regime actually is. I also have no doubt that the Internet is both a tactical and strategic resource for rebel and government forces.
Oliver Holmes of Reuters wrote, “A Syrian security source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the army had started a “cleansing operation” in the capital to confront rebel advances.” If this is true then killing the Internet provides the Syrian government some protection from world opinion and some measure of advantage over rebel forces.