According to Renesys and others, Syria has finally taken itself off the internet. Observers suspect that something ugly is about to go down, as Damascus seems desperate enough to go off the deep end in its battle against the opposition. What surprises me the most though is not that the country’s leaders shut down the internet, but that it took so long.
In Egypt and Libya, the denial of internet access was much more of a pawn than it has been in Syria up until now. The Syrian civil war has been either simmering or raging for 20 months, you’d have thought if there was some advantage to be derived from pulling the plug they’d have tried it before now. Nevertheless, all IP access seems to be gone, and one wonders if it will stay that way for the remainder of the conflict. On the other hand, it seems as if this was just a switch being flicked off so maybe it will magically come back up any time now.
The fighting has already had a big effect on the region’s telecommunications infrastructure, causing countries like Jordan to seek alternative routes and delaying projects like the Regional Cable Network, which has been on hold for quite a while now. In fact, Reliance’s recent 100G upgrade between Egypt and Jordan can be seen as part of an attempt by Jordan’s telecommunications sector to increase its capacity to Europe via the southern route. The whole region is overly dependent on submarine cables through heavily trafficked sea lanes because of the neverending political situations that keep terrestrial fiber from doing the job better.