Bashar al-Assad's efforts to disrupt the pesky rebellion in his country by cutting off access to the internet was probably because the rebels use Skype as a way to keep tabs on his army's movement. Thankfully, the rebels planned ahead.
Internet and phone services were finally restored to (most of) Syria on Saturday after a two day total shut down. The rebels and te government blamed each other for the network going down, but, as The Atlantic Wire's Dashiell Bennett explained on Friday, all signs point to it being the government's doing.
The blackout was a (failed) attempt to disrupt the rebels' communication efforts. The New York Times' Amy Chozick reports the rebels use video-messaging software Skype as a their main form of communication. One of the more interesting ways they use it is as a form of radar, basically. When one post sees government tanks moving in a certain direction, they will relay the message with Skype to another post and tell them they're coming. Thankfully, the government's plan didn't work, because the rebels made preparations to be sure they could survive something like this:
If the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were Twitter Revolutions, then Syria is becoming the Skype Rebellion. To get around a near-nationwide Internet shutdown, rebels have armed themselves with mobile satellite phones and dial-up modems.
In many cases, relatives and supporters living outside Syria bought the equipment and had it smuggled in, mostly through Lebanon and Turkey.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.