(Part of The Darkness Visible series)
(Internet Shut off at 10:30am Across Syria)
With the war in Syria grinding its way through the 20th consecutive month the Assad dictatorship has apparently become desperate to stop the uprising from having access to its lifeblood... the outside world. In a move that has drawn harsh criticism Bashar al-Assad has shut down the Internet within Syria. It is not clear if the services will return under foreign pressure. But it is clear to human rights observers as to why Assad has taken this dramatic action in his attempt to smash his opposition.
Media blackouts have been common when it comes to Assad and his massacres. Before the last two massacres there were minor interruptions in communications with the outside world. In the last pogrom Assad interrupted the Internet surrounding Houla in an attempt to black out any videos arising from the area. These attempts to stifle the truth from flowing out of Syria failed. So now we must ask if this new nationwide black out is a smoke screen like it had been back in Houla?
We do know now that Assad is fighting fierce battles in and around Damascus. The war for Aleppo was lost to a stale mate for Assad's forces. Now the war is coming with even more ferocity to the capital city. Car bombs rack the Syrian army every time they try to rush off to a new guerrilla street fight. Planes that had ruled the air around Aleppo are now being brought down by Free Syrian Army surface to air missiles. And yet the fighting seems to still be stuck in grid lock as Russia and China continue to poor money into Assad's reserves.
With Russia printing Assad's money for him the dictator can continue to pay off Iranian mercenaries and Shabiha thugs. The flow of cash means that Assad can continue to pay for his secret prisons and purchase new tools with which to torture his own citizens. These billions of dollars means that Assad can use his own money, thus keeping Russia's hands clean, to purchase more Iranian weapons and Chinese ammunition. It also means that Assad has the money to fund an all out push for wide spread atrocities across the country.
In addition to cutting Internet services Assad also cut cellphone services in the country. This makes it appear that the dictator has admitted that cellphone pictures have been the leading source of "eyewitness testimony" against his war crimes. After all, it was the cellphone videos uploaded to YouTube that first alerted the West to the horrific war crimes committed by the Shabiha in Houla. It was the images of children having been bound and executed by Assad's thugs that first raised concern amongst governments in Europe and the Americas. So once again we must pose the question of whether or not Assad is preparing to launch an all out push against his opposition across the country? And how far will Assad take the country before the lights come back on?
Some outside sources have suggested that the cutting of communications was an overreaction to the car bomb attacks that rocked suburbs of Damascus earlier this morning. Around 50 people were killed in the attacks. Yet it is hard for Alder's Ledge to buy into this excuse since the car bombs were set off in Christian and Druze neighborhoods. A fact that rules out any sympathies an Alawite Islamic leader might have for the dead. In addition the very leader that cut the communications is the same leader that began targeting Christian and Druze Syrians shortly after the uprising began.
(Syrian Neighborhood Rocked By Explosions This Morning)
We do know that Assad had already made plans to make a push somewhere around the international airport where rebels had been attacking for days. And shortly after cutting communications Assad did in fact start such a push against the Free Syrian Army. And in an effort to get planes back in the air and landing at the airport Assad has begun shelling civilian areas nearby. In this assault to reopen the airport Assad has sent the bulk of his forces into the villages of Babila and Hujaira to the south and Harran al-Awamid to the east. These are also areas where the cellular communications were slashed ahead of the military's arrival.
If this is a new push to kill off as many "rebels" as the Assad regime can dig up or gather from the civilian population the West may never know. The fact is the lines of communication with the rebel militias are now cut. Outside of the foreign governments supporting the uprising, the rest of us will have to wait till information leaks out over the border into Turkey or Lebanon. What little news reporters are on the ground will also find it hard to get their reports out of the country.
When the next massacre occurs we will have to wait to hear about it. When the next batch of children are sent off to an alleyway to be gunned down we will never be able to bear witness. When the next wave of Shabiha enter Syrian homes in the middle of the night the world will not hear their screams. This is precisely what Assad wants. The genocidal regime he has led now has all it has ever needed. A vacuum in which to operate.
It is time for the world to wake up and take action. The darkness that has been covering Syria for nearly two years has now descended into pitch black. The monster in power now has the ability to operate without impediment. The people of Syria are now at risk of suffering far worse than they already have.
Voice Of America
(note that not all documents used are listed)