Syria’s Internet Outage & the Future of Information Warfare
This week when sweeping outages in Syria’s communication networks were reported, the Western media immediately accused the Syrian government of being behind the move. However, it should be noted that NATO-backed terrorists operating inside of Syria have been openly given advanced communication equipment (alsohere and here) by Western nations, including the United States, allowing militants to create their own, independent communication networks. This includes radio, satellite, and cell networks, as well as the under-reported existence of “suitcase Internets” (also here and here).
The reason a communications blackout in Syria would not effect NATO’s primary proxy forces is because any node or bottleneck in Syria controlled by the government has already long since been circumvented, either through independent networks, or satellite links.
Image: New York Times depicts what is called a “mesh network,” or an independent internet that uses computers and phones not only as interfaces, but as actual nodes to create the network Imagine in this case, that the “country border” is that of Turkey and Syria. Such networks can be set up virtually anywhere, and the development of methods and software to do so have been the subject of US State Department funding and implementation.
The New York Times in their article, “U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors,” stated in June, 2011 that:
The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.
The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”
Therefore, the Syrian government would gain very little by shutting off the Internet to neutralize networks working entirely independent of infrastructure within state control. Conversely, if NATO has shut the Internet off at nodes leading into Syria, as appears to be the case, NATO and their proxies operating inside of Syria can begin spreading false information, uncontested, via radio, SMS, and even ad hoc WiFi networks.
With NATO’s proxies possessing their own communication networks, their own ability to co-opt and control signals in and near their areas of operation, in particular along the borders where NATO forces themselves are directly involved in disrupting and controlling communications, according to Reuters, a disruption in Syria’s communication networks would only serve to blind, hinder, and disrupt the government and the vast majority of Syria’s civilians.
The control of information, the ability to communicate and coordinate one’s forces, whether they are forces of a military or economic nature, is essential to the survival and prosperity of any nation. The neglect of improving and protecting the means of communication and the control of information within one’s borders is the modern equivalent of letting a castle’s walls crumble, its moat dry up, and to leave its towers without archers.
Syria is not entirely unprepared, however, and its ally Iran is actively building a model that could serve as an example for other nations to follow in securing their information and communication networks. Additionally, the measures used by NATO to subvert sovereign nations in their pursuit of corporate-financier motivated regime change across the planet, can just as easily boomerang back at these very corporations and financial institutions, slaying them with their own sword.
Countermeasures and Defensive Initiatives.
One of the many considerations and motivations behind the very creation of the Internet was its decentralized nature, and its ability to survive catastrophic attacks and still function. A subject of study by the RAND Corporation, the distributed nature of the Internet was seen as being superior to that of conventional, centralized communication architectures. However, the utility of such a network is still determined by who controls the flow of information at nodes and bottlenecks within the system.
Iran has been working on the creation of a nationwide intranet, independent of the Internet, in a bid to break the monopoly the West has been increasingly building over the years. By developing an indigenous network, Iran has the ability to isolate the country from attempts to use the Internet to undermine the nation politically and economically and control the nodes and bottlenecks within its borders.
While the Western media portrays Iran’s move as unreasonable, Western tech-firms are confirmed to be openly collaborating with Western governments in their bid to manipulate, undermine, and overthrow targeted nations, especially Iran. When we consider the disingenuous reasons behind the West’s confrontation with Iran, best articulated in Washington’s own policy think-tank, the Brookings Institution and their “Which Path to Persia?” report, the danger Iran truly faces becomes all the more obvious.
Image: Movement.org’s 2011 sponsor page. Since then, Google and the US State Department have since removed mention of their involvement, but Movement’s own annual reports (2008, 2009, 2010) still retain mention their sponsorship and role over the years.
Internet giant Google, for instance, has been openly working with the US State Department in their corporate-financier motivated interventions around the world, from Egypt to Tunisia, from Libya to Syria. It was revealed that as early as 2008, Google, along with AT&T, Howcast, and Facebook were collaborating with the US State Department via Movements.org to train, equip, and organize protesters ahead of the “Arab Spring” in 2011. The West’s governments and media would feign ignorance and surprise when widespread unrest finally swept the Arab World, when in reality it had been meticulously planned for years.
Image: The US State Department has used Google Ads to spread propaganda. This ad featured (in Farsi) the Twitter account @USAdarFarsi of the “Virtual Embassy of the United States” and reads, “Obama to the Iranian youth: I want you to know that I’m with you.” (click image to enlarge)
The US State Department regularly uses Google Ads to target Farsi speaking readers with messages to undermine the Iranian government – the modern equivalent of US Army Psychological Operations broadcasting propaganda over loudspeakers in a US theater of war, or the US State Department’s Voice of America for decades broadcasting propaganda via radio.
Additionally, Israel has openly admitted to waging “consistent and relentless” cyber warfare, just days after accusations were leveled against it regarding attacks on Iran’s infrastructure, both physical and digital.
Iran’s move, seen in this context, is not only reasonable, but would indicate negligence on the Iranian government’s part had it not begun taking more drastic measures to secure, defend, and isolate networks under constant, verifiable attack.
While Iran works to build technical solutions to adapt and overcome Western efforts to use the Internet as a weapon against them, Syria appears to be fighting with a much more hastily assembled defense, the Syrian Electric Army, to counteract torrents of propaganda emanating from similar organizations put together by the Pentagon, the Israeli IDF, as well as Saudi and Qatari propaganda machines.
The true story behind the Internet blackout in Syria may never be known, but simply countering propaganda online may not be enough to combat the full-spectrum warfare waged by NATO upon Syria, including cyber warfare. And surely such measures will not win the wars of the future. Iran’s approach, involving infrastructure as well as countering Western propaganda with their own professional, international news agency PressTV, provides nation-states with a model for confronting foreign hegemonic ambitions on and within their borders.
US State Department’s “Suitcase Internet” – a Double Edged Sword.
It is difficult to say what sort of people were actually behind the US State Department’s “Suitcase Internet.” There is Sascha Meinrath of the corporate-financier foundation-funded New America Foundation, who despite his affiliations and his role in facilitating American hegemonic ambitions across the Arab World, claims to promote “community wireless networks.” In this case, his deeds and the company he keeps, certainly don’t match his alleged desires. (read Meinrath’s US State Department RFERL interview here)
It is clear by now, with the so-called revolutions in Libya, Egypt, and Syria turning out to be textbook cases of “color revolutions” premeditated and carried out by and exclusively for a myriad of Western organizations, corporations, and institutions for the sole purpose of installing more obedient (not more democratic nor more humane) client regimes, that all those involved, along with their good intentions, were simply exploited.
Most likely, this technology will be outlawed or regulated into extinction across the West, even as it is used to overrun nations across the rest of the world.
Image: A visual depiction of Project Byzantium’s ad-hoc wireless mesh network. More information can be foundon their website here. Such networks have been used by corporate-financier interests, acting through the US State Department and couching their intentions behind “democracy” and “freedom” to execute the so-called “Arab Spring.” By doing so, they have managed to co-opt the talent and intentions of people to accomplish the very opposite of their stated goal. Instead of freeing nations, they’ve only been burdened with worse oppressors with infinitely stronger backers – Wall Street and London.
Software similar to what is described as being used for the “Internet Suitcase,” also known as an ad-hoc wireless mesh network, can be found at Project Byzantium, and was produced by Washington D.C.-basedhackerspace, HacDC. It is described as being made specifically with “activists” in mind. While hackerspaces and local innovation stand the greatest chance at leveling the playing field, reducing both disparity and the exploitation it invites, it appears that in this case, special interests have leveraged this phenomenon to its advantage.
But the concept of mesh networks themselves, along with the work of HacDC are like any tool or weapon – everything depends on whose hands it is in, and how it is used.
Across the Arab World, these mesh networks have allowed proxies of US corporate-financier interests (wittingly and unwittingly) to undermine and overthrow the governments of sovereign nation-states and have lead to the ascent of tyrannies not only many magnitudes worse, but their true nature concealed by a complicit Western media and diplomatic corps. But what if these mesh networks (combined with locally implemented broadband lines to guard against threats like these) were used to set up permanent networks in local communities, with permanent links between communities – and other locally produced and maintained solutions for connecting groups of communities in one country, with those in another?
The potential for upsetting telecommunications monopolies with open source, local networks, independent of both corporate and government control, rules and regulations is precisely how this sword cuts the other way. Local telephone networks, like those created and deployed by the US State Department against targeted and occupied nations could also likewise be deployed against the very corporate-financier interests using these tools today to achieve their geopolitical objectives.
Localizing these networks, and connecting them as local initiatives would not only supplant large, centralized corporate-financier interests, but in the process of supplanting them, would distribute the vast amounts of unwarranted wealth and influence they’ve accumulated, across thousands, perhaps millions of local entrepreneurs – in other words, wealth redistribution through innovation and local entrepreneurship – the eradication of monopolizing special-interests by globally boycotting them, and locally replacing them.
Syria and 4th Generation Warfare.
In Syria’s case, and any sovereign nation-state wishing to stave off the threats wars of the future will bring, a careful study of today’s technology and how it can be implemented as weapons tomorrow should form the driving force behind the formation of defense strategies – not just past successes and today’s current threats. Having both electronic armies and professional international media agencies communicating a nation’s interests to the world, as well as developing and deploying indigenous communications, manufacturing, and defense infrastructure are, and will continue to be, the keys to successfully defending a nation against 4th generation warfare.
Conventional armies and nuclear forces both still serve a valuable role as deterrents, but large contingents of counter-terrorism/counterinsurgency special forces in combination with serious telecommunication and information warfare strategies are essential. The forces of Wall Street-London corporate-financier capital have made it clear they favor 4th generation warfare to build their modern empire. Those that are being targeted must then prepare to fight 4th generation wars.