Syria is one of the unfortunate countries facing crisis after crisis. Torn apart by civil war on the inside, the country is facing a nationwide internet blackout. The Middle Eastern nation lost all internet connectivity a few days ago. When the service didn’t restart after several hours had passed, several people took to Twitter to voice their frustration at having lost contact with the outside world. In addition, some people also said they had lost phone connectivity as well.
With phone lines and internet down, several major airlines also decided to cancel their flights into the country. Hundreds of flights from across the world fly into Damascus, the capital city of Syria. Due to the lack of communication, the airlines were forced to postpone or cancel their flights altogether.
According to the data available, every single one of the IP address blocks assigned to Syria were down. This meant that no person from inside the country could gain access to the internet. The initial reports were that around 90% of the people were without internet. However, later it became clear that no one had access to the internet.
The information was verified from various sources. Several of the internet service providers in Syria reported that the dropped had continued to fall for a few hours until the time it reached zero. Only the offshore networks and providers were able to provide their services even as all links inside the country fell. The connection to the offshore networks was made possible through trace routes but few people were actually able to connect to the internet via that channel.
Though the trace routes keep providing functionality even if the networks are down, the hours of inactivity eventually took their toll. The outage caused the trace routes to collapse as well causing most offshore networks to cease providing services. It is one of the rare occasions where an entire country has been removed from the web.
The internet had become a tool for rebels to increase their numbers in the Arab uprisings earlier this year. Following that, Egypt and Libya had placed bans on internet usage across the country. Syria had refrained from doing so at that time but with the recent events, it has become clear that the civil war inside the country hasn’t ceased by any means.
To make things worse, there are no confirmed reports yet as to what actually caused the blackout. The government is pointing fingers towards the terrorists, blaming them for causing the outage. However, an internet outage on such a massive scale requires some input from the state so that claim is indeed misplaced. On the other hand, the terrorists and rebel organizations are blaming the government.
It took a whole 48 hours before internet services could be resumed in the country. Still, parts of the country are without internet and phone connectivity. The continuous fighting between rebels and the government could lead to further outages in the future. The situation can be improved considerably if the real cause of the outage is revealed.
[Image via washingtonpost]