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Bandwidth Being Throttled In Bahrain?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oh-just-a-coincidence dept.

Censorship 69

mahiskali writes "In light of recent uprising and protests in Bahrain, reports are coming in showing slower than usual internet access across the country. Broadband providers are claiming this is due to high-usage and heavy load, but Twitter is abuzz claiming a government-imposed lockdown. Accounts on the popular media-sharing site Bambuser have reportedly been blocked as well."

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So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240754)

How about that internet kill switch?

Re:So... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241412)

They're using the demonstrator kill switch.

First post! (-1, Offtopic)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240762)

No more competition from the Middle East!

Re:First post! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241196)

you fucking fail miserably at all things life-releated.

Re:First post! (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242684)

so he is really good at failing miserably? so not all things then.

Cat's out of the bag (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240764)

Now that Egypt did it first (supposedly) other governments realize they can do it too. Protests are already pissed off and protesting so what does adding net blockage matter? I can only hope some countries adopt legislative measures against such civil rights violations. To anyone who wants to say net access isn't a right, go bugger off back to the hole you came from. And I don't mean people deserve free net access, just that their access can not be impeded.

Re:Cat's out of the bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241054)

Forgetting Tunisia and Iran from months ago?

Re:Cat's out of the bag (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241912)

And I don't mean people deserve free net access, just that their access can not be impeded.

Hmm...I hope that happens, but I fear the wording get the same shellacking that the second amendment got. Maybe if they made it infinitely clear; perhaps we should write all future amendments in three sentences that say the same thing in different ways, so it can't be twisted very easily.

Internet for elite?? (4, Insightful)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240776)

To those who say that the Internet is only used by a very small percent of people and that individuals "on the ground" don't care about it and that it doesn't bring real change, tell me why censoring the Internet is the FIRST step taken by authoritarian governments when protests arise?

Re:Internet for elite?? (3, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241036)

Absolutely agree. Only a very small percent of people speak out on Facebook/Twitter/etc., but many times that number read what that small percent are saying. The internet is the ultimate soapbox. Anyone who thinks that the proverbial soapbox is unimportant because only a few people stand up on it is missing the point entirely.

Re:Internet for geeks?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35253202)

Internet for smart people with strong opinions and weak socak skills. How many slashdotters make the time to get out in the public arena and express themselves without the comfort of their clever pseudonyms? It takes a lot of bravery to lead the mob, but with the internet you can hide in the mob and still lead it. Mobs need leaders if they are going to accomplish anything worthwhile, but when they show their face, they tend to die or get arrested.

Re:Internet for elite?? (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241126)

Because the bastards in charge spend a lot of their time on the internet as well? And, as members of the ruling class, their horizons are so small as to not be aware of anything outside their own little group?

There's just this idiotic, pervasive belief that "applying twitter" to any problem fixes it. Changing your web page's background to green in solidarity with the people actually accomplishes something meaningful. Go ahead and laugh, there are serious, highly educated people who have faith in this technique and are puzzled when it doesn't work.

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

wile_e8 (958263) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241254)

tell me why censoring the Internet is the FIRST step taken by authoritarian governments when protests arise?

To try and prevent images and videos unsympathetic to the authoritarian government from spreading around the world (unsuccesfully in this case [crowdvoice.org] )

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

gorzek (647352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242712)

Yup. It's all about stopping the flow of information. Pretty difficult to organize and coordinate if you can't communicate in real-time.

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35243338)

Yup. It's all about stopping the flow of information. Pretty difficult to organize and coordinate if you can't communicate in real-time.

The French,and Russians managed OK in their revolutions without fucking twitter or facebook.

Re:Internet for elite?? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241354)

Actually, the government first deployed police and military forces against the protesters.

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241538)

Why? because it is the EASIEST thing to do. it can be done with a phonecall or two. And its one of the most effective steps. Cutting off easy communications.

Most other steps involved in putting down protests require someone to get off their ass.

My steps would be cutting the net, cell service, phone service. All real easy to do. None require me to get off my ass or go get some general to mobilize troops and start shooting people.

captcha:brutally man. that thing is right so often.

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242466)

First of all, it is not the "FIRST" step. It is the first step that gets published in /., period.

And also, if you have got yourself a little informed, you'll find that they are protesting for things happening since a long time.

My point here is that internet is not creating the environment. What internet brings is information that people finally are doing something about that, and that information encorages the people who already are pissed to join. In short, people do not protest thanks to internet but protests grows thanks to it.

Re:Internet for elite?? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35244374)

"tell me why censoring the Internet is the FIRST step taken by authoritarian governments when protests arise?"

That is because when protests start the government is already censoring TV, radio and every big printed media available. And, of course, that isn't in disagreement with what you said, I just wanted to answer the question...

Peaceful now... (1)

_0rm_ (1638559) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240778)

It's only a matter of time before police get fed up and violence starts. Either that or the protestors themselves get violent.

Re:Peaceful now... (2)

MimeticLie (1866406) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241042)

Peaceful? People have already died. The New York Times was running an article about how the military has taken to the streets to keep order.

Re:Peaceful now... (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241316)

As above, liveleak had a fairly graphic video showing some guy that took a head shot for the cause (whatever that is)

I'm guessing the F1 will be canceled too.

WTF (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240788)

Did every country just get this hardware installed or did everyone just start protesting or did I just find out about world events?

Seems like every other story is a new country blacking out the entire public sector.

Re:WTF (3)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240926)

Everyone just started protesting. One guy in Tunisia immolated himself in reaction to overly harsh police treatment, triggered protests there. With their success, Egyptians thought to give it a short, succeeded very visibly. And so the dominoes continue to fall.

UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A SPECIAL REPORT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241070)

February 17, 2011

UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A SPECIAL REPORT

Footage of self-immolations in Algeria, clashes between police and protesters in Yemen and Bahrain, government reshufflings in Jordan and fledgling street demonstrations in Iran could lead to the impression of a domino effect under way in the Middle East in which aging autocrats are on the verge of being uprooted by Tunisia-inspired revolutionary fervor. A careful review of unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, however, exposes a very different picture.

Many of the protests sprouting up in these countries have a common thread, and that alone is cause for concern for many of the region's regimes. High youth unemployment, a lack of political representation, repressive police states, a lack of housing and rising commodity prices are among the more common complaints voiced by protesters across the region. Social media has been used both as an organizing tool for protesters and a surveillance enabler by regimes. More generally, the region is witnessing a broad, public reaction to the layers of corruption that have become entrenched around these regimes over the past several decades.

Regime responses to those complaints also have been relatively consistent, including subsidy handouts; changes to the government, in many cases cosmetic; promises of job growth, electoral reform, and a repeal of emergency rule; and in the case of Egypt, Yemen and Algeria, public dismissal of illegitimate succession plans. Anti-regime protesters in many of these countries have faced off with mostly for-hire pro-regime supporters tasked with breaking up the demonstrations, the camel cavalry in Egypt being the most vivid example of this tactic.

While the circumstances at first glance appear dire for most of the
regimes, each of these states also has unique circumstances. While Tunisia
can be considered a largely organic, successful uprising, for most of
these states, the regimes retain the tools to suppress dissent, divide the
opposition and maintain power. In others, those engaging in the civil
unrest are pawns in behind-the-scenes power struggles. In all, the assumed
impenetrability of the internal security apparatus and the loyalties and
intentions of the army remain decisive factors in determining the
direction of the unrest.

Egypt: The Military's 'Revolution'

In the past several days Egypt has not witnessed a popular revolution but
a carefully managed succession by the military. The demonstrations,
numbering around 200,000 to 300,000 at their peak, were genuinely inspired
by the regime turnover in Tunisia, pent-up socio-economic frustrations
(youth unemployment in Egypt stands out around 25 percent) and extreme
disillusionment with former President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

It must be recognized that the succession crisis in Egypt was playing out
between the country's military elite and Mubarak well before protests
began in Egypt on Jan. 25. The demonstrators, encouraged by both internal
and external pro-democracy groups, were in fact a critical tool the
military used to maneuver Mubarak out while preserving the regime. So far,
the Egyptian military has maintained the appearance of being receptive to
opposition demands. Over time, however, the gap between opposition and
military elite interests will grow, as the latter works to maintain its
clout in the political affairs of the state while also containing a
perceived Islamist threat.

Tunisia: Not Over Yet

Though Tunisia had some domestic pro-democracy groups before unrest began
in December 2010, Tunisia saw one of the region's more organic uprisings.
Years of frustration with corruption and the political and business
monopoly of former President President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's regime,
high youth unemployment (estimated at around 30 percent in the 15-29 age
group), and rising commodity prices fueled the unrest. The self-immolation
of an educated young man who was trying to sell fruits and vegetables
started the unrest, helping break down the fear that Tunisia's internal
security apparatus had maintained for decades.

The ouster of Ben Ali and his family and a reshuffling of the government
for now have calmed most of the unrest. A sense of normalcy is gradually
returning as Tunisians look ahead to as-yet unscheduled elections due
sometime in 2011. Since Tunisia won its independence from France in 1956,
the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party -- which served as Ben
Ali's main political vehicle -- has dominated the country. This leaves
opposition groups with little to no experience in managing political, much
less business affairs. RCD politicians have been quick to seek to
disassociate themselves from the Ben Ali name in hopes of retaining their
wealth and political clout while the opposition remains unorganized and
divided. Unlike Egypt, the Islamist opposition, led by the formerly exiled
leadership of the Ennahda party, remains largely marginal. In all
likelihood, Tunisia will end up with another government dominated by many
of the former Ben Ali elites, albeit with a democratic face.

This creates the potential for another wave of unrest, raising the
question of the Tunisian army's motives. The military dropped its support
for Ben Ali less than a month after the uprising began, and only three
days after Ben Ali called for the army to maintain order in the streets of
the capital. The Tunisian army is likely looking to the Egypt model, in
which the military is now standing at the helm and benefiting from a
number of political and economic perks as a result. Ultimately, the
situation in Tunisia remains in flux, and an army intervention down the
line should not be ruled out.

Algeria: The Power Struggle Behind the Protests

Many of the same socioeconomic factors afflicting its North African
neighbors like Tunisia and Egypt have fueled Algeria's protests. (Youth
unemployment in Algeria is around 20 percent, and high food prices were
causing riots even before the regional unrest began.) Thus far, the major
protests have averaged in the hundreds as the internal security apparatus
has resorted to increasingly forceful measures to restrict demonstrations
in Algiers and to the east in the Kabylie region's Bejaia province.

Thousands of riot police have been deployed ahead of mass demonstrations
planned for Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. The protests are primarily youth-driven,
and are being organized through channels like Facebook in defiance of the
country's ban on demonstrations in the capital. The Rally for Culture and
Democracy party led by Said Sadi, the National Coordination for Change and
Democracy and Algeria's League for Human Rights have coordinated the
protests. Critically, a number of the country's most powerful trade unions
are taking part. The banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) has also
reportedly called on Algerians to take part in the march to demand "regime
change," prompting Algerian authorities on Feb. 11 to arrest hardliner FIS
second-in-command Ali Belhadj.

While the civil unrest will continue to capture the cameras' attention,
the real struggle in Algeria is not playing out in the streets. A power
struggle has long been under way between the country's increasingly
embattled president, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, and the head of the Military
Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DRS), Gen. Mohamed "Toufik"
Mediene. After ending a bloody civil war with radical Islamists led by the
FIS, Bouteflika came to power in 1999 as a civilian leader. He relied on a
combination of accommodation and force to stabilize the country. Widely
regarded as the chief power broker in Algerian politics, Mediene has held
his post since 1990 and consequently lays claim to a wide network of
political, security business and trade union connections. Bouteflika
relied heavily on Mediene to both contain the Islamist threat and also to
reduce the clout of the army in Algerian politics. The president then
started running into serious trouble when he attempted to expand his own
influence at the expense of Mediene and his allies.

The power struggle between the two has intensified in recent years, with
state-owned energy firm Sonatrach even getting caught in the fray.
Bouteflika, age 73, won a third term in 2009 after abolishing Algeria's
two-term limit. His current term is set to expire in 2014. Numerous hints
have been dropped that the aging president either would hand power to his
younger brother or to the prime minister, plans that Mediene strongly
opposes.

Not by coincidence, one of the main organizers of the demonstrations,
Saeed Saidi (a Berber) is known to be on excellent terms with Mediene,
also a Berber. The call for Berber rights -- Berbers make up roughly
one-third of the Algerian population -- has been one of the leading
drivers of the demonstrations thus far. A large portion of Algeria's
majority Arab population, however, has yet to show an interest in taking
to the streets in protest against the regime. The country's powerful trade
unions, which have strong political connections and a proven ability to
twist Bouteflika's arm through crippling strikes demanding more limits on
foreign investment and better wages, are a critical element to the
demonstrations.

Overall, while the roots of Algeria's civil unrest are like those in
Tunisia and Egypt, the youth demonstrators are not the decisive factor in
determining the course of events in the country. The timing appears ripe
for Mediene to lay pressure on Bouteflika to meet his demands on the
coming succession. How far Mediene goes in undercutting (and perhaps
attempting to remove Bouteflika) remains to be seen.

The Algerian military must also be watched closely in the coming weeks.
Bouteflika has a number of close allies in the military elite to counter
Mediene, but there are also a number of disaffected soldiers in lower
ranks who have seen the military's profile decline under Bouteflika's
rule. Bouteflika has attempted to pacify the opposition with subsidies
(aided by the current high price of oil) a vow to lift emergency rule by
the end of February and promises of (limited) political reforms. But the
president is likely to rely more heavily on force against protesters and
quiet concessions to trade unions while trying to cope with the bigger
threat posed by the country's intelligence chief.

Morocco: Regime Confident Amid the Strife

Morocco has been quiet during the recent wave of unrest. Though it has yet
to experience any mass demonstrations, small protests have occurred and at
least four cases of self-immolations have been reported since the first
incident in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010. Now, however, a recently-created
Facebook group known as "Moroccans for Change" has called for a nationwide
protest Feb. 20, something the government of King Mohammed VI has
responded to by meeting with opposition parties and promising to speed up
the pace of economic, social and political reforms.

Just as in Egypt, there are many strands in the Moroccan opposition, from
secular pro-democracy groups to Islamists. Those planning the Feb. 20
protests are not seen as having much in common with the Islamist Justice
and Development Party or the largest opposition force and main Islamist
group in the country, the banned Justice and Charity party -- which is
believed to have a membership of roughly 200,000. Where Morocco differs
from Egypt, however, is in the fact that the opposition is not calling for
regime change, but rather a greater say in the political system, i.e.,
from within the constitutional monarchy.

In one of its main demands, the opposition has called for a new
constitution that would strip power from the monarchy and from the network
of state and business elites known as the Makhzen. Demands for higher
wages and state-subsidized housing are also opposition priorities, along
with calls for less police brutality, a common source of animosity toward
governments in the Arab world.

  In a sign of the Moroccan government's confidence in managing the
situation, the government has given its formal approval to the Feb. 20
protest march. Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has meanwhile
expressed fears that Algeria may seek to take advantage of the current
state of upheaval in the Arab world to stir up unrest in Western Sahara, a
buffer territory bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania held by rebel
group opposed to Moroccan control of the region, known as the Polisario
Front. The Polisario Front has long been supported by Algeria,
Morocco's neighbor and rival. Raising the threat of Algerian
meddling could also be a way for Morocco to justify a strong security
presence in containing potential unrest.

In sum, the planned demonstrations in Morocco are illustrations of
opportunism as opposed to a serious potential popular uprising -- much
less regime change.

Jordan: The Accommodationist Approach

The Jordanian opposition, led by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, was
quick to seize on the Tunisian and Egyptian unrest and organize peaceful
sit-in demonstrations in their ongoing push for electoral reform and
fresh parliamentary elections. The Hashemite monarchy, however, has had much more experience in
accommodating its Islamist opposition. The political arm of the Muslim
Brotherhood, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), is allowed political
representation, albeit not at a level they deem sufficient. King Abdullah
II acted quickly to pre-empt major civil unrest in the country by handing
out millions of dollars in subsidies and by forming a new government.

While making concessions, Abdullah has worked to avoid giving in too much
to Islamist demands, making clear that there are limits to what he will
do. Former general and now Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit heads the new
government. His Cabinet, sworn in Feb. 9, includes some figures with an
Islamist background. Even though the IAF announced that it would not
participate in the new government and called for fresh elections, it also
said it would wait before judging the new government's sincerity about
reform plans, and would continue to hold peaceful demonstrations. In other
words, the IAF understands its limits and is not attempting a regime
overthrow, meaning the situation is very much contained. Meanwhile,
opportunistic tribal leaders, who traditionally support the Jordanian
regime, recently decided to voice complaints against regime corruption to
extract concessions while the situation was still tense. The Jordanian
government quickly dealt with the situation through quiet concessions to
the main tribal leaders.

Bahrain: A Sunni-Shiite Struggle with Geopolitical Implications

Long-running sectarian strife between Bahrain's Shiite majority and ruling
Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy is the driving force behind civil unrest in
Bahrain. Bahrain was the first among Persian Gulf countries to witness
significant demonstrations, and protesters clashed with riot police early
on. After two days of demonstrations led by Shiite opposition groups, a
heavy crackdown was launched on Pearl Square in the heart of Manama late
Feb. 16 on mostly Shiite protesters who were camping overnight.

Most of the protesters' demands initially centered on political reform,
the demands of some (though not all) gradually escalated to the removal of
the prime minister and then the king. Pearl Square, the focal point of the
protests, has been cleared and is being held by Bahraini security forces.
(Roughly 90 percent of Bahrain's security apparatus is Sunni.) Even after
this show of force, the potential for further sectarian strife between
Shiite protesters and security forces remains, especially as funeral
processions are likely to add to the current unrest.

The ruling Sunni family may be a minority in the Shiite-majority country,
but some 54 percent of the population is made up of foreign guest workers,
who are notably not taking part in the demonstrations. Energized by the
crackdown, seven opposition groups, including both Shia and Sunnis,
reportedly are forming a committee to unify their position with the aim of
getting at least 50,000 people to the streets Feb. 19. Young, enraged men
may feel the compulsion to face off against security forces again, but
they are unlikely to be able to mobilize enough people to overwhelm the
security apparatus.

The al-Khalifa family is no stranger to communal strife, and appears
capable of putting down the unrest, but the events of the past few days
will make the task of managing the tiny country's demographic imbalance
that much more difficult for the regime.

Sectarian tensions in Bahrain bear close watching, as the country is a
significant proxy battleground in the broader geopolitical struggle
between Saudi Arabia and the United States on one side and Iran on the
other. Bahrain is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, while for its part, Saudi
Arabia fears that a regime turnover to the Shia in Bahrain would encourage
the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia's eastern province to follow suit.
Iranian media and STRATFOR Iranian diplomatic sources appear to be making
a concerted effort to spread stories of Saudi special operations forces
deploying to Bahrain to help crack down on Shiite protesters. Such stories
could enable Iran to justify assistance to the Bahraini Shia, particularly
to Al Wefaq, Bahrain's main Shiite opposition group, turning the country
into a more overt proxy battleground between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran
may be attempting to amplify the Sunni-Shiite conflict at a time when the
United States is already particularly stressed in the region to boost its
negotiating position, but Iran is also facing problems of its own at
home.

Iran: Standard Operating Procedure

Following the 2009 post-election uprising and subsequent crackdown,
Iranian opposition groups are using the unrest in the Arab world to fuel
an attempted comeback against the clerical regime. Protests Feb. 14
numbered in the thousands and remained concentrated in Tehran (smaller
protests also were reportedly in Esfahan and Shiraz), with embattled
opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi encouraging
protesters to mobilize. The regime used the deaths of two student
protesters to call for the hanging of Mousavi and Karroubi for inciting
the unrest that led to the protesters' deaths. More unrest is expected
during the protesters' funeral processions and on Feb. 18 following Friday
prayers, but Iran's experienced security apparatus and Basij militiamen
have resorted to their usual, effective tactics of breaking up the
demonstrations and intimidating the opposition.

Poor socio-economic conditions, high youth unemployment (around 26
percent) and disillusionment with the regime are all notable factors in
the development of Iran's opposition movement, but as STRATFOR stressed in
2009, the primarily youth-driven, middle- and upper-class opposition in
Tehran is not representative of the wider population, a significant
portion of which is supportive of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The more apathetic observers have yet to demonstrate a willingness to put
their lives and their families' lives at risk by opposing the government.
Rather than posing an existential threat to the Ahmadinejad government,
the Iranian opposition largely remains an irritant to the regime.

Libya: Crowd Control, Gadhafi-Style

Demonstrators in Libya planned a "Day of Rage" on Feb. 17 as a rare show
of protest against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Media
coverage in Libya is severely limited, but reports and eyewitness videos
trickled out showing deadly clashes between protesters and security forces
in the cities of Benghazi and Al Bayda. In Tripoli, meanwhile, footage of
Gadhafi blowing kisses and towering above a crowd of his supporters
dominated Libyan state television. Violent clashes between protesters and
police earlier broke out late Feb. 15 in Benghazi, where demonstrators
demanded the release of human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Turbil.

Libya's youth unemployment is the highest in North Africa, averaging
somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. This is compounded by the regime's
gross mismanagement of efforts to develop the non-oil sector economy.
Calls for jobs, basic access to services, housing and media and political
freedoms have been made by fledgling opposition groups with leaders based
abroad, groups that have nudged demonstrators on via social media.

Public demonstrations in a police state like Libya are notable, but the
Gadhafi regime is also extremely adept at putting down dissent in the
sparsely populated desert country. While the regime will rely on its iron
fist to contain the unrest, it has also made limited concessions in
releasing Turbil while promising further prison releases. Pro-government
demonstrators have been unleashed, subsidies are likely to be doled out,
and security forces are cracking down hard while Gadhafi is doing an
effective job in making a mockery of the unrest by taking part in his own
pro-government demonstrations. Most important, the Gadhafi regime has had
success in pardoning and re-integrating members of the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group to guard against the Islamist militant threat and has
maintained a close relationship between the army and the country's main
tribes.

The civil unrest in Libya is unlikely to pose a meaningful threat to the
regime, but it could impact the country's ongoing power-struggle between
Gadhafi's two sons. The younger and reform-minded son, Seif al Islam
(along with his ally, National Oil Corporation chairman Shukri Ghanem),
has been put on the defensive of late by his brother, Motasem, who is
Libya's national security adviser and has the support of many within the
political and military old guard. Seif al-Islam has sought to distinguish
himself from old guard politics and to build his credibility in the
country, even going so far as having his charity organization publish a
report on Libyan human rights abuses that harshly criticized the regime.
The old guard has since pushed back on Seif al-Islam, but the current
unrest could strengthen his case that limited reforms to the system are
required for the long-term viability of the Gadhafi regime.

Yemen: No Relief for Sanaa

Even before the current spate of opposition unrest, Yemen already faced
immense challenges in creating jobs (youth unemployment is roughly 35
percent and unemployment overall is estimated around 16 percent),
developing the economy without the petrodollar cushion its neighbors
enjoy, containing a secessionist movement in the south and the al-Houthi
rebellion in the north, and fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a
threat exacerbated by the fact that jihadist sympathizers have penetrated
Yemen's intelligence and security apparatus.

After taking a gamble in recent months in making limited political
concessions to the main opposition coalition Joint Meetings Party (JMP)
led by the Islamist party Islah, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh now
faces daily protests in the capital city of Sanaa and Aden. Over the past
month, most of the demonstrations have numbered in the hundreds and on a
couple occasions in the low thousands. The protests started out
peacefully, but have turned more violent in recent days as protesters and
security forces have clashed. (One young protester was reportedly shot
dead Feb. 16.)

In attempt to take the steam out of the political opposition, Saleh has
announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013, and that he would
do away with pending amendments that would have abolished presidential
term limits. Those moves helped stymie complaints that Saleh would try to
hand the presidency to his eldest son, Ahmed Saleh, who currently commands
the Republican Guard, the elite military force that serves as the
president's first line of defense. Saleh has also called on the main
opposition parties to form a unity government and has been offering a
number of political concessions behind the scenes. Those moves, while
making Saleh appear weak and politically vulnerable, appeared to be
working Feb. 13, when the JMP announced it would drop out of the
demonstrations and resume dialogue with the government. The JMP has since
reversed its decision, feeling that there is no better time to pressure
Saleh into making concessions than now.

The multitude of threats the Saleh regime faces put Yemen at higher risk
than most of the other countries experiencing unrest. Saleh's ability to
survive depends on two key factors: the tribes and the army. Saleh has
long been effective at co-opting the country's main tribes and in keeping
the military elite loyal. The army still stands behind the president, but
STRATFOR sources in Yemen have indicated that the regime is growing
increasingly nervous about tribal loyalties.

The demonstrators on the streets meanwhile remain relatively limited in
number. That dynamic could change if the situation further deteriorates
and people start recalculating their estimates of Saleh's ability to
survive. Should Saleh become too big of a liability, a contingency plan is
in place for Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, who has been the
main interlocutor between the regime and the opposition, to take over.
Saleh for now has some staying power, but his grip is showing increasingly
serious signs of slipping.

Syria: Maintaining the Iron Fist

Soon after the unrest in Egypt broke out, Syrian opposition youth
activists (most of whom are based outside the country) attempted to
organize their own "Day of Rage" via social media to challenge the al
Assad regime. Like Bahrain, Syria's ruling elite faces a demographic
dilemma: It is an Alawite regime in a Sunni-majority country. Fortunately
for the regime, the demonstrations scheduled for Feb. 4-5 in the cities of
Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Al-Qamishli quickly fell flat. The
demonstrations were sorely lacking in numbers and interest. Even the
Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, likely reflecting on the violent consequences
of the 1982 Hama insurrection, stuck to issuing statements with their
demands instead of risking participation in the demonstrations. Syrian
plainclothes police promptly harassed the dozen or so who did show up.

Nonetheless, the Syrian regime appears to be taking the threat of regional
unrest seriously, and has moved quickly to build up its security presence
and dole out subsidies to keep a check on further protest attempts. In a
rare interview, Syrian President Bashar al Assad indicated to The Wall
Street Journal that he also would implement political and media reforms
with an aim to hold municipal elections this year. While social media
tools like Facebook have been widely celebrated as the catalyst for
revolution, the Syrian case illustrates how such tools act as enablers of
the regime. Confident in its ability to put down protests, the Syrian
government lifted a five-year ban on Facebook and YouTube in February,
thereby facilitating its ability to track any opposition plans in the
works.

Though Syria got a scare early on in the wave of Mideast unrest, it
appears to have all the tools in place to maintain the regime's grip on
power.

Saudi Arabia: House of Saud is Safe, for Now

Virtually any spark of unrest in the Middle East will turn heads toward
Saudi Arabia, where the global price of oil hangs precariously on the
stability of the House of Saud. Though feeble opposition groups have
called for greater political and press freedoms, no demonstrations have
erupted in the oil kingdom. Saudi petrodollars continue to go a long way
in keeping the population pacified, and the regime under Saudi King
Abdullah in particular has spent recent years engaging in various social
reforms that, while limited, are highly notable for Saudi Arabia's
religiously conservative society.

Critically, the House of Saud has had success since 9/11, and particularly
since 2004, in co-opting the religious establishment, which has enabled
the regime to contain dissent while also keeping tabs on AQAP activity
bubbling up from Yemen. The main cause for concern in Saudi Arabia is
centered on the succession issue, as the kingdom's aging leadership will
eventually give way to a younger and more fractious group of royals. Saudi
Arabia will offer assistance where it can to contain unrest in key
neighbors like Bahrain and Yemen, but for now is largely immune from the
issues afflicting much of the region.

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

Re:UNREST IN THE MIDDLE EAST: A SPECIAL REPORT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35242460)

TL:DNR

Bahrain, catalyst for what? (0)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241116)

Color me unimpressed. Does that make me not senitive to Bahrain's citizens?

Show me Saudi Arabia's "royalty" giving way to its citizens, and I'll be damned inpressed. And we'd be sure to see other nations protest.

Bahrain? It's a playground, nothing more.

Re:Bahrain, catalyst for what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35242478)

Bahrain? It's a playground, nothing more.

Tell that to the people of Bahrain.

Re:Bahrain, catalyst for what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35242602)

The more this happens, the harder it is to suppress the news of it happening in those countries that forcibly prevent protest, and that plants the seed in people's heads that they too have the power to change things. It might not matter directly to you but it sure matters to the people of Bahrain and could potentially bring bing change to the region as a whole. Your short sightedness doesn't change the fact that these protests are pretty monumental.

Re:WTF (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241288)

Courage, self confidence, and willing to sacrifice is all that's needed for a revolution to start. But I'm also reminded that while taking down a government is hard, creating a better one in its place is even harder. Egypt isn't out of the woods yet as they're severely wounded with a vacuum of power left in the wake.

Re:WTF (1)

j_l_cgull (129101) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242326)

Courage, self confidence, and willing to sacrifice is all that's needed for a revolution to start.

What is needed for a revolution is a significant portion of the populace to feel that they have nothing to loose. That has been the case throughout history. Seemingly autocratic regimes are tolerated as long as the percentage of population that feels this way is substantially smaller than those who feel altering status quo would cause them to loose something they have (aka middle-class in modern terminology). This is the buffer between the (lots of) haves and have nots.

Re:WTF (1)

cowboy76Spain (815442) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242628)

Egypt has no power vacuum; it is clear that the army took over. The trouble is that Mubarak has been succeeded by the generals who have worked for him for lots of years, and people wants to keep pressure to avoid having to deal with the same guy with a different face.

Re:WTF (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35242812)

It also helps if 2/3 of your population is under 30 and you have a 24% unemployment rate (disproportionately effecting the young).

But sure, courage and all that.

Re:WTF (1)

Nick_13ro (1099641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35244256)

Courage, self confidence, and willing to sacrifice is all that's needed for a revolution to start. But I'm also reminded that while taking down a government is hard, creating a better one in its place is even harder. Egypt isn't out of the woods yet as they're severely wounded with a vacuum of power left in the wake.

There's no vacuum of power. Mubarak's military is in charge. (he being the former head of the airforce) And it's not at all clear they're not gonna fix the September elections they took upon themselves to organize.

Re:WTF (1)

xded (1046894) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241774)

It's unbelievable it always has to get to [wikipedia.org] that [wikipedia.org] point [wikipedia.org] , for people's minds to be awaken.

Shouldn't this be different in the internet era?

Oh, right, lolcats.

Re:WTF (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35255892)

Well, I think if you look at that list you'll see it's not a necessary precursor to revolution, nor is it an indicator that revolution will occur. After all, there were 8 in the US alone which resulted in no impact to politics. I think more importantly though it is an indicator that things have gotten so bad that people will contemplate self-harm as a method of political protest.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241242)

Did every country just get this hardware installed or did everyone just start protesting or did I just find out about world events?

Seems like every other story is a new country blacking out the entire public sector.

It's a firestorm of protest, and the repressive regimes are responding the only way they know how. I think the people are finding out that President Obama isn't going to prop up their current regimes just so we have a putative "ally" in the War on Terror, so now they have a chance to go their own way.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241454)

I think the people are finding out that President Obama isn't going to prop up their current regimes just so we have a putative "ally" in the War on Terror, so now they have a chance to go their own way.

People are finding out that President Obama isn't really going to help them either.... ask the Iranians.

Re:WTF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241502)

Great.

Re:WTF (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241516)

It's not hardware. The killswitch consists of someone in the government calling every major ISP and politely hinting that they really should pull out all those cables and turn off the routers, otherwise the secret police would be more than happy to kick the doors down and do it for them.

It must be a conspiracy... (1)

anexkahn (935249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240842)

Do these tweeting birds also have hats made of tin foil? I know revolution is popular over there right now, but does that mean that anything that happens now points toward it?

Re:It must be a conspiracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241004)

Really, all the middle-eastern demagogues are going to fold suddenly because of the internet?

Expect perpetual struggles.

Really? (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240848)

Accounts on the popular media-sharing site Bambuser have reportedly been blocked as well.

Either I don't spend enough time on the web, or that word "popular" doesn't mean what you think it means.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240960)

Or maybe you just think the Internet is limited to the USA/Western World and what isn't popular here isn't popular anywhere else.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241146)

Or maybe you just think the Internet is limited to the USA/Western World and what isn't popular here isn't popular anywhere else.

Okay, I know, don't feed the trolls, especially the ACs [says the AC], but ... that's an old, trotted-out argument (anti-US) I think I've fully tired of here on SlashDot, and doesn't hold weight with me. Even Wikipedia gives me an, "uhh... wha?" when I feed it the name "Bambuser". You fail.

Re:Really? (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241784)

The English-language Wikipedia is both English-centric and US/Europe/Western World-centric, so no surprises there.

'70s song (1)

The Clockwork Troll (655321) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240858)

Didn't Neil Sedaka prophecize this?

"Oh, I feel capped here in Bahrain ..."

Re:'70s song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240908)

Laughter in the reign.

Well, it looks different at least. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240864)

According to this graph from Arbor Networks, http://www.monkey.org/~labovit/bahrain.png the peaks are lower and the valleys are higher. It's fairly clear that there's more interest in using the internet, but something is throttling the bandwidth.

Re:Well, it looks different at least. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35242188)

Maybe the protesters being out on the streets, not protesting on the net during the day?

Re:Well, it looks different at least. (1)

Yacoob Al-Atawi (1192531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35247886)

If there is throttling here it is not nationwide, neither is it covering all ISPs. VIVA for example currently averages around 15kbps on a 21mbps package. I heard that the main ISP (Batelco) also had some slowdowns related to upgrades and changes in their network. Yet my Menatelecom connection is working exactly as it was before the demonstrations. Someone I know reported that while he had slowdowns during net surfing his download speed when torrenting was still fast.

First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240866)

First Pos...#*&$%#.....

Mighty quiet here (-1, Offtopic)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240868)

Is Slashdot throttled? I can't possible be FP

Re:Mighty quiet here (0)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241344)

Is Slashdot throttled? I can't possible be FP

...Indirectly, ever since the UI redesign, us users are being throttled every time we attempt to participate in the horrendous white-space laden +5 hiding Web-Two-Point-Oh-ey craptacular chicness that is the latest layout.

So yes.

"Twitter is abuzz" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240872)

'nuff said

And it continues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240898)

Amazing how easy it is for teh gov to pull the plug on our communications networks eh? We need a system that is independent of the networks they control, like internet ham radio or something.

Re:And it continues (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 3 years ago | (#35240952)

That exists [wikipedia.org] , sort of.

But it's a little too pokey to be wasting those precious bits on fucking farmville.

Truther Reports (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35240934)

Remember how slow the internet was on September 11th 2001?
THE GOVERNMENT!!!!

90% of the traffic going to one web site (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35241326)

It makes sense when you see that 90% of the web traffic is going to the adult site whatsundertheburkka.com. Oddly enough a similar site in Scotland, whatsunderthekilt.com, hasn't caused the same level of traffic.

Re:90% of the traffic going to one web site (-1, Offtopic)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241446)

That's because nobody in Scotland dies for looking under a kilt or letting someone look under one. It only takes a pint and a kind word in some cases. So why see it on the net when you can see it in person?

Of course, if you're a straight guy, what's under a burkka is more interesting than what's under a kilt.

Alternatives (3, Informative)

Ender_Wiggin (180793) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241710)

Well if Bambuser is being blocked (and I suspect its a mix of more slashdotting and blocking), there is also Qik [qik.com] and Ustream [ustream.tv]

Internet acces is the human right (2)

Max_W (812974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241794)

I modern times the Internet access became the part of of freedom of speech, information and, even, movement.

More likely cables. (1)

CrazyBusError (530694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241908)

Last I heard, the bandwidth problems had a lot more to do with an undersea cable fault that they've had for some time, now.

It's not throttling, just hellish routing, by all accounts.

Radar stations to Internet blocking (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35241922)

My dad spent a lot of his time, way back when, building radar stations in Canada, to protect the USA from attacks from the USSR. Now it seems to be that governments' defense against attacks, internal or external, means blocking the Internet.

Less bloat plz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35242156)

Yet another reason to avoid creating bloated sites.
And yet another reason to abandon bloated sites in favor of less bloated sites when possible.
(I'm talking to *you* Youtube and Slashdot etc)

Seen this before. (1)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 3 years ago | (#35243048)

They just need to reboot their router.

Boo Hoo? (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35243078)

ISPs have been throttling bandwidth for US customers for years, cry me a river.

Super typical goverments (1)

hishamaus (1991142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35245256)

This is getting more ridiculous everyday passes by Bahrain can't shut people up by disconnecting them from the internet and at the same time kill some try put out the fire from here, and spill gazoline over there

Backlash (1)

shambalagoon (714768) | more than 3 years ago | (#35247362)

If a government wanted me out of the streets, they'd keep the internet ON.

Take away my online gaming, email, chat, facebook, online shopping, and all my regular sites and I don't care what the protest is about - I'll march out and join it.
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