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Iraq Emerges From Isolation As Telecommunications Hub

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the out-of-a-landmine-laden-cocoon dept.

Networking 59

New submitter jamaicaplain sends this quote from an article in the NY Times: "Iraq, cut off from decades of technological progress because of dictatorship, sanctions and wars, recently took a big step out of isolation and into the digital world when its telecommunications system was linked to a vast new undersea cable system serving the Gulf countries. The engineers who designed and installed the cable that made shore in Al-Faw, near Basra, had to deal with an unusual number of challenges. There were more than 100 oil and natural gas pipelines to cross; stretches of shallow water where the cable had to be buried; and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq war that had to be avoided. ... Because of the crisis in Syria and the tensions over Iran, the possibility of routing traffic via Iraq has suddenly become more attractive to telecommunications operators. ... 'Iraq has a very strong strategic position to become a transit point for traffic between Europe and Asia.'"

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59 comments

Honest Question (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702245)

Due to superb mental prowess and pragmatic job selection, I'm now sitting on several hundred thousand dollars and have decided it is a proper time to purchase a home due to depressed values and low interest rates. My questions are thus: Do you think home values are at their minimum?
Do you think purchasing adjacent property as a survival compound is wise?
What types of items would you stock it with?
What type of armament(s) would you suggest?
As a backup source of electricity, is a generator the most practical thing or would you do solar (or wind)?

Re:Honest Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702307)

For a source of electricity you want solar, wind and a steam engine plus generator where you can fire anything that burns. Usually wood.

Re:Honest Question (0)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39702575)

Depends on where you plan on living.

They key to a survival compound is your ability to reach it as such having it on adjacent property does sound like a good course of action.

Black licorice, lots and lots of black licorice, you can never have enough.

A pea shooter and a very heavy door.

Solar, and any excess electricity should be stored as hydrogen.

Re:Honest Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702639)

> Do you think home values are at their minimum?

Not even close. Your remaining questions are moot.

Re:Honest Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702657)

Do you think home values are at their minimum?

Home values in Iraq are definitely at a minimum. In fact, you can probably find an abandoned property for free.

Do you think purchasing adjacent property as a survival compound is wise?

Yes.. if you have the money, purchase lots of land around your home and put up a concrete blocks. This will help keep out the suicide bombers.

What types of items would you stock it with? What type of armament(s) would you suggest?

automatic weapons, bullet proof vests.. maybe night vision goggles so you can watch out for terrorists during the night.

As a backup source of electricity, is a generator the most practical thing or would you do solar (or wind)?

Oh, you'll definitely need a generator. Iraq gets about 4-6 hours of electricity a day. Don't forget gas for your generator.

Re:Honest Question (0)

El Torico (732160) | about 2 years ago | (#39702667)

Q - Do you think home values are at their minimum?
A - It depends on where you want to buy, I suggest the UK or Switzerland, since they are both politically stable. Lots of Russian and 3rd World Oligarchs are buying there. The rest of Europe (except for the tax havens of Andorra, Monaco, and San Marino) don't look so good for price appreciation.
Q - Do you think purchasing adjacent property as a survival compound is wise?
A - Why, are you really expecting the Zombie Apocalypse?
Q - What types of items would you stock it with?
A - The usual, furniture, a flat screen TV, and a well stocked bar.
Q - What type of armament(s) would you suggest?
A - I'd put a properly trained Infantry squad on retainer. It frees up room in the house. That armory can now be a wine cellar. Of course, always keep a good shotgun around for home defense/duck shooting off the deck.
Q - As a backup source of electricity, is a generator the most practical thing or would you do solar (or wind)?
A - Both, generators are cheap enough to have around unless you want something over 15 kW.

lol (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702269)

But what happened with the mobile Port-O-Potties [wikipedia.org] that Bush Jr. and his Uncle Tom [wikipedia.org] told us that existed for why we needed to invade Iraq?

US Intel (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702277)

And whats the betting the pipe conveniently has a US Intel feed monitoring all the data. A way to spy on Europe, without having to get permission to tap into the European pipes directly

Re:US Intel (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 2 years ago | (#39707845)

And whats the betting the pipe conveniently has a US Intel feed monitoring all the data. A way to spy on Europe, without having to get permission to tap into the European pipes directly

Brilliant! Because sitting on Iraq end of an internet pipe going into Europe is SO much better than sitting on the American end of an internet pipe going into Europe because... well.... maybe not.

Re:US Intel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39707991)

I know that this is going to be news to the America-is-evil crowd, but the Iraqi government, despite being elected during the occupation, is not pro US at all, but rather a puppet of Iran. In the Middle East, religious loyalties dictate allegances - since this new Iraqi 'democratic' government is Shia dominated, as a result of Shia being the majority, Iraq follows pro-Iran and pro-Shia policies. In Bahrein for example, Iraq opposed the Saudi intervention on behalf of the Hanafas to quell the Arab Spring democratic uprising there, which like in Iraq, would have implied Bahrein going Shia, and consequently pro Iran. In Syria, Iraq supports the Assad regime, not the 'fellow democrats' of the Free Syrian Army (no this isn't RMS's militia to enforce GPL3 in Syria). Reason is simple - the Syrian insurrection is a Sunni insurection - all Shia and Alawites are solidly with the Assad regime, while the Free Syrian Army is heavily dominated by the Muslim brotherhood, who have started driving out Christians from areas they've occupied, like Homs.

It was never expected that the new Iraq would be a reflection of the US in the Middle East, but the new Iraq doesn't even believe in US values of plurality and minority rights. Christians in Iraq were actually okay under Saddam, but in the new Iraq, they are persecuted and most of them have fled to... Syria, of all places. If the US had expected a new democratic Iraq to be a bukwark against Iran, they were being incredibly naive, but the least that they had the right to expect was that Iraq would not persecute any segment of its population, such as the Assyrian and Chaldean populations. That hasn't happened, and so for people like the parent poster to think that Iraq is a doormat of the US just because the US oversaw the elections and helped putting together the current government have no idea of the adege that Muslim loyalties can never be bought, only rented.

On the main story about data cable lines having to come through the gulf and cross all the oil and gas pipelines, couldn't they have simply had these lines routed through Jordan? I know they are paranoid about them going to Israel, but even running the cables underground from Egypt to the Gulf of Aqaba to Saudi Arabia and then Jordan, and then Iraq would have made more sense. Of course, there is unrest in Western Iraq, in al Anbar province, but such a project could have been done by Jordan in the Sunni parts of Western Iraq, before being handed over to Iraq as it nears Baghdad. Other alternative - run it underground across Saudi Arabia into Iraq.

This was expected... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702285)

Obviously, this was going to happen. The US forces ran a ton of fiber to Iraq to support their own operations. When we left, we gave it back. Iraq would be stupid not to utilize the new optical links to generate some cash.

Re:This was expected... (0)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39702747)

But how can this stuff be protected? There are car-bombings almost daily in the news from Iraq.
All those foreign ideas arriving in Iraq are sure to piss off people who will truck bomb you merely for dressing different.

Re:This was expected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39705403)

Iraq as a "hub" of any description is a wet dream of western apologists.
When you cannot even keep a stretch of roadway clear of booby traps for any length of time, telecom infrastructures is merely another target of opportunity.
"Hub" my ass.

Re:This was expected... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708011)

I would substitute Iraq with any Muslim country in the Middle East as a hub. With Jihadis winning ground across the region - be it in elections like in Egypt and Tunisia or in insurrections such as Libya, all of which will be anti-Western, the idea of any of these places being hubs is a fantasy. Only regional hubs that I can think of there would be Israel and Cyprus. But with the US having damaged its relations with Israel, I doubt that even Israel would want to be a hub of the US, which actively supports its Jihadi enemies, like the new governemts in Egypt and Libya, and the insurrection in Syria.

Another Homeland Security monitoring site! (1, Insightful)

loftwyr (36717) | about 2 years ago | (#39702331)

Since Iraq is US controlled, that means that Homeland Security is likely to put a communications monitor system on the hub site. So, so much for routing around US observation...

Re:Another Homeland Security monitoring site! (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#39703455)

I don't know what media you've been consuming, but the Iraqi government of 2012 is openly hostile to the US government. Didn't you get the memo? It's understandable if your narrative regarding Iraq hasn't been updated since five years ago. You remember 2007? That was when Iraq disappeared from the pages of the mainstream media, what with the decisive defeat of al-Qaeda after the Sunni Awakening and all. It's understandable if your worldview is as outdated as "I kissed a girl and I liked it" by Avril Lavigne...the same year as "An Inconvenient Truth" won the Oscar for Best Documentary, beating out 'Iraq in Fragments' and the absurdly anti-Christian 'Jesus Camp'. [villagevoice.com]

Re:Another Homeland Security monitoring site! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39709567)

I don't know what media you've been consuming, but the Iraqi government of 2012 is openly hostile to the US government.

And how does that change the fact that the country is US controlled?

And if you think the US will ever hand back control to the Iraqis, you should study the history of countries who were taken over by the US.

Convienient Coincidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702365)

The Middle East's new "Telecommunications Hub" is a country that spent the past decade under the rule of a nation that has no qualms about over electronically spying on its own citizens without a warrant [eff.org]?

I'm sure everyone in the region would by dying to hop on-board and use their service.

Use Satellites (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#39702367)

Seems like a lot of hassle to get them Internet. Why can't they use satellites in space, and transmit with laser technology, It's been available for a decade now.

Re:Use Satellites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702457)

Sounds awesome for heavy downloading. But for anything nearing real-time, that speed-of-light thing is a real bitch.

Re:Use Satellites (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#39702475)

My understanding is that fiber is still far faster and cheaper than anything space-based, and the maintenance costs are of course far lower, as well.

Re:Use Satellites (5, Informative)

Fallon (33975) | about 2 years ago | (#39702503)

Because satellites suck. High latency, low bandwidth & high price. Maintenance costs along with laws of physics for a geosynchronous orbit and limited RF spectrum won't ever change those constraints. Their 1 advantage is the mobility within their footprint. Satellite TV still is very viable because the latency is a non-issue & the broadcast nature makes very efficient use of the RF spectrum.

Re:Use Satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702689)

Obviously written by someone never stuck "sucking on a satellite" for Internet access.

Re:Use Satellites (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#39702929)

Obviously written by someone never stuck "sucking on a satellite" for Internet access.

Satellite Internet seemed to work fine for web browsing last I used it. However, I wasn't paying the dollar per megabyte or whatever they charge these days, or trying to play online games.

Re:Use Satellites (1)

na1led (1030470) | about 2 years ago | (#39703153)

This is a different technology. Laser vs Radio transmission is not the same thing.

Re:Use Satellites (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 years ago | (#39706471)

They each go the same distance at about the same speed. Spot beams have been the laser of RF for a long time. They can relieve the congestion but not the latency and that's the killer issue. The fix for sats was leo clouds rather than goe sync to get the distance down. It was tried and pretty much failed, leo needs a lot of sats that need to be replaced often vs geo's one bird will do 1/3 the planet fairly easily and lasts 10-15 years.

sniff sniff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702369)

does all the fiber go through the US Embassy?

I bet they go back to isolation (1, Funny)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#39702399)

I bet they cut the cable a month after getting their first DSL bill.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (3, Interesting)

hendridm (302246) | about 2 years ago | (#39702467)

Or as soon as they "elect" someone who thinks the Internet is a slight against Allah.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702537)

How dare you use the name of the Holy One, you infidel dog.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702541)

"These youtube videos glorifying cats are an offense to Allah! The Prophet Mohammed did not have a cat, it was the filthy Egyptian polytheists who had cats. We should be worshipping Allah, not cats!"

God, westerners are so iggernant. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702909)

The prophet Mohammed cut the sleeve off his robe to avoid disturbing a sleeping cat.

Why do you think the USA tortures Muslims with dogs, eh? Using a dog on an observant Muslim is like force-feeding an Orthodox Jew pig's blood. Totally not kidding. We do this to break them psychologically.

Anyone with the slightest knowledge of world affairs knows this.

Re:God, westerners are so iggernant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39703419)

Using a dog on an observant Muslim is like force-feeding an Orthodox Jew pig's blood. Totally not kidding.

In one case, you are exposing a person to a largely harmless creature his imaginary sky-magician has said is dirty.

In the second case, you are forcibly contaminating someone with an agricultural waste product (which, coincidentally, his imaginary sky-magician has said is dirty.)

You think these things are equivalent? Seriously?

Re:God, westerners are so iggernant. (1)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#39703485)

Replace the blood-drinking with just being around it, and there you go.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702607)

Why say "elect"? What information do you have that their elections are even slightly as corrupt as those in the U.S.? And how do you know religion will affect their elections as much as in the U.S., where a viable candidate stated repeatedly that man's laws must comport with god's? That same candidate proposed banning porn from the internet, and people still treated him seriously.

You bigoted cretin.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (1)

Bigby (659157) | about 2 years ago | (#39702645)

Who thinks it is a slight? Or who says that he thinks it is a slight? The former is stupid AND ignorant; the latter is just a smart political move if your goal is to head an oligarchy through suppression. Not that suppression is going to work in the long run...

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39703329)

Or as soon as they "elect" someone who thinks the Internet is a slight against Allah.

Even then they wouldn't cut the lines. They would just not allow local access to the lines. Islamist states aren't stupid; the rents they would get from these lines would be significant, but more than that it gives them strategic influence as well.

Re:I bet they go back to isolation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708019)

Speaking of which, would Iraq be a part of the new internet that Iran is trying to create?

It might just be me... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702441)

But i'm really getting sick of hearing about iran, iraq, afghanistan, syria, egypt, israel and hell.. the rest of the middle east. All of it.

For one of the youngest countries on the planet the USA kinda keeps it's shit together pretty well. 50 states and all.
Why can't these countries that have been around for thousands of years get their shit together...
Not that the usa is any real prize either.. But damm. Fuck the middle east. Every single country. Fuck em.
Damm shame we can't put the entire area in a giant bubble and let them fight it out once and for all. Way more trouble than they are worth. Even with the oil.

Yeah i know. I mentioned israel. I must be an anti-semite. Mod this down.

Such bullshit that NOT killing people and actually putting in a new cable is such big news just because it's in a shithole area run by people who can't get along. Even with thousands of years of practice.

Re:It might just be me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702839)

Yeah, well, I know what you mean. What with both Jewish and Arab ancestors, an unreasonably optimistic and giving American upbringing, and a long time working for the UN in the middle east, you would think that I would have some hope or sympathy for those involved. Instead, I came back to America with a distinctly hardened attitude.

Fuck 'em. Palestinians and Jews? They deserve each other. They spew vitriol, kill each others' children, stomp on each others' houses, spit on the others' religion, steal, ruin, and dig, dig, dig to make the problems worse. Never have I found a culture so resistant to conflict resolution from within and without. As individuals, I found both cultures to have deep, compassionate, intelligent individuals. As a collective, each culture was a barbaric, disgusting amalgam of loathing and greed, worthy only of being stomped out of existence then glassed in as an enduring and visible warning to others. They'll do it to themselves; I just with they would do it faster.

Re:It might just be me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708061)

You mentioned Israel because you are too much of a chicken to go after the perps alone, and try to demonstrate a (warped) sense of justice by putting them on the same pedestal. It's no different from a school teacher punishing 2 kids - one of who's being bullied by the other and fights in self defense - equally. It's called moral equivalency, and is particularly a bankrupt approach when it comes to Muslims and any other religious groups.

Like it or not, Israel is the only country in the region that guarantees minorities their rights, despite being a Jewish state. Nazareth for instance, is dominated by Muslims - under the Palestinian propaganda narrative, they should have all fled this 'racist, apartheid state'. But nobody is fleeing Israel for Muslim countries, whereas Christians have fled Iraq and now fleeing Syria and Egypt, while Jews are fleeing Tunisia.

The real problem is all Muslim countries, whether in the Middle East or elsewhere. Philippines is not a part of the Middle East, but they too are battling a Muslim insurrection in Mindanao. Thailand is not a part of the Middle East, but they too are battling a Malay separatist movement in South Thailand. Mali just lost Timbuktoo to some Taureg Jihadis, who are now bent on driving out the few Christians there, and in Nigeria, there is a civil war on to impose Shariah law on the entire country. It's all over the Islamosphere.

There would have been no problem had cable been laid in Israel - in fact, I can bet you that unlike in this case of Iraq, it wouldn't even be news. There is a major reason that Israel has been a major technology hub, while none of its neighbors are.

I'm neither a Jew nor Christian nor Muslim, but Jews get along fine with other people, whether in Israel, US, Europe or anywhere else. Muslims, on the other hand, not only don't get along with non Muslims - they can't even tolerate other sects, which is why you have Shia-Sunni wars, Shia persecuting Bahai, Sunnis persecuting Ahmadiyas, and so on.

Iraq trouble was worth it afterall? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702581)

I suppose there is a reason for this good news?
Try to spin whatever you can on our endeavor there. The beacon of democracy wins over the evil empire!
Yaaadaa Yaaadaa Yaadaa. Filter away, amigos.

You Iraqi Ingrates (2, Funny)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#39702589)

After we spend billions arming and installing what can only be described as the Middle East's classiest dictator ever (ah the 80s), we were forced to spend years of diplomatic man hours sanctioning you senseless (the roaring 90s), then finally something like $1 trillion literally removing your precious, regional Hitler by force....How about a little thanks for (possibly) becoming the 4th most used telecommunications go-between for European and Asian (countries that matter) communication? We've already got our oil firms pumping all that pesky oil for you. Is there anything else we can do for you, ingrates?? You never had it so good.

Re:You Iraqi Ingrates (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 2 years ago | (#39703713)

Modded troll? That was hilarious!

Neo-con mod squad again, I guess.

Re:You Iraqi Ingrates (1)

doston (2372830) | about 2 years ago | (#39704607)

Modded troll? That was hilarious!

Neo-con mod squad again, I guess.

Being modded Troll cut deep. Yeah, could be a neo-con who disagrees (although I don't see how) or some PC doof with poor reading comprehension who thinks I'm being 'mean' to Iraqis. Afterall, haven't they suffered enough by all they brought on themselves!!!???? :-D

Re:You Iraqi Ingrates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39708085)

I don't see why 'neo-Cons' would have modded this down. The only people I see who could have modded this down are PCMC multiculturalists who think that Muslims are wonderful people capable of the same achievements as others, such as Americans, Europeans, Japanese, Koreans and the rest. Your criticism, while dead on, pees on that hunky dory narrative.

I'd say that the policies of the US towards Iraq in the 80s were a result of both the Cold War, as well as the new enemity between the US and Iran. Normally, Iraq was a Soviet ally, like Syria, and the US wouldn't have given it the time of day, but it allowed Anwar Sadat's and Hosni Mubarak's Egypt to write its policy on Iraq, since it was taking a real propaganda beating from the Soviets on Israel, and had little Arab support as a result (outside the oil sheikhs in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrein and Kuwait.) So it did that, and in the process, made Iraq the 4th largest army in the world - great for fighting Iran, but not so great when Saddam turned his sights on Kuwait.

But one thing good about that US support to Iraq - it had 2 major Muslim powers fighting each other for 8 years, and pretty much destroying much of the fighting abilities of both countries. I have long maintained that internecine warfare between Muslims, left to their own devices, is a good thing. As it is, the principle of 'live and let live' is alien to them, so either they convert others, or convert to others. Hence, it's not enough that Shia in Iraq today are free to practice their faith - they have to start persecuting Christians and Sunnis in the process. With that sort of an outlook, it's in the best interests of not just the west, but the rest of the world, that Muslim on Muslim wars continue and weaken them to a point that they're not a threat to others. It's a machiavellian thought, but the only one that works given this reality.

Navel Mines? (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 2 years ago | (#39702753)

"and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq war that had to be avoided"

Since this is an undersea cable I can only assume they are referring to Navel Mines... They are still bobbing about? Crazy.

Re:Navel Mines? (1)

rogueippacket (1977626) | about 2 years ago | (#39703115)

It would be interesting to see what kind of state the sea-floor is in. It may not be just naval mines - it may be off-target artillery shells, dumped munitions from planes, leftovers from a wreckage. Really, I'm sure the crews routed around anything that looked dangerous.

Re:Navel Mines? (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39703381)

"and unexploded ordnance from the Iraq war that had to be avoided"

Since this is an undersea cable I can only assume they are referring to Navel Mines... They are still bobbing about? Crazy.

It's not all undersea cable; as the summary notes, it runs ashore near Basra and, I assume, would then continue overland. So they would probably have tried to avoid major roads and other areas that would have been likely IED sites. The larger IEDs can create rather large craters (maybe the shockwave could damage nearby underground cable as well?), and most of any remaining IEDs would be pressure or trip-wire activated and could remain unexploded for a while.

Re:Navel Mines? (1)

unixisc (2429386) | about 2 years ago | (#39708097)

Most of the IEDs were in Baghdad, and al Anbar province. Basra, which didn't take much part in the insurrection since they were pretty happy to let Americans get killed while getting all of Iraq under Shia rule, was pretty much free of these IEDs.

hope for the best but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39702835)

'There were more than 100 oil and natural gas pipelines to cross'
'Iraq has a very strong strategic position to become a transit point'

The country is weak due to cutlural conflicts, so the world powers are taking advantage of the weakness and sucking the oil out for a discount, yet it's stable enough for a strategic information depot?

Re:hope for the best but (1)

tibman (623933) | about 2 years ago | (#39705291)

All Iraqi's i've met can haggle very well. I doubt anyone is taking advantage of them or getting any kind of discount.

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