A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mixed Signals: Why Was the Internet Restored?

I'm wondering if the Egyptian government is profoundly divided. On this day when, for the first time since the withdrawal of the police last Friday, open violence was wielded against the demonstrators, the Internet was also restored around 11 am in Cairo. Facebook and Twitter are reportedly unblocked as well. It's possible there are deep divisions over how to proceed, but the attacks on the demonstrators suggest that at least some are determined to crush the movement. But why was the Internet restored?

The Army stood by today. Can it remain neutral much longer?


McDevite said...

I'm sure the Army has to jump soon. Though Time's article makes the case that the Army was always on the side of Mubarak, which is not especially heartening.

OTOH, if we're looking for government defections, you have the new Minister of Culture, Gaber Asfour, telling Mubarak to step aside rather than burn the country down, which is some pretty purple language if the situation were really in much more flux.

I can't imagine anyone but the Ministry of the Interior controls the internet. Originally, Nazif's power base, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, may have had it, but I'm sure Interior controls the actual infrastructure--especially as Ministry of Communications and Information Technology is vacant following Friday's sacking.

Following various twitter accounts, it looks like Mobilnil isn't back up, but that the Interior has used the renewed internet activity to track down and arrest activists like Ahmed Maher. So this may not be the most hopeful of signs.

MrTemecula said...

I think Mubarak had to reinstate the internet because he was having trouble coordinating his crackdown. Fortunately for the pro-democracy demonstrators, they seem to be better at coordination than the thugs.