Across the Bay

Friday, May 05, 2006

Jingoistic Hack

Wait... just give me a minute to wipe the tears... this is too funny. OK, much better.

So, yet another brilliant Syrian official (they all are, they just compete in the level of brilliance), Communications Minister Omar Salem, has accused five Lebanese IT experts working in Syria of hacking into Syrian national security network (the password to which they themselves had created!)!

Wait, there's more! Minister Cyber Sleuth here personally uncovered this conspiratorial web of evil, and tracked these sinister Lebanese hackers until he caught them red handed. But -- this is the best part -- showing the well-known Syrian magnanimity, he recommended they be deported, not arrested, on the condition they transmit all their work expertise to Syrians before leaving!

I can't stop myself from laughing even as I'm typing this! Now all you haters out there wondering when exactly Syria managed to digitalize its national security files, should be reminded that Bashar is the Wunderkind of the "internet generation" as all the hapless journos like Charlie Rose and James Rubin still blithely refer to him!

Besides, considering that Syria's "national security" is a family matter, confined to a total of 5 people, I guess all one needs to do is hack into Bashar's PC! As the Minister said, "their hacking would have been a disaster on Syria had they been able to continue undetected"! Indeed!! But he did reassure a worried nation that protective measures will be increased. A collective sigh of relief was heard all over Syria, as Syrians languishing in jails, unemployed, and facing hikes in the prices of food and medicine, felt that at least their digital security was a priority of the Wunderkind reformer! "Wheeww, that was a close one," said one Syrian detainee in jail, who hitherto had been held incommunicado, and is now facing military court on trumped up charges. Another Syrian slipped and said, "we have computers in government?" At which moment he was promptly whisked away and has never been heard from since. As he was being taken away he was heard screaming, "why don't I just get deported like the Lebanese guys?" The men in black didn't think that was funny, and punched him silly.

I mean this is just hilarious! Hackers!? The regime needs to whip up more chauvinistic jingoism, and continue to mess around with Lebanon (as in their continued encroachment on Lebanese territory), so it musters all its creativity and comes up with this nonsense!

But it doesn't beat Buthaina Shaaban, the queen mother of con artists. A worthy student of the Farouq Sharaa-Walid Moallem school, and a strong rival of Faysal Mekdad, and mentor to Imad Mustapha, Buthaina recently told a delegation of the US Institute for Peace (what the hell are they doing in Syria is my quetsion) that Syria is moving steadily in its reforms!! Indeed. For instance, now instead of just arresting Kurds at random, the regime now also demolishes their houses. Instead of merely arresting middle-aged opposition members, they arrest 70 year-old retired men for openly discussing the sorry state of affairs at a cafe with friends, and hold them incommunicado. Indeed, instead of arresting opposition members themselves, they now arrest them and their sons, and hold all of them incommunicado. Then, when they're pressed to reveal their whereabouts, a month later, they refer them to the State Security Court!

One must admit, that for such a short period of time, Bashar's reforms have been monumental! Not wanting to share his status as representative of the "internet generation," Bashar has shut down a couple of independent internet publications. And for good measure, he's prosecuting people for printing out and distributing material. Besides, as Walid Moallem recently said on al-Jazeera, there is no opposition in Syria, it's just "a few individuals, no more than ten or so" and no one arrests them. The regime "respects" them and has "discussions" and "exchanges views" with them!

Indeed, the pace of reforms has been moving forward so quickly that the committee of the Damascus Declaration declared that Syria has returned to the 1980's, the dark ages of state security repression, arrests, and crackdowns. So much reform has been unleashed, in fact, that practically every single day now has reports of massive crackdowns, arrests, summons, harrassment, or the like.

Human rights activists can barely contain their enthusiasm at this unprecedented show of "reformist impulses." One of them, Akram al-Bunni, reflected on the sense of euphoria and optimism and encapsulated it in this buoyant comment: "All it [the regime] has left to assert its power is to sow traditional fear and terror in society."

Syrian writer Taher Ibrahim, commenting on Moallem's sorry performance on al-Jazeera, captured it well. He wrote a piece entitled: "Lie, then lie some more, and we'll know you're a Syrian official."

Update: Abu Kais tries to understand Syria's national security information network, but stops before his head explodes.