The Facebook generation has taken to the streets and the "Jasmin Revolt" has become a revolution, at least as of the time of writing. And the flight of former President Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia is inspiring people across the Arab world to take to the streets and warn their own sclerotic and autocratic leaders that they could soon face a similar fate.
As the French paper Le Monde described it, scenes that were "unimaginable only days ago" are now occurring with dizzying speed. Already, in Egypt, Egyptians celebrate and show solidarity over Tunisia's collapse, chanting "Kefaya" and "We are next, we are next, Ben Ali tell Mubarak he is next." Protests in Algeria and Jordan could easily expand thanks to the inspiration of the tens of thousands of Tunisians, young and old, working and middle class, who toppled one of the world's most entrenched dictators. Arab bloggers are hailing what has happened in Tunisia as "the African revolution commencing... the global anti-capitalist revolution."Juan Cole has a good piece in his blog today that summarizes the major developments.
More is also coming out about the role of the hacker group Anonymous in this struggle. It seems that they have been much more involved than just shutting down Tunisian government websites and cheering from the sidelines. Over a third of Tunisian have Internet access and Anonymous has many Tunisian participates. Last Friday, when I blogged about the a guide to safe Internet practices [in English, French & Arabic] and a software fix that was downloaded over 2000 times.
Through it's Operation Tunisia, Anonymous has been establishing and circulating lists of proxies and anonymous services that kept the Internet open for Tunisian activists even while they were shutting it down for the government with DDOS attacks. Anonymous targeted 7 major sites in Tunisia, including the stock exchange and government sites. In the case of the Prime Minister's site, they replaced the home page with their own "Open Letter to the Tunisian Government".
They have also stepped in where the MSM has feared to tread. They are working hard to see that news of what is happening in Tunisia get out, hacker style. For example this "Anon Care Package" is just one of many such news and video collections to be found on thepiratebay.org. The description says:
This archive contains videos and pictures uploaded from Tunisia on January 11th which were circulated on the Internet, and posted to Anonymous IRC by people of Tunisia.They have also been doing a lot of translating, putting subtitles on videos and getting the Tunisians story out to the world. They have also supported the Tunisia Relief Movement through this website [Officially endorsed by Red Crescent of Tunisia]. If you want make a large contribution directly to the Red Crescent of Tunisia click here. You can use your name or you can make an 'anonymous' donation. Now Anonymous is discussing a new operation to provide technical and economic relief to the people of Tunisia. They are calling this Operation Swift Assist.
The media has had little coverage, underestimated death tolls... This will show you the truth.
There are graphic images and videos, including the dead bodies of Tunisians. Keep in mind the reason for the cell phone cam's is media is prohibited in the country.
There is several videos depicting police opening fire on civilians, and images and video of the military taking the side of the people and protecting them.
The situation is only getting worse, another torrent of today's content(jan 12) will be uploaded tomorrow.
Information is power! SEED FOR FREEDOM!
irc.anonops.ru:6667 #OpTunisia : We're fighting for citizens of the world, come talk to us, see what you can do to fight for whats right.
This operation is intent on helping to ensure that the current period of chaos in Tunisia ends in victory for those who favor liberty and transparency.
Broadly, this is to be accomplished by providing Tunisians at home and abroad with the tools that we take for granted; we also hope to develop new techniques that can be used in those similar situations which will arise as various other technology-driven revolutions arise around the globe. Operation Swift Assist is an Anonymous effort with assistance from Project PM as well as a number of Tunisian nationals both in-country and elsewhere and a few Tunisian bloggers and outlets, with other partners to be added gradually.
The experiences created through this Operation may find usage in similar situations...
In memory of Sean Carasov.
U.S. Barrett Brown - firstname.lastname@example.org
Germany Netzblockierer - Netzblockierer@privatedemail.net
Some observers don't really expect anything new to come our of the Tunisian revolt. According to heathlander, that is the view of George Joffe. In this diary yesterday he says "it is unlikely to truly displace the regime in the short-term" and Joffe is "skeptical about the possibility of the Tunisian uprising sparking a wave of popular revolt across the region." He does think the regime will really be overthrown "primarily because there is no other body in Tunisia that has the capacity to administer the country."
Joffe doesn't credit Anonymous or even the Internet with playing an important role but he doesn't understand how the protests spread so quickly. "How did they spread so quickly and so effectively? The puzzle stems from the fact Tunisia has no active civil society. It has human rights groups, but no tradition of political organization outside the formal sphere. According to Joffe the precise mechanisms by which the unrest spread remain unclear."
So I guess he doesn't know everything.
Here is a recap of my other DKos diaries on this subject:
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation
Tunis: This Photo was Taken 66 Minutes Ago
The WikiLeaks Revolution: Anonymous Strikes Tunisia
EMERGENCY: DKos Must Act Now to Protect Tunisian Bloggers!
Free Software & Internet Show Communism is Possible
BREAKING - Digital Sit-Ins: The Internet Strikes Back!
Cyber War Report: New Front Opens Against Internet Coup d'état
Operation PayBack: 1st Cyber War Begins over WikiLeaks
The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next
BREAKING: Goodbye Internet Freedom as Wikileaks is Taken Down
BREAKING NEWS: Obama Admin Takes Control of Internet Domains!
Things Even Keith Olbermann Won't Cover - UPDATE: VICTORY!!!
Stop Internet Blacklist Bill Now!
Sweet Victory on Internet Censorship: Senate Backs Off!
Internet Engineers tell the Senate to Back Off!
Why is Net Neutrality advocate Free Press MIA?
Obama's Internet Coup d'état
Julian Assange on Threat to Internet Freedom