February 4, 2023 11:49 am

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After Ukraine, Elon Musk Now Set To Back Iranian Protesters

To counter the Iranian government’s censorship of the internet service, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced to provide satellite-based internet service to Iran

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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has announced plans to provide satellite-based internet service to Iran so as to enhance the flow of information for the Iranian people in the backdrop of the ongoing Hijab protest in Iran.

Earlier on 23rd September 2022, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared that the US has taken action to provide a free flow of information to the Iranian people and to counter the Iranian government’s censorship of the internet service in Iran. 

Elon Musk on Friday (23rd September 2022) vowed to activate its satellite-based internet service in reply to Blinken’s tweet.

Why are Iranian women protesting

A nationwide protest erupted in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini — a 22-year-old Kurdish Iranian woman who was detained by Iran’s morality police on the charge of violation of Iran’s conservative dress code.

Amini was detained by the police on the 13th of September, after which she died in a hospital on September 16, 2022. Although the authorities have pointed heart attack as the reason for her death, the reports claimed that she died due to extreme torture by the police.

News of her death outraged the Iranians, with thousands of people protesting on the streets in various cities including Kurdistan, the hometown of Mahsa Amini. Several demonstrations were held and slogans like “death to the dictator” were chanted.

Starlink and Protests in Iran

Starlink is a group of satellites that work together as a system to provide global internet coverage. It is an initiative of SpaceX, to provide internet services all around the globe, especially in places where internet service is tough to reach.

Elon Musk, the owner of Starlink has vowed to provide internet service to Iran as the Iranian authority has restricted the internet services to prevent the ongoing protests to spread to the entire Iran. 

Iran is currently under sanctions from the United States over its alleged nuclear programme. The United States wants to capitalize on the ongoing Hijab row to destabilize Iran. 

The United States initiative of providing free flow of internet service to Iranians in view of protecting women’s rights is doubtful as the US itself is non-signatory to The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which is a United Nations treaty that focuses on women’s rights and women’s issues worldwide.

Starlink and the Ukraine War

Military strategists all around the world were surprised by the performance of the Ukrainian armed forces in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Ukrainian President Zelensky and his armed forces were successful in defending their capital Keiv, and are currently on a counter-offensive against a superior Russian Army.

Although military strategists have attributed the success of Ukraine in the ongoing war to the support the west (particularly the US) has provided in the form of weapons and intelligence, however, there is a second aspect to it.

Elon Musk’s Starlink Satellite Network has contributed significantly to the Ukrainian military’ battlefield success. 

Before the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian military hackers disrupted Ukraine’s satellite broadband services by hacking it which hampered Ukraine’s military communications at the start of the war.

Today’s warfare is net-centric i.e command, control, and communication system of a country’s military are connected together in a network which is then operated through satellites. Any disruption in the network could hamper the coordination between troops, fighter aircraft, missiles, etc. This could paralyze an army’s advance during the war.

After facing a series of cyber attacks by Russia, Elon Musk was requested by Ukrainian officials to restart the internet services in view of rising Russian cyber attacks.

Elon Musk’s Starlink then provided internet service to the Ukrainian military. It was instrumental in helping the Ukrainian Military to coordinate with each other and even helped the Ukrainian forces to operate behind Russian lines.

Shubham Joshi
Shubham Joshi
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