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Houthis Knock Out Undersea Internet Connections in Red Sea

  • Multiple Israeli reports suggest that Houthis have damaged four underwater communications cables between Saudi Arabia and Djibouti, impacting internet connectivity between Europe and Asia.
  • While some cable operators have confirmed damage, others have not yet determined the cause, leading to conflicting accounts of the extent of the damage inflicted by the Houthis.
  • Repairs to the damaged cables could take up to eight weeks, with analysts warning of the high-risk environment in the region due to ongoing Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping, raising concerns about further disruptions.
Red Sea

There are new reports saying Yemen's Houthis have knocked out several underwater telecommunications cables linking Europe and Asia, however, some of the accounts of the extent of damage remain conflicting.

Multiple Israeli publications are reporting Monday that four underwater communications cables between Saudi Arabia and Djibouti have been damaged in recent months - the result of Houthi sabotage. The reporting appears to have originated in Israel's financial daily outlet Globes.

But one industry publication cautions, "One cable operator has confirmed damage to a cable in the region, but said it didn’t know the cause yet." Reportedly only the Seacom operator has issued confirmation that it has had cable issues at Djibouti.

According to the Israeli media report:

Three months after the Houthis began attacking merchant ships, the Yemenite rebels have carried out another one of their threats. "Globes" has learned that four submarine communication cables have been damaged in the Red Sea between Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Djibouti in East Africa.

According to the reports, these are cables from the companies AAE-1, Seacom, EIG and TGN. This is causing serious disruption of Internet communications between Europe and Asia, with the main damage being felt in the Gulf countries and India.

Other impacted cables are operated by the companies Tata, Ooredoo, Bharti Airtel, and Telecom Egypt, but these did not issue immediate comment or confirmation as to the reported damage or outages.

But the Seacom outage is now being confirmed by NetBlocks...

Israel's Globes says repairs could take up to eight weeks, but the waters in the region remain high risk due to what are now daily Houthi attacks on Red Sea shipping. The Houthis have lately made veiled threats they could take out the underwater fiber optic cables.

"The repair of such a large number of underwater cables may take at least eight weeks according to estimates and involve exposure to risk from the Houthi terror organization," the report says. "The telecommunications companies will be forced to look for companies that will agree to carry out the repair work and probably pay them a high risk premium."

Analyst Alberto Rizzi has explained that "at low depths, trained divers/ship anchors are enough to damage them" and that "Bab-el-Mandeb/Aden is a chokepoint where damage can impact multiple cables at once."

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