NewsRed Sea internet cables cut, affecting Asia-Europe traffic

Red Sea internet cables cut, affecting Asia-Europe traffic

British cargo ship "Rubymar" sinking in the Red Sea after being attacked by Yemeni Houthi fighters
British cargo ship "Rubymar" sinking in the Red Sea after being attacked by Yemeni Houthi fighters
Images source: © Getty Images | 2024 Al-Joumhouriah TV
1:44 PM EST, March 9, 2024

According to the BBC, quoting HGC Global Communications based in Hong Kong, four out of 15 communication cables lying at the bottom of the Red Sea were damaged, affecting a quarter of the internet traffic between Asia and Europe.

HGC Global Communications announced on Monday that four submarine cables in the Red Sea—Seacom, TGN-Gulf, Asia-Africa-Europe 1, and Europe India Gateway—had sustained damage. Efforts have been made to minimize the impact on customers, with data rerouted through mainland China and under the Pacific Ocean to the USA. Other intact cables in the Red Sea are also being utilized.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington highlighted that approximately 97 percent of global data is transmitted via several hundred submarine cables. "These cables are vital to the worldwide information economy, covering over 867,000 miles and linking nearly every nation on the planet. Their number continues to increase as major technology firms lay and manage their own networks. Companies such as Amazon, Google, Meta, and Microsoft now manage about half of all submarine bandwidth globally," they report.

Submarine telecommunication cables damaged, cause unknown

The African telecommunication cable company, Seacom, informed the Associated Press that "preliminary examinations suggest that the damaged section is located within Yemeni maritime jurisdictions in the southern Red Sea." Simultaneously, a Pentagon official told CBS News, BBC's American partner, that submarine telecommunication cables in the Red Sea had been severed. The official also mentioned that the United States is investigating whether the damage was inflicted intentionally or accidentally by an anchor from the Rubymar ship in the Gulf of Aden.

It's important to remember: initially, the Houthi, a Yemeni armed group aligning with Hamas, were accused when the cables suffered damage. Yet, an assessment by the German company DE-CIX indicates that it was likely not the Yemeni militants who were directly responsible for the communication breakdown but rather the crew of the Rubymar ship.

Houthi militias and threats to Red Sea cables

Last month, the Yemeni government cautioned that the Iran-supported Houthi movement could potentially sabotage submarine cables and launch attacks on maritime vessels. The Houthis, controlling a major portion of Yemen's western coast along the Red Sea, refuted allegations last week of attacking cables, attributing any damages to American and British military operations. These operations were in retaliation to the Houthi's drone and missile assaults on commercial vessels navigating through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

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