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18 July, 2024
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Houthi threats target Red Sea internet backbone

Yemen telecoms brace for Red Sea cable sabotage


Telecom companies affiliated with the UN-recognized Yemeni government expressed concerns on Sunday over potential sabotage plans by Houthi rebels targeting a network of submarine cables in the Red Sea.

As reported by The Guardian, these cables play a critical role in the operation of the western internet and the transmission of financial data.

The apprehension surfaced following the publication of a map by a Houthi-linked Telegram channel, detailing the routes of cables along the Red Sea bed. Accompanying the map was a message highlighting Yemen's strategic location, emphasizing its significance in connecting continents through submarine internet lines.

Yemen Telecom disclosed diplomatic and legal efforts undertaken in recent years to dissuade global telecom alliances from engaging with the Houthis. Collaborating with the group, it argued, could furnish a terrorist faction with insights into the operational dynamics of submarine cables. Approximately 17% of the world's internet traffic traverses the Red Sea via fiber pipes.

The General Telecommunications Corporation of Yemen condemned the Houthi terrorist militia's threats to target international submarine cables. It cautioned that up to 16 such cables, vulnerable to damage from ships' anchors and seismic activities, traverse the Red Sea towards Egypt. Among the most strategic is the 25,000km Asia-Africa-Europe AE-1 cable linking southeast Asia to Europe via the Red Sea.

According to security analysts at the Gulf Security Forum, the relative technological limitations of the Houthis have historically safeguarded the cables. However, concerns persist as the cables, some as deep as 100 meters, are susceptible to disruption even without sophisticated submersibles. Notably, in 2013, Egyptian authorities apprehended three divers attempting to sever an undersea cable near Alexandria port, a pivotal link in European-Egyptian internet connectivity.

Moammar al-Eryani, Yemen's Information Minister, underscored the grave threat posed by the Houthis to one of the world's essential digital infrastructures. He categorically labeled the Houthis as a terrorist group with unrestrained motives.

In response, Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam reiterated their commitment to employing new tactics against perceived American-British aggression in Yemen. While affirming support for Gaza, Salam stressed Yemen's resilient military capabilities, resilient despite years of conflict. He urged restraint from Western powers and called for an end to the Israeli aggression against Palestine.

[With information sourced from The Guardian]

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