Submarine data cables in Red Sea reportedly damaged by Yemeni Houthi Rebels - Fiber Optic Cabling Management
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Yemeni Houthi rebels

Submarine data cables in Red Sea reportedly damaged by Yemeni Houthi Rebels

Yemeni Houthi rebels are believed to have damaged undersea data cables in the Red Sea that link Europe to Asia. The Iran-backed Houthis had already threatened to target the fiber optic cables, which carry an estimated 17% of the world’s internet traffic, and it now appears that the group has carried out attacks. These submarine cables play a crucial role in maintaining global connectivity, and any damage can have significant implications for internet access and communication.

At least 15 submarine cables pass through the Bab al-Mandab Strait at the southern end of the Red Sea, a body of water just 26km wide at some points. Yemen is the Strait’s northern shore.

The first reports of damage to submarine cables off the coast of Yemen began to emerge on Monday morning, with Israeli news outlet Globes claiming that four cables (EIG, AAE-1, Seacom, and TGN-EA) had experienced damage. Seacom has reportedly confirmed damage to a cable it operates on a stretch between Kenya and Egypt. Seacom added that it was unable to confirm the cause of the disruption but noted that the location of the cable break is an area with ongoing tensions, making it a challenging environment for maintenance and repair operations.

The Ministry of Communications of the Yemeni government in the capital Sana’a — the name being used by Houthi rebel-held territories in Yemen that are not internationally recognized — has denied responsibility. The rebel government also gave a commitment to guarantee the development of the submarine cable network that passes through the Horn of Africa quadrant.

So far the main disruption caused by the damage to the cables has been internet issues in Djibouti. But any further attacks could cause more widespread issues. If more go offline, it will likely disrupt internet traffic between Europe and Asia, but would also have global consequences as the data flowing through the region will have to be routed somewhere else, and that somewhere could include North America.


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