Houthis Disrupt Global Connectivity with Undersea Cable Attack 

A series of undersea cable damage in the Red Sea, critical to global internet and telecommunication services, have been severed on Monday. 

A series of undersea cable damage in the Red Sea, critical to global internet and telecommunication services, have been severed on Monday. 

This incident coincides with the ongoing tumult in the region, as Yemen’s Houthi rebels intensify their operations within this maritime corridor. On Monday, officials confirmed the damage to three vital cables, alongside a Houthi missile strike that ignited a vessel in the Gulf of Aden, thankfully without resulting in casualties. 

The precise cause of the undersea cable damage severance remains a mystery.  

Speculation has been rife about their targeting as part of the Houthi offensive, purportedly to leverage Israel into ceasing its operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Despite accusations, the Houthis have repudiated claims of their involvement in the sabotage. 

The ramifications of these actions could potentially exacerbating the already critical situation in the Red Sea, a key artery for both commercial and energy transport linking Asia and the Middle East to Europe. The disruption to telecommunications further complicates the ongoing crisis, threatening global connectivity and commerce. 

HGC Global Communications, based in Hong Kong, reported that the undersea cable damage impacted 25% of the data traffic traversing the Red Sea, affecting critical links including Asia-Africa-Europe 1, the Europe India Gateway, and the combined Seacom and TGN-Gulf lines. Efforts to reroute data traffic have commenced in response to the severed connections, stressing the importance of these routes for international data flow. 

Seacom, affected by the incident, indicated through preliminary tests that the disruption occurred within a segment under Yemeni maritime jurisdiction in the southern Red Sea. The company is actively redirecting traffic, although some services remain offline. 

Tata Communications, overseeing the Seacom-TGN-Gulf connection, initiated immediate corrective measures, highlighting its investment in diverse cable networks to mitigate such disruptions through automatic rerouting of services. 

In early February, Yemen’s internationally recognized government, now in exile, had warned of potential Houthi plots to target these undersea cables. This suspicion appeared validated on February 24, when the cuts were believed to have been made, leading to noticeable internet disruptions in Djibouti, as reported by NetBlocks and Seacom, which services the nation. 

While the Houthis have dismissed allegations of their involvement, attributing the disturbances to British and U.S. military operations without providing evidence, their past false claims cast doubt on these denials. 

The maritime conflict has escalated since November, with Houthi forces targeting vessels in the Red Sea amidst the broader Israel-Hamas conflict. These attacks have not spared even aid shipments bound for territories under their control or cargo destined for Iran, their primary supporter. 

The Houthis’ persistence in these hostilities, demonstrated by the recent sinking of a cargo ship and the downing of an American drone, signals their continued capability and intent to leverage maritime disruptions in their political struggle. 

In parallel, the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center and the private security firm Ambrey reported a new assault in the Gulf of Aden on a Liberia-flagged, Israel-affiliated container ship, which sustained damage from explosions but managed to extinguish the ensuing fire without crew injuries. 

The commitment by Yemen’s Houthi rebels to continue their maritime assaults until there is a change in Israel’s policy towards Gaza has captured the attention of the global community. By leveraging strategic maritime routes as a pressure point, the Houthis are drawing international focus to their demands, thereby linking the stability of vital global shipping lanes to the political dynamics in the Middle East. 

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