Telecom firms fear Houthi threats to critical Red Sea internet cablestext_fields
Telecom firms affiliated with Yemen's UN-recognized government have sounded alarms over potential sabotage threats posed by Houthi rebels to a network of submarine cables in the Red Sea which are integral to the functionality of the western internet and the transmission of vital financial data.
The concerns escalated after a Houthi-linked Telegram channel circulated a map detailing the routes of these cables along the seabed of the Red Sea. The ominous message accompanying the map hinted at the strategic significance of Yemen's location in facilitating global internet connectivity.
Yemen Telecom disclosed that it has been engaged in diplomatic and legal efforts for several years to dissuade international telecom alliances from engaging with the Houthis. The fear is that any collaboration could provide the terrorist group with operational knowledge of the submarine cables, which carry approximately 17% of the world's internet traffic.
Yemen's General Telecommunications Corporation condemned the Houthi threats, highlighting the vulnerability of the cables to damage from ships' anchors and natural disasters like earthquakes. Security analysts at the Gulf Security Forum suggested that the cables have remained safe largely due to the Houthis' technological limitations rather than a lack of intent.
While the Houthis lack the advanced capabilities to reach the cables, concerns persist as some sections of the cables are relatively shallow, making them susceptible to simpler forms of interference. In a precedent, Egypt arrested three divers in 2013 for attempting to sever an undersea cable near Alexandria, disrupting vital internet connectivity between Europe and Egypt.
Moammar al-Eryani, Yemen's Information Minister, emphasized the grave threat posed by the Houthis to critical digital infrastructure globally, branding them as an unrestrained terrorist group.
In response, Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdul Salam reiterated the group's commitment to supporting Gaza amidst ongoing conflicts, asserting the resilience of Yemen's military capabilities against external aggression.