Why are people blaming Yemen’s Houthis for cutting the Red Sea cables? | Houthis News

Questions arose after four cables were cut; Some observers say it may have been the Houthis, others say it was an accident.

Beirut, Lebanon – Officials in the United States say undersea telecommunications cables in the Red Sea were severed on Tuesday, disrupting 25 percent of data traffic between Asia and Europe.

A US official told the BBC they were trying to find out if the cables had been sabotaged or if this was the result of an anchor dragging on the seabed.

But what are these cables? Who put them there? How important are they?

Here you will find everything you need to know about the world of submarine cables.

What are submarine cables for?

Communication.

Telecommunications signals and messages pass through parts of the ocean via these cables at almost the speed of light.

Sixteen fiber optic cables, accounting for 17 percent of all international internet data traffic, run along the seabed of the Red Sea.

Who is the owner?

Almost all of the world’s submarine cables are owned by private companies – telecom operators or investors.

Only about 1 percent is (fully or partially) owned by a government.

What happens when submarine cables are cut?

In short: global communication has been disrupted.

“Submarine infrastructure is now… such a crucial part of the global economy that… it could have a disproportionately large impact,” Nick Loxton, head of intelligence at Geollect, told Al Jazeera.

Remember that the Red Sea accounts for 17 percent of all international internet data traffic? Removing all cables there would disrupt European communications with India and East Asia and affect North and East Africa.

Which cables were cut on Tuesday and how?

Four of nearly two dozen undersea cables in the Red Sea – Seacom, TGN-Gulf, Asia-Africa-Europe 1 and Europe India Gateway – were cut on Tuesday, said HGC Global Communications, which operates the cables.

Officials are still trying to figure out how they were cut. Theories include that it could have been an anchor holding the cables or an intentional disruption.

What effect did that have?

In the past, damaged cables have led to interruptions in internet service, but “most … businesses that rely on these cables have alternate routes,” Loxton said.

HGC Global said crucial traffic passing through the Red Sea was being diverted.

The Houthis have become a concern for the West. Shown here is a protest against US-led attacks on Houthi targets, near Sanaa on January 14, 2024 [Khaled Abdullah/Reuteres]

Is there a Houthi connection to the cables being cut?

The Houthis have one rack denies responsibility for cutting the cables.

In February, the Houthis published a map on their Telegram channel showing the cables along the bottom of the Red Sea.

Telecom companies linked to Yemen’s internationally recognized government and opposing the Houthis said they fear the rebels could target undersea cables.

“It is increasingly seen as a valid target for actors involved in violent conflict,” Loxton said of the idea. “It’s a valuable target that they can target at a relatively low cost.”

Why did some people think the Houthis did it?

The Houthis have attacked Israeli-affiliated ships in the Red Sea in a show of support for the Palestinian people.

They recently hit a Belizean-flagged British bulk carrier, the Rubymar, with two missiles. The ship has sunk and has been leaking oil since the attack. Now there are fears for the 41,000 tonnes of volatile fertilizer it was carrying.

Commercial ships sometimes lose their anchors, causing cables to be severed. Loxton noted that in 2023, a Russian fiber optic cable was severed under the Baltic Sea when a Chinese container ship dragged its anchor across the seabed.

Some experts believe the Houthis need help from an ally to damage the cables, while others say they could do damage on their own.

“I think with the proliferation of technology, things like drones are actually being democratized… operations that previously seemed impossible for a relatively unsophisticated, non-state actor like the Houthis are now perfectly within their reach,” Loxton said.

Where are the world’s submarine cables?

Everywhere.

Today there are approximately 380 cables in use, with a total length of more than 1.2 million km (745,645 miles). That’s enough to reach the moon and back, with plenty left over.

The cables often lie in bundles along the seabed, meaning damage is often caused by more than one cable.

The Red Sea has a series of cables running through the relatively shallow water.

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