By Shelley Smith
Internet and telephone services hit the Gulf Arab region when marine cables were cut causing communications disruption with Europe, the Middle East, and Asia on Wednesday. This will disrupt regional economics and could last for some time. In the BBC News article “Severed Cable Disrupts Net Access“, Friday, 19 December 2008, parts of the Gulf Arab region was plunged into darkness disrupting 80 percent of Egypt services, and 65 percent of services between Europe and India. Severe disruptions also included facilities in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan.
Two undersea cables were cut near the northern coast near Alexandria, Egypt and the Mediterranean between Sicily and Tunisia. The initial cuts were on sections linking Sicily to Egypt in the segments of two intercontinental cables known as Sea-ME-We-4 and Flag Europe-Asia and on Friday a third cable was revealed to be damaged off the UAE coast. According to a Arabian Business.com article Internet Problems Continue with Fourth Cable Break by Dylan Bowman, 21, December 2008, a fourth undersea telecoms cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das.
One cable is thought to be fully severed and the others partially cut, yet opinions of the cuts have been suggested either as unknown, or the cables may have been caught in trawler nets, underwater landslides, or ship’s anchors. However, it is thought the FLAG FEA, SMW4, and SMW3 lines, near Alexandria have all been cut and the main damage is to the submarine cables that run through the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal. Earlier in the year two lines off the Egyptian coast were said to have snapped.
In an Al Jazeera.net article “Cable Break Disrupts Internet“, December 20, 2008, Services may not be fully restored until the end of the year. Some Egypt services were diverting communications traffic through the Red Sea and the majority of business to business traffic between Europe and Asia is being redirected through the United States
Quoted within the BBC News article, “Normally you would expect to see one major break per cable per year. With four you should have an insurance policy. For this to happen twice in one year, on the same cable, is a serious cause for concern.” said Interoute director Jonathan Wright. Interoute manages part of the optical fibre network.
About the Author
Shelley Smith is an expert in analysis and research on varied national and international issues, homeland security, terrorism and counterterrorism, law enforcement, criminal justice systems, and other. Smith has an A.S. in Criminal Justice with Honors and a B.A in Intelligence Studies. She is currently pursuing an M.A. in Intelligence Studies Capstone with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies at American Military University.