Undersea cables broken in the Middle East- update thread - 5 years later its happening again

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Undersea cables broken in the Middle East- update thread - 5 years later its happening again

Five years after this this was first reported, its happening again. See the last post for the latest.

In 2008 this was the news ....

So far a total of 3 with discussion over a 4th undersea internet cable have been cut over the last week. Why is this not news? This thread adds to the changing topic.

One cable breaking night be an accident, but a second cable breaking within days starts to look like sabotage.

I can imagine that some of the more fanatic Islamists would be happy to see the internet disrupted. There have been stories of Internet cafes in Gaza, Egypt and Morocco being bombed by religious fanatics.

With Iran losing its total internet access, can it be a precursor to an attack?

However never attribute to malice what can be explained by human stupidity.

A submarine cable in the Middle East has been snapped, adding to global net problems caused by breaks in two lines under the Mediterranean on Wednesday.

The Falcon cable, owned by a firm that operates one of the previously damaged cables, was snapped on Friday morning.
The cause of the latest break has not been confirmed but a repair ship has been deployed, said owner Flag Telecom. Following the earlier break internet services were severely disrupted in Egypt, the Middle East and India.

There was disruption to 70% of the nationwide internet network in Egypt on Wednesday, while India suffered up to 60% disruption.

Flag Telecom said a repair ship was expected to arrive at the site of the first break - 8.3km from Alexandria in Egypt - on 5 February, with repair work expected to take a week. A repair ship deployed to the second break - 56km from Dubai - was expected to arrive at the site in the "next few days", the firm said.

The first cable - the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) - was cut at 0800 on 30 January, the firm said. A second cable thought to lie alongside it - SEA-ME-WE 4, or the South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 cable - was also split.


Here is a map of undersea cables showing in black the first cable that was damaged.


Intenet traffic report

iran-no-internet.jpg - 29.15kb
By netchicken: posted on 2-2-2008

Offiicial release on the cable breaks

FLAG Europe-Asia cable was cut at 0800 hrs GMT on January 30 2008.
Location of cut is at 8.3 kms from Alexandria, Egypt on segment between Egypt and Italy.

FLAG has restored circuits of customers who are covered under Pre-planned Restoration service.

FLAG is implementing restoration on alternative route for customers who have requested Ad hoc Restoration service.

The Repair ship is expected arrive at the site by February 5 2008. The Repair work will be completed within a week thereof.

Cut # 2:
FALCON cable is reported cut at 0559 hrs GMT on February 1 2008.

Location of cut is at 56 kms from Dubai, UAE on segment between UAE and Oman.

FLAG is arranging Restoration of circuits for customers covered under Pre-planned Restoration service.

Customers have been advised to contact their respective Account Managers for Ad hoc Restoration service.

The Repair ship has been notified and expected to arrive at the site in next few days.

By netchicken: posted on 2-2-2008

A third undersea cable cut

Ok this is going too far to be coincidence.

Another submarine cable in the Middle East has been snapped, adding to global net problems caused by breaks in two lines under the Mediterranean on Wednesday. The Falcon cable, owned by a firm that operates one of the previously damaged cables, was snapped on Friday morning.

The cause of the latest break has not been confirmed but a repair ship has been deployed, said owner Flag Telecom. Following the earlier break internet services were severely disrupted in Egypt, the Middle East and India.

There was disruption to 70% of the nationwide internet network in Egypt on Wednesday, while India suffered up to 60% disruption.

More on the site


Here is a photo of the undersea cable, it just lies on the bottom.

underwater_cable.jpeg - 28.19kb
By netchicken: posted on 2-2-2008

As a humorous aside, sharks have had a taste for undersea cables in the past. Maybe there is some sort of feeding frenzy happening?

Sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fiber-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe and Japan, telephone company officials say.

Sharks have shown an inexplicable taste for the new fiber-optic cables that are being strung along the ocean floor linking the United States, Europe and Japan, telephone company officials say.

In the Atlantic alone, shark bites have caused the failure of four segments of cable, which is the main artery for global voice and computer communications. And British telephone officials monitoring the installation of the fiber-optic network that will link the United States to Japan and Guam are also reporting troubles with gnawing sharks.

The attacks have caused some delays in laying cable, and a single bite on a deep-sea line, which is about the size of a garden hose, can cost $250,000 or more to fix.

There is a benefit, however. In studying ways to limit damage from the attacks, the telephone companies are providing marine scientists with valuable new data on sharks and specimens of previously unknown species.

By netchicken: posted on 2-2-2008

Even though India suffered a disruption I still got a call from a telemarketer today!! How the hell is that possible ??

Do they have some backup cables or something???

Oh Oh!

... Quote:

India Internet capacity at 80 pct after cables break

BANGALORE, Feb 1 (Reuters) - India's Internet services were operating at about 80 percent of capacity on Friday after breaks in undersea cables disrupted Web access, and normal services could be restored in a week, an industry official said.
The underseas cable connections were disrupted off Egypt's northern coast on Wednesday, affecting Internet access in the Gulf region and south Asia, and forcing service providers to reroute traffic.
India's booming outsourcing industry, which provides a range of back-office services like insurance claims processing and customer support to overseas clients over the Internet, played down the disruption, saying it had back-up plans in place.
Rajesh Chharia, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of India, said service providers were diverting Internet traffic to ensure there was no disruption in services.
"I would say 70 to 80 percent of the Internet services are operating normally now. It will take about a week to bring the services back to normal," Chharia said.
"Though we will continue to see some latency, there won't be any chocking in Internet access that we saw in the last couple of days." He said cable repair ships had already been SENT to fix the breaches, which are in segments of two intercontinental cables known as SEA-ME-WE-4 and FLAG. A spokesman for FLAG in Mumbai has declined comment on the state of restoration of operations but Punit Garg, chief executive officer of FLAG Telecom, said on Thursday the cable breaks would not cause any revenue loss to the company.
"Where the cable cut has happened, we are building a new cable over there, which is the FLAG Mediterranean cable, which will connect Egypt to France," Garg told an investor conference call.
"So in future we will see that FLAG will have a fully redundant and resilient network.... For our enterprise customers, that (connectivity) is being taken care through the restoration on other alternate hubs."
FLAG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of India's No. 2 mobile operator Reliance Communications and it operates a cable network of 65,000 route kilometres connecting the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Asia.

They are unbelievable! Even thought half the middle east has lost Internet they are still running at 80% of their capacity! That means they can still go another 20% !!
By IAF: posted on 2-2-2008

Cable damage was NOT because of shipping accidents.

CAIRO - Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.

The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.
... Quote:
The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area.

The area is also marked on maps as a no-go zone and it is therefore ruled out that the damage to the cables was caused by ships.
the statement added.

Two cables were damaged earlier this week in the Mediterranean sea and another off the coast of Dubai, causing widespread disruption to Internet and international telephone services in Egypt, Gulf Arab states and South Asia.

A fourth cable linking Qatar to the United Arab Emirates was damaged on Sunday causing yet more disruptions, telecommunication provider Qtel said.

By netchicken: posted on 4-2-2008

"Rumor" is that the cables were actually cut
... Quote:
'm in Dubai currently and they reported on the news that the cables have been destroyed by a cutting torch.

It showed pictures of the lengths, and they do indeed look like they were cleanly cut. One of the engineers who went down on the dive said that it appears a cutting torch was used to sever the cables.

They said that they'll have to replace an entire 1/8th mile section of the cable to restore services and that the work should be complete by the end of the week.

From http://reddit.com/info/67iv...

Four cables down and still not on the news?
By netchicken: posted on 4-2-2008

Finally the mainstream media are picking up the news.

'Information warfare?'

It was assumed a ship's anchor severed the cables, but now that is in doubt and the conspiracy theories are coming out.

Egypt's Transport Ministry says video surveillance shows no ships were in the area at the time of the incident.

Online columnist Ian Brockwell says the cables may have been cut deliberately in an attempt by the US and Israel to deprive Iran of internet access.

Others back up that theory, saying the Pentagon has a secret strategy called 'information warfare'.

But Mr Budde says it is far more likely to be a coincidence.

"It is absolutely strange, of course, that that happens. At the moment it really looks like bad luck rather than anything else," he said.

Telecommunications professor at the University of Melbourne, Peter Gerrand, says Australia is in a far better position than India to withstand a cable breakage.

"We've got, in effect, five really major separate cables, each with high capacity, most of which have plans for upgrading their capacity in the next few years," he said.

Professor Gerrand does not believe Australia is vulnerable to the types of major disruptions that India and Egypt have seen.

"I gather India has most of its capacity on two cables - one's to its west and one to its east - so when the western cable got cut near Egypt, all this traffic had to then pass through a single cable and that's what's caused these very huge delays," he said.

By netchicken: posted on 5-2-2008

More articles emerging...

Throw in a fourth undersea cable getting cut in less than a week and it’s hard to not think something strange is going on. According to ArabianBusiness.com a fourth undersea Internet and telephone cable was severed. Qatar Telecom (Qtel) announced on Sunday that the fourth cable running between the Qatari island of Haloul and the United Arab Emirate island of Das was damaged.

ArabianBusiness.com reports that it was told unofficially that the cable breakage in this case wasn’t caused by a ship, but was related to the power supply. DailyTech reported yesterday that the mystery behind the breakage of the undersea cables deepened with the announcement from Egyptian authorities that no ships were in the area of the first two cables when the damage occurred near the Egyptian port of Alexandria.

Qtel says that its capacity loss was kept below 40% because of a large number of alternate routes for transmission. The repair ship due to set out and make repairs to the third severed cable was kept in port over last weekend due to bad weather, but it was scheduled to leave Monday and repairs are expected to take five days

By netchicken: posted on 6-2-2008

Now there are five cables cut!

Quoting TeleGeography and describing the effect the cuts had on the Internet world, Mahesh Jaishanker, executive director, Business Development and Marketing, du, said, “The submarine cable cuts in FLAG Europe-Asia cable 8.3km away from Alexandria, Egypt and SeaMeWe-4 affected at least 60 million users in India, 12 million in Pakistan, six million in Egypt and 4.7 million in Saudi Arabia.”

A total of five cables being operated by two submarine cable operators have been damaged with a fault in each.

These are
1 SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4) near Penang, Malaysia,
2 FLAG Europe-Asia near Alexandria,
3 FLAG near the Dubai coast,
4 FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran and
5 SeaMeWe-4, also near Alexandria.

The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported. This has not been repaired yet and the cause remains unknown, explained Jaishanker.

A major cut affecting the UAE occurred on January 30 in the SeaMeWe-4 (South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-4). “This was followed by another cut on February 1 which was on the same cable (FALCON). This affected the du network majorly as connections from the Gulf were severed while there was limited connectivity within the region,” said Khaled Tabbara, executive director, Carrier Relations, du.

He explained that the network was re-routed through Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia and was near normal now.

Almost 90 per cent of Internet traffic is routed through undersea cables and only 10 per cent is done through the satellite.

By netchicken: posted on 6-2-2008

Potentially MORE cables cut

... Quote:
By my count, we are probably dealing with as many as eight, maybe even nine, unexplained cut or damaged undersea cables within the last week, and not the mere three or four that most mainstream news media outlets in the United States are presently reporting.

Given all this cable-cutting mayhem in the last several days, who knows but what there may possibly be other cut and/or damaged cables that have not made it into the news cycle, because they are lost in the general cable-cutting noise by this point.

Nevertheless, let me enumerate what I can, and keep in mind, I am not pulling these out of a hat; all of the sources are referenced at the conclusion of the article; you can click through and look at all the evidence that I have. It's there if you care to read through it all.

1) one off of Marseille, France
2) two off of Alexandria, Egypt
3) one off of Dubai, in the Persian Gulf
4) one off of Bandar Abbas, Iran in the Persian Gulf
5) one between Qatar and the UAE, in the Persian Gulf
6) one in the Suez, Egypt
7) one near Penang, Malaysia
8) initially unreported cable cut on 23 January 2008 (Persian Gulf?)

Three things stand out about these incidents:

1) all of them, save one, have occurred in waters near predominantly Muslim nations, causing disruption in those countries;

2) all but two of the cut/damaged cables are in Middle Eastern waters;

3) so many like incidents in such a short period of time suggests that they are not accidents, but are in fact deliberate acts, i.e., sabotage.

By netchicken: posted on 7-2-2008

Undersea cables may have been sabotaged
Now thats a BIG admission....

Damage to several undersea telecom cables that caused outages across the Middle East and Asia could have been an act of sabotage, the International Telecommunication Union said on Monday.
... Quote:
We do not want to preempt the results of ongoing investigations, but we do not rule out that a deliberate act of sabotage caused the damage to the undersea cables over two weeks ago,
the UN agency's head of development, Sami al-Murshed, told AFP.

Five undersea cables were damaged in late January and early February leading to disruption to Internet and telephone services in parts of the Middle East and south Asia.

There has been speculation that the sheer number of cables being cut over such a short period was too much of a coincidence and that sabotage must have been involved.

India's Flag telecom revealed on February 7 that the cut to the Falcon cable between the United Arab Emirates and Oman was caused by a ship's anchor. But mystery shrouds what caused another four reported cuts.

... Quote:
Some experts doubt the prevailing view that the cables were cut by accident, especially as the cables lie at great depths under the sea and are not passed over by ships,
Murshed said on the sidelines of a conference on cyber-crime held in Gulf state of Qatar.

The Falcon cable has since been repaired, along with the Flag Europe Asia (FEA) cable which was damaged off Egypt's Mediterranean coast. The status of the remaining cable is still unclear.

By netchicken: posted on 19-2-2008

The UAE authorities have released one of the two ships allegedly responsible for causing damage to an undersea cable network of Flag Telecom that had resulted in disruption of Internet services across India for two weeks.

The ship was released after a Korean shipping company, which owns it, paid huge compensation to Flag Telecom, a subsidiary of Reliance Globalcom, as damage, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

The two ships -- MV Hounslow and MT Ann -- were impounded on February 19 when they reached Dubai shores for allegedly damaging the cable network in February.

The action was taken after Reliance Globalcom provided details of the ships by studying the satellite images of the ship movements around the area of undersea cable damage off the northern coast of Egypt and the UAE.

Abdul Jaleel Mahdi, Deputy Director of CID of Dubai Police, told the daily that one of the impounded ships, belonging to a Korean shipping company, was released after payment of huge compensation to Flag Telecom.

During police interrogation, an official of the Korean ship admitted that the vessel was passing through the area and agreed to pay USD 60,000 as damages, the report said.

The second ship, which belongs to an Iraqi company, is still in the custody of Dubai Police and the Coast Guards, a police source was quoted as saying by the daily.

The two sailors who were on board the vessel were arrested and would be referred to the Dubai Public Prosecution next week, it said.

By netchicken: posted on 15-4-2008

Five years later and its happening again, undersea cables off Egypt are being deliberately cut, and they may have arrested the saboteurs.

CAIRO, Egypt — Egypt’s naval forces caught three scuba divers officials say were trying to cut an undersea internet cable in the Mediterranean on Wednesday.

In a statement on his official Facebook page, Col. Ahmed Mohammed Ali said divers were arrested while “cutting the undersea cable” of Egypt’s main communications company, Telecom Egypt.

“The armed forces foiled an attempt and arrested three divers while they were cutting a submarine cable,” Ali wrote.

The statement, accompanied by a photo of three young men who were apparently Egyptian, said they were captured while on a speeding fishing boat just off the coast of Alexandria. It did not say who they were or why they would want to cut the cable.

Egypt’s internet had been spotty for days, following damage to an undersea cable last week. But after the arrest of three men who allegedly used diving equipment to cut yet another line off the coast of Alexandria, there is speculation that what was initially billed an accident may have been part of a wider plan to take Egypt offline.

According to Agence France-Presse and local press reports, the men have denied the accusations.

They say they were salvaging shipwrecks. Alexandria’s security director is quoted by the official state news agency as saying they severed the cable by mistake.

Still, with Egypt’s rising level of insecurity, it isn’t entirely out of the question that such high-level sabotage would take place. Masked gunmen have targeted the vehicle of the Egypt’s central bank director. Earlier this month, the Egypt country boss of Exxon-Mobil was kidnapped in the Sinai Peninsula, but quickly released.

Chief technology officer of US-based Renesys Jim Cowie said cutting an internet cable could cause data to become congested, making it redirect the long way around the world.

This isn’t the first incidence of a lost connection due to cut cables. In 2008, serious undersea cable cuts caused internet outages across the Middle East on two separate occasions.


More to come ....

By netchicken: posted on 31-3-2013

So who might be the actors in this new drama? One might thing they would be the same ones as in the past, from 5 years ago.

Here are some interesting insights into the potential participants.
... Quote:
Silencing political dissent

Anyone familiar with Egypt’s explosive post-revolutionary politics could easily point out a number of actors who would be more than ecstatic to cut off the country’s 80 million residents from the outside world.

The most obvious candidate would be the Muslim Brotherhood, which has come under immense criticism from just about every corner of the political spectrum for the failings of the Morsi administration, which it supports.

Morsi’s government has been accused by the secular or liberal opposition on more than one occasion during its short tenure of attempting to silence dissent and media freedoms, including a month-long suspension of YouTube in February 2013 and the cancellation of TV talk shows accused of “insulting the presidency”.

Indeed, at a time of growing political violence, police brutality, and economic problems, there are likely more than a few Brotherhood members who would like to hinder their opposition’s publication of politically-damaging content on the internet. It is also worth mentioning, that if anyone in Egypt knew the location of the country’s fibre optic cables, it would be the now Brotherhood-dominated Communications Ministry.


Outside of Egypt’s borders, there are a number of actors who would enjoy watching Egypt and the region reel from the consequences of an internet blackout – particularly those who have restricted access to their own citizens.

Topping the list are Iran and Syria, who seek to inflict economic damage on Sunni-Arab nations in the region for their increased assistance to the Syrian opposition. In Syria, the Assad regime has been continuously accused of severing fibre optic cables to hamper rebel lines of communication. Such an operation may have been committed in coordination with militants based in the Gaza Strip, who have been increasingly at odds with the Egyptian military over its campaign to destroy smuggling tunnels at the Rafah border. These elements, in addition to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, have been accused multiple times by the Egyptian military of establishing cells throughout the country.


Reports indicate that the divers denied the charges against them, while Egypt’s internet forums are already awash with allegations that the three were performing maintenance work on their vessel when they were apprehended. As such, it is possible that the divers were falsely blamed by the Egyptian military for cutting the cable, which may have simply been cut by shipping traffic, as was the case in other internet hindrances in Egypt, including one which occurred a week before on 22 March.

In the past, the Egyptian government and military have blamed domestic economic and infrastructure failures on foreign elements, in an effort to rally the populace behind a common threat. Whether it be deadly sharks dispatched by Israel’s Mossad to sabotage the Sinai Peninsula’s deteriorating tourism revenues or Australian journalists detained on charges of “destabilising the country,” successive Egyptian governments have always looked to divert blame to outside forces, and it could just be a matter of time until the arrested divers are publically linked to a shadowy foreign power. Even after telecommunications were cut by the government during Egypt’s revolution, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman went on the record and asserted that protesters had been manipulated by “outside forces” and that the uprising was a conspiracy.

With only navy sailors on scene to witness the divers’ arrest, those seeking answers to this unprecedented event may find themselves at the mercy of the Egyptian military’s propaganda branch. But in a nation rife with both conspiracies and conspiracy theories, we may never get the straight answer we are looking for.

By netchicken: posted on 31-3-2013

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