On January 23, two major undersea internet cables were cutoff the Egyptian port of Alexandria, and it was widelythought to be an accident involving a ship leaving the port.Then a cable was cut in the Persian Gulf. It was severed intwo places, off Dubai and off the Iranian port of BandarAbbas. The effect of these cuts was to slow the internetdown across the region, and to virtually curtail internetactivity in Iran. Now two more cables have been cut, andauthorities are declining to speculate about the reason.

Cables near Penang, Malaysia and another cable off the portof Alexandria have also been cut. While some traffic isbeing re-routed, the overall effect of the cuts has been toslow down or terminate service in more than a dozencountries. 60 million internet users in India have beenaffected, 12 million in Pakistan, and an unknown number inIran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Dubai and the UnitedArab Emirates.

Because of the complexity of repairing the cables, they arenot expected to be working again soon, although two repairships have arrived off Alexandria. In the meantime,millions of people across this entire region of the worldare affected by slow internet access, no internet access,slow or no telephone service and corporate data and videotraffic.

Because of the US’s stated objective of isolating areastargeted for military action from communications, there hasbeen concern that the damage is a precursor to some sortof military strike against Iran.

At present, the International Cable Protection Committeewill not speculate on the cause of the cable damage.

For an excellent analysis of the prospects for nuclear warin the mideastclickhere.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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