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Houthis may target Red Sea’s global internet cables - research institute

File photo - Houthi military helicopter flies over the Galaxy Leader cargo ship in the Red Sea in this photo released November 20, 2023. (Photo: Houthi Military Media/Handout via REUTERS)

U.S.-based research institute, Gulf International Forum, recently warned that the Iranian-backed Houthi militia in Yemen could potentially attack submarine communications cables in the Red Sea. According to their report, should the Houthis succeed, they could seriously disrupt global internet communication related to financial data and thereby threaten the global economy.

In their report, ‘The Next Casualty of the Red Sea Attacks: Undersea Cables’, the Washington-based institute noted that these vital cables are located close to Yemen and, therefore, are potentially within the Houthi's reach.

Following the brutal Hamas terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, the Iranian-supported Houthis began attacking international shipping vessels in the Red Sea, under the pretext of showing their support for the Hamas terror organization in Gaz.

The Houthis have, so far, not declared any intent to attack the vital communications cables. However, in a recent post on the Houthi-affiliated Telegram channel, the terror militia noted the importance of the cables and their proximity to Yemen.

“There are maps of international cables connecting all regions of the world through the sea. It seems that Yemen is in a strategic location, as internet lines that connect entire continents – not only countries – pass near it,” the message stated.

Due to the Red Sea’s strategic location adjacent to Europe, Asia and Africa, the submarine cables constitute a critical component in the global digital communications infrastructure. A whopping 95% of international communication data reportedly passes through these cables. This includes daily transactions worth some $10 trillion.

The U.S. report warned that Persian Gulf states, in particular, would be vulnerable to any disruptions of critical data. The Gulf International Forum further assessed that the “cables have been kept safe more due to the Houthis’ relative technological underdevelopment than for a lack of motivation.”

However, the Houthi's offensive capabilities continue to expand due to the growing support of senior Iranian and Hezbollah leaders, which has already been evidenced by the increasingly bold Houthi attacks on international vessels and confrontations with U.S.-led forces in the region.

An unnamed Iranian source recently told Reuters that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah operatives have been assisting the Houthis on the ground in Yemen.

“The Revolutionary Guards have been helping the Houthis with military training (on advanced weapons),” the source confirmed. “A group of Houthi fighters were in Iran last month and were trained in an IRGC base in central Iran to get familiar with the new technology and the use of missiles,” the source added.

The U.S. report further assessed that “the Houthis have maintained the capability to harass surface shipping through missiles and fast-attack craft but lack the submersibles necessary to reach the cables”.

On the other hand, the Houthis reportedly have submarine capabilities for mine deployment, which could potentially be the first step towards developing offensive means to attack and disrupt global communications cables.

While the Houthis have grabbed considerable attention in international headlines, a Middle East source reaffirmed the critical role that the Iranian regime plays, along with the Hezbollah terror militia in Lebanon.

“The political decision is in Tehran, the management is Hezbollah, and the location is the Houthis in Yemen,” the source stated.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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