Cyberpunk Review » Is there a cable-cutting conspiracy in the Middle East?

February 7, 2008

Is there a cable-cutting conspiracy in the Middle East?

Various reports between 23-Jan-08 and 04-Feb-08 have the nets buzzing with conspiracy theories. Over that period, there have been five underwater cables cut or damaged. Here are some of the details:

23-Jan-08: A FALCON cable near Bandar Abbas in Iran was cut. There were no initial reports of the damage at the time; I found out about it from Wikipedia of all places!

30-Jan: Two cables, SEA-ME-WE 4 and FLAG Telecom, are cut in separate incidents near Alexandria, Egypt and Marseilles, France. Wide net disruption in the Middle East and India reported. New York Times report.

01-Feb: The FACLON cable suffers a second cutting, this time 56 km from Dubai.

03-Feb: Qtel reported that a cable called DOHA-HALOUL connecting Qatar to the United Arab Emirates had been damaged.

04-Feb: SEA-ME-WE-4 suffers a second cut near Malaysia.

The casualty count so far is five cuts in four cables in six days.

Additional information can be found at Khaleej Times Online.


Mermaids with scissors? Cables, even underwater ones, are bound to fail sooner or later. But the rate of failures and who is being affected has some calling conspiracy. Here’s what is being claimed so far:

Anchors away… the wrong way. The two simultaneous cable cuts were first attributed to ship’s anchors. Egypt, however, reportedly has evidence to the contrary: report:

Egypt’s Transport Ministry said footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables shows no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

“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,” a statement by the Communications Ministry said.

“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.”

One conspiracy disproved…

Mother nature on PMS. It’s possible storms in the area(s) may have generated underwater currents strong enough to snap the cables. Some people believe that sharks may be chewing on the lines, being confused by electromagnetic fields around the cables.

Probable, but I have doubts…

Information warfare. Perhaps the most likely answer may be Iran.
From Arabian

The location of the breaks and short space of time in which they have happened has sparked fears the cables were intentionally damaged by the US and Israel to deprive Iran of internet access.

“Clearly Iran, who was most affected, would gain nothing from such an action and is perhaps the target of those responsible,” said another reader.

It is not clear how badly Iran’s internet access has been affected by the cable breaks.

The Iranian embassy in Abu Dhabi told that “everything is fine”, but internet connectivity reports on the web, citing a router in Tehran, appear to indicate that there is currently no connection to the outside world.

Unfortunately, India is America’s outsourced call center and was affected as well. Cutting the cables would have a negative effect on companies, and the government does not want to make their corporate masters angry.

There are also theories that certain agencies cut the cables to stop file sharing, and a YouTube video proclaiming this as a Neo-Con pretext to more Mid-East wars to make up for Duh’bya’s failures in Iraq.


The TRUTH is out there. Maybe. It’s going to take a couple of weeks before the cables are repaired and service is fully restored. Maybe the truth of how and why the cables were cut will be found out. Until then, the conspiracies are going to fly.

This post has been filed under Internet Find, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.


February 7, 2008

Knara said:

The latest cable cut in Iran is apparently a misstatement of the actual problem, and not really a cable cut to Iran, see

GE said:

I think Occam’s Razor applies here

Kovax said:

“A communications disruption can mean only one thing: Invasion”

PeterAmthor said:

Well until pictures of the actual cuts are seen there won’t be a whole lot to back up any conspiracy theories. If the repair workers see something that looks intentional then some of them are bound to scream about it.

Klaw said:

I would think any line being cut would be suspicious, but 5 ? As the line goes in Lost Highway, “There’s no such thing as a bad coincidence.”

I still think it’s godzilla though.

Mr. Roboto said:

Flag Telecom has apparently found an abandoned anchor on the Dubai (UAE) to Al SEEB (Oman) segment.

One down…

caprison said:

Mermaids with scissors? nice.. hehe.

Any theories on Iranian government doing this? They have liked to play the victim in the past and their record on freedom of speech and rights to information hasn’t been the best.

Interesting stuff..

February 8, 2008

Klaw said:

Considering the cable lines partially go TO Iran… would be somewhat retarded. If they got caught the student population (one of the youngest and most literate populations in the Middle East) would topple the government. Probably not a good strategy. An article in the Wall Street Journal has a few other thoughts from a telephony blogger dude… seems like the “reports” and rumors are getting a bit out of hand and aren’t all true.

Meme_Warrior said:

Fiber optic cables don’t even emit EMFs. Sharks chewing on the cables has got to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of! I don’t know where you picked up that particular bit of disinfo, but whoever said it is a retard or trying, quite unsuccessfully I might add, to generate some plausible deniability for whoever is responsible. Come on, five cables cut in different areas in six days… if this is a coincidence then I’m the god damn queen of France.

February 11, 2008

TG the JF said:

What a coincidence… the Damn Queen of France on CPR.

Anyhow, cutting off the Middle-East from the intertubes wouldn’t be such a bad thing to do, considering the mess the muslims make. Wouldn’t amaze me if it were their own idea, though.

February 14, 2008

Meme_Warrior said:

What a coincidence… wingnuts on CPR.

Stormtrooper of Death said:

Does France has a queen ?

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