Fourth cable damaged in Middle Eest (Qatar to UAE)

A fourth submarine cable in the middle east was damaged Sunday
between Haloul, Qatar and Das, United Arab Emirates.

This is in addition to the damage affecting FLAG, SAE-ME-WE4, FALCON

Afer reviewing surveillance video of the area, Egypt's ministry of maritime transportation is reporting no ships were near the FLAG or
SAE-ME-WE4 cables 12-hours before or after the cable damage near Alexanderia, Egypt. The reason for outage of the cables has
not been identified yet.

Dear Sean;

Do you know how Syria, Jordan and Lebanon get their connectivity ? They have dropped off the map today for us. (Or maybe yesterday - I wasn't able to pay any attention to this yesterday.)

Our Egyptian audience remains very low, while Iran still seems to be unaffected.


Sean, do you have any URLs with additional info on the new cut? Questions
are being asked.

DOHA (AFP) . An undersea telecoms cable linking Qatar to the United Arab Emirates was damaged, disrupting services, telecommunications provider Qtel said on Sunday, the latest such incident in less than a week.

The cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, Qtel's head of communications Adel al Mutawa told AFP.

So is this cause for concern or just "business as usual" with respect to the
daily operations of USFO cables? Seems somewhat out of place to have four
within five days but then it might be only slightly abnormal and amplified
by the media paying more attention.


there has has been a lot of speculation that this is all some US
prelude to war with iran. while i don't claim to know much about
whether that makes any sense, i do know that if they're trying to
disconnect iran from the internet, they're doing a lousy job:

we (renesys) have been tracking (at layer 3) this set of outages (see
the previous 3 postings at:

for a view of this from a routing perspective among out peer set) and
iran is not even one of the 10 most affacted countries. it certainly
all seems suspcious and worrisome, but it does not seem that iran is
the target of a competent campaign to disrupt its telecommunications
(slashdot paranoia notwithstanding).

i'll be interested to hear more about what is found about the physical
layer causes.


Caution: upon further research it appears there may be some language
misscommunication in some of the reports; and some of the outages may
be multiple reports of the same incidents.
   Confirming international media reports, an Etisalat official yesterday
   told Khaleej Times that the cable network was not completely severed,
   though the damage slowed down the already affected system. He did not
   give any further details regarding the cause of damage.
   This is the third incident of its kind in the area since January 30
   since the cables were first damaged in the Mediterranean and then off
   the coast of Dubai, causing widespread disruption to Internet and
   international telephone services in Egypt, Gulf Arab states and south

FLAG restoration update information:

An extremely poor job if that was the intent. According to SLAC, throughput to Iran actually improved.

If the intent was to cut off Iran, they're picking the wrong cables.

TAE goes across the northern part of Iran

FLAG via UAE, SE-ME-WE-3 (not 4), ITOUR and KAFOS

Sometimes concicidences are concidences.


I don't see any cables for Lebanon. I also don't see any cable for
Syria. I see "Falcon" coming down an estuary on an edge border for
Jordan. In proximity, Israel has some redundancy, although I don't
have the granularity to strip out the specific cables. It looks like a
"branch" to me, a splice point in a cable that happens under the
water, which allows for multi-directional paths from a single cable.

I would think that route-views would have any of what you may need to
track down what's going on advertisement wise, and for free.



anyone with a source of unadulterated information from an operational point of view about this cuts. A search on the Net is springing up a lot of speculative whodunits.
Reason is, how will the affected regions get round this issue before the repairs are done. First thought would be to set up satellite links, not as good but better than nothing.


Sean Donelan wrote:

Where are you seeing that? I can only see access to Iran through the
Gulf of Oman and Caspian Sea. The Caspian Sea doesn't appear to have
any cables.

The only service to Iran that seems logical, or that I can "see", is
via Kuwait City and across the Gulf. Nothing appears to go through the
Straight of Hormuz without touchdown in Oman or the UAE. I would hope
that there is significant terrestrial cooperation in the region all
considered, but I don't know anything about Med terrestrial networks.

I agree with Rod Beck as far as the speculations go. It could be
terror, but it's just not that interesting and is not really a
soft-target. I caught some posts about beach heads, et. al. There are
some vulnerabilities related to shared landing stations, but I think
that places like Telehouse North are far more vulnerable and "sexy" as
a target.

Should be interesting to read the RFO's if and when they become public.



Well, no, it couldn't be. Nobody is being terrorized by this. How
can it possibly be a terrorist incident?

If it's deliberate, it might be described as an "information warfare
tactic." But not terrorism.

(visions of some guy sitting a in cave with a pair of wet boltcutters
laughing maniacally to himself, cackling, "Ha-ha! Now their daytraders
will get upset, and teenagers will get their porn _slower_! Die
American scum!" Doesn't really work, does it?)

Politicians have succeeded in watering down the definition of the word
"terrorism" to the point where it no longer has any meaning. But we're
rational adults, not politicians, right? If we can't get it right,
who will?

   - mark

I disagree… I think “information warfare tactic” could easily be terrorism, though I can’t see why this particular event could/would be terrorism.

Disrupting a major network like the Internet WITHIN the US could definitely be a form of terrorism… I think anything which maliciously disrupts a huge portions of a nation’s day-to-day activities would be cause for concern for many folk, especially the telecommunications infrastructure. However, I’m not sure what the mindset of the terrorist would be even if they fully succeeded what is proposed would be the terrorist’s plan - even if we lost totally connectivity with the middle east, or even what’s considered “friendly” countries… as long as the information is flowing at home, nobody’s going to be filling their swimming pools full of drinking water.

I imagine the mindset would be different if you were a small country loosing a substantial portion of it’s communication channels with the outside world…


This conversation is quickly spinning into discussion of politics and

Reminder to all, please stick to the *operational* aspects of this thread.

-alex [NANOG MLC Chair]

In all the fuss about terrorism, people may be forgetting that the terrorists have goals *other* than terrorism, and one of those is reducing the influence of the West over the Middle East. Removing internet connections certainly is an effective (and probably necessary) step in that direction. Even if this was accidental, it will have made them more aware of the possibility.

Which leads me to my operational question.

If you know that someone wants to cut your cables. What defense do you have? Is there any practical way to monitor and protect an oceanic cable? Are there ways to build them that would make them less discoverable? Some way to provide redundancy? A non-physical solution involving underwater repeaters? Or is this like pipelines in Iraq?

While reading the hacker tourist article someone posted from Wired many years ago, it mentioned that as the FO cable comes closer to shore, more extreme measures are taken to protect it, including fluidizing the sand underneath the cable to cause the cable to sink under, and then stopping the fluidizing process so the sand compacts above it. I’m unsure how practical this would be along a substantial link of cable though. (Although, burying the cable under compact sand seems like it would protect it from a whole host of dangers).


I have not looked at a map. My guess is that most of these cables are linear - point-to-point.

Obviously a more robust architecture is a ring. All TransAtlantic cables are rings, but can you justify the economic cost of a ring architecture to serve relatively small countries? Hmm …

Despite the needless worrying about terrorism, the single most important factor is how well a cable is buried.

Deeper is better and more expensive.

To bury a cable, you dig a deep trench, drop the cable in it, and let Nature cover it. Nature is very good at doing so …

Roderick S. Beck
Director of European Sales
Hibernia Atlantic
1, Passage du Chantier, 75012 Paris

The US Navy will deploy their killer ninja dolphins to bottlenose any
wrong doers :@)

Kee Hinckley
is probably as authoritative a source as one can find for what
happened. It says there were two cuts in the Mediterranean (SEA-ME-WE 4
near Marseille) and Flag Telecom's Europe-Asia cable near Alexandria.
The Flag Telecom Falcon cable was cut between UAE and Oman, and the
Qatar-UAE cable failed due to a power issue.

    --Steve Bellovin,

I have spent a few hours on a cable repair ship in the Med. Fascinating - highly recommended. This ship was sent to repair multiple spots of a cable that was cut about 1km from the shore. There was a gas pipeline that was laid across it and they built special concrete bridges in the water that were laid on top the fiber cable so that the fiber cable would be in the tunnel under the mini-bridge and the pipeline was laid on top. Worked well for the first few months. But the weight kept bearing down and the concrete bridge sunk deeper and deeper into the sand - and eventually the bridge tunnel acted as a guillotine and severed the underlying fiber.

So much for the best laid plans of fish and men.