Iranian 'Spy Ship' In Spotlight After Undersea Data Cables Linking Continents Severed

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Mar 06, 2024 - 02:20 AM

In a statement on Monday, Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications revealed that four undersea communications cables in the Red Sea were severed, impacting about a quarter of the data transmission between Asia and Europe. The incident occurred one week ago, with the full extent of the damage only now coming to light. 

The cut data cables include Asia-Africa-Europe 1, the Europe India Gateway, Seacom and TGN-Gulf, HGC Global said, adding this is "estimated impact 25% of traffic - around 15% of Asia traffic goes west-bound, while 80% of those traffic will pass through these submarine cables in the Red Sea." 

HGC said it had taken measures to "successfully devised a comprehensive diversity plan to reroute affected traffic." 

What severed the undersea cables remains unclear - and there are mounting concerns that Iran-backed Houthis were part of the attack. But in recent days, the rebels have denied attacking the lines.  

AP News quoted a US government official who said an investigation is underway to determine the cause of the cable cuts. The official said the investigation will decide whether it was an intentional act or an accident involving an anchor. 

However, some believe the Houthis are not the most capable group in the region to conduct such an attack; in fact, it might be Iran.

"Cutting off critical lines communications and driving up the costs of everything from internet to oil across the Middle East is a clearly articulated economic warfare goal of the IRGC Qods Force. Iran seeks to undermine global access to the region as part of its cost-imposition strategy," said David Asher, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute

Asher said: "The Qods Force is operating a spy ship called the Behsad that is reportedly in the Gulf of Aden, not far from where the undersea cables were cut. This ship highly likely carries a Qods Force special underwater warfare force component more than capable of carrying out an undersea cable attack." 

Bloomberg data shows that the Behshad, an Iranian vessel in the Red Sea, was in the region around the time the incident occurred last week. 

He pointed out: "The world should expect to see an uptick in Iranian covert direct action operations alongside proxy warfare with the Houthis and Hezbollah activities in the coming months."

The IRGC's goal to covertly spark chaos in the Middle East has boosted crude prices and allowed Tehran to collect $90 billion in illicit oil sales under the Biden administration. 

"Iran has managed to sell $90 billion worth of U.S.-sanctioned oil, setting new export records in the process," according to the latest figures published by United Against a Nuclear Iran.

UANI continued:

"The administration has not published a correspondingly detailed report with respect to Iranian oil exports—despite the equally vital role oil sales play in funding Iran's malign activities: sponsorship of terrorism, development of WMDs, and domestic repression. There is a conspicuous absence of robust pronouncements and clear-eyed reasoning with respect to Tehran and its oil." 

With the matrix of attacks from commercial shipping vessels disrupting global trade to now cut undersea cables disrupting data transmission between continents, the Red Sea crisis is only accelerating, and investors are ignoring all risks.