by Richard Sauder
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
4 February 2008
The last week has seen a spate of unexplained, cut, undersea communications cables that has severely disrupted communications in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. As I shall show, the total numbers of cut cables remain in question, but likely number as many as eight, and maybe nine or more.
The trouble began on 30 January 2008 with CNN reports that two cables were cut off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, initially severely disrupting Internet and telephone traffic from Egypt to India and many points in between. According to CNN the two cut cables “account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East.“ CNN reported that the two cut cables off the Egyptian coast were “FLAG Telecom's FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies”.(10) Other reports placed one of the cut cables, SeaMeWe-4, off the coast of France, near Marseille.(9)(12) However, many news organizations reported two cables cut off the Egyptian coast, including the SeaMeWe-4 cable connecting Europe with the Middle East. The possibilities are thus three, based on the reporting in the news media: 1) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the coast of France, and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of Egypt, because it runs from France to Egypt; 2) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the Egyptian coast and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of France, because it runs from France to Egypt; or 3) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut both off the Egyptian and the French coasts, nearly simultaneously, leading to confusion in the reporting. I am not sure what to think, because most reports, such as this one from the International Herald Tribune, refer to two cut cables off the Egyptian coast, one of the two being the SeaMeWe4 cable,(11) while other reports also refer to a cut cable off the coast of France.(9)(12) It thus appears that the same cable may have suffered two cuts, both off the French and the Egyptian coasts. So there were likely actually three undersea cables cut in the Mediterranean on 30 January 2008.
In the case of the cables cut off the Egyptian coast, the news media initially advanced the explanation that the cables had been cut by ships' anchors.(10)(13) But on 3 February the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that a review of video footage of the coastal waters where the two cables passed revealed that the area had been devoid of ship traffic for the 12 hours preceding and the 12 hours following the time of the cable cuts.(5)(11) So the cable cuts cannot have been caused by ship anchors, in view of the fact that there were no ships there.
The cable cutting was just getting started. Two days later an undersea cable was reported cut in the Persian Gulf, 55 kilometers off of Dubai.(11) The cable off of Dubai was reported by CNN to be a FLAG Falcon cable.(10) And then on 3 February came reports of yet another damaged undersea cable, this time between Qatar and the UAE (United Arab Emirates).(6)(7)(11)
The confusion was compounded by another report on 1 February 2008 of a cut undersea cable running through the Suez to Sri Lanka.(19) If the report is accurate this would represent a sixth cut cable. The same article mentions the cut cable off of Dubai in the Persian Gulf, but seeing as the Suez is on the other side of the Arabian peninsula from the Persian Gulf, the article logically appears to be describing two separate cable cutting incidents.
These reports were followed on 4 February 2008 with a report of even more cut undersea cables. The Khaleej Times reported a total of five damaged undersea cables: two off of Egypt and the cable near Dubai, all of which have already been mentioned in this report. But then the Khaleej Times mentions two that have not been mentioned elsewhere, to my knowledge: 1) a cable in the Persian Gulf near Bandar Abbas, Iran, and 2) the SeaMeWe4 undersea cable near Penang, Malaysia.(3) The one near Penang, Malaysia appears to represent a new incident. The one near Bandar Abbas is reported separately from the one off Dubai and is evidently not the same incident, since the report says , “FLAG near the Dubai coast” and “FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran” were both cut. Bandar Abbas is on the other side of the Persian Gulf from Qatar and the UAE, and so presumably the cut cable near Bandar Abbas is not the one in that incident either. Interestingly, the report also states that, “The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported.(3) This news article deals primarily with the outage in the UAE, so it raises the question as to whether this is a reference to yet a ninth cut cable that has not hit the mainstream news cycle in the United States.
By my count, we are probably dealing with as many as eight, maybe even nine, unexplained cut or damaged undersea cables within the last week, and not the mere three or four that most mainstream news media outlets in the United States are presently reporting. Given all this cable-cutting mayhem in the last several days, who knows but what there may possibly be other cut and/or damaged cables that have not made it into the news cycle, because they are lost in the general cable-cutting noise by this point. Nevertheless, let me enumerate what I can, and keep in mind, I am not pulling these out of a hat; all of the sources are referenced at the conclusion of the article; you can click through and look at all the evidence that I have. It's there if you care to read through it all.
1) one off of Marseille, France
2) two off of Alexandria, Egypt
3) one off of Dubai, in the Persian Gulf
4) one off of Bandar Abbas, Iran in the Persian Gulf
5) one between Qatar and the UAE, in the Persian Gulf
6) one in the Suez, Egypt
7) one near Penang, Malaysia
8) initially unreported cable cut on 23 January 2008 (Persian Gulf?)
Three things stand out about these incidents:
1) all of them, save one, have occurred in waters near predominantly Muslim nations, causing disruption in those countries;
2) all but two of the cut/damaged cables are in Middle Eastern waters;
3) so many like incidents in such a short period of time suggests that they are not accidents, but are in fact deliberate acts, i.e., sabotage.
The evidence therefore suggests that we are looking at a coordinated program of undersea cable sabotage by an actor, or actors, on the international stage with an anti-Muslim bias, as well as a proclivity for destructive violence in the Middle Eastern region.
The question then becomes: are there any actors on the international stage who exhibit a strong, anti-Muslim bias in their foreign relations, who have the technical capability to carry out clandestine sabotage operations on the sea floor, and who have exhibited a pattern of violently destructive policies towards Muslim peoples and nations, especially in the Middle East region?
The answer is yes, there are two: Israel and the United States of America.
In recent years, Israel has bombed and invaded Lebanon, bombed Syria, and placed the Palestinian Territories under a pitiless and ruthless blockade/occupation/quarantine/assault. During the same time frame the United States of America has militarily invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, and American forces remain in both countries at present, continuing to carry out aggressive military operations. Simultaneous with these Israeli and American war crimes against countries in the region, both Israel and the United States have made many thinly veiled threats of war against Iran, and the United States openly seeks to increase its military presence in Pakistan's so-called “tribal areas”.(15) Israel and the United States both have a technically sophisticated military operations capability. Moreover, the United States Navy has a documented history of carrying out espionage activities on the sea floor. The U.S. Navy has long had special operations teams that can go out on submarines and deploy undersea, on the seabed itself, specifically for this sort of operation. This has all been thoroughly documented in the excellent book, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew (New York: Public Affairs, 1998). The classic example is Operation Ivy Bells, which took place during the Cold War, in the waters off the Soviet Union. In a joint, U.S. Navy-NSA operation, U.S. Navy divers repeatedly tapped an underwater cable in the Kuril Islands, by swimming out undersea, to and from U.S. Navy submarines.(14)
This sort of activity is like something straight out of a spy novel thriller, but the U.S. Navy really does have special submarines and deep diving, special operations personnel who specialize in precisely this sort of operation. So cutting undersea cables is well within the operational capabilities of the United States Navy.
Couple this little known, but very important fact, with the reality that for years now we have seen more and more ham-handed interference with the global communications grid by the American alphabet soup agencies (NSA, CIA, FBI, HoSec) and major telecommunication companies. Would the telecommunication companies and the American military and alphabet soup agencies collude on an operation that had as its aim to sabotage the communications network across a wide region of the planet? Would they perhaps collude with Israeli military and intelligence agencies to do this? The honest answer has to be: sure, maybe so. The hard reality is that we are now living in a world of irrational and violent policies enacted against the civilian population by multinational corporations, and military and espionage agencies the world over. We see the evidence for this on every hand. Only the most myopic among us remain oblivious to that reality.
In light of the American Navy's demonstrated sea-floor capabilities and espionage activities, the heavy American Navy presence in the region, the many, thinly veiled threats against Iran by both the Americans and the Israelis, and their repeated, illegal, military aggression against other nations in the region, suspicion quite naturally falls on both Israel and the United States of America. It may be that this is what the beginning of a war against Iran looks like, or perhaps it is part of a more general, larger assault against Muslim and/or Arab interests across a very wide region. Whatever the case, this is no small operation, seeing as the cables that have been cut are among the largest communication pipes in the region, and clearly represent major strategic targets.
Very clearly, we are not looking at business as usual. On the contrary, it is obvious that we are looking at distinctly unusual business.
The explanations being put forth in the mainstream news media for these many cut, undersea communications cables absolutely do not pass the smell test. And by the way, the same operators who cut undersea cables in the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, Malaysia and possibly the Suez as well, presumably can also cut underwater cables in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. This could be a multipurpose operation, in part a test run for isolating a country or region from the international communications grid. The Middle East today, the USA tomorrow?
What's that you say? I don't understand how the world works? That kind of thing can't happen here?
In any event, if the cables have been intentionally cut, then that is an aggressive act of war. I'm sure everyone in the region has gotten that message. I'm looking at the same telegram as they are, and I know that it's clear as a “bell” to me.(14)
It is little known by the American people, but nevertheless true, that Iran intends to open its own Oil Bourse this month (February 2008) that will trade in “non-dollar currencies”.(16) This has massive geo-political-economic implications for the United States and the American economy, since the American dollar is at present still (if not for much longer) the dominant reserve currency internationally, particularly for petroleum transactions. However, due to the mind-boggling scale of the structural weaknesses in the American economy, which have been well discussed in the financial press in recent weeks and months, the American dollar is increasingly shunned by corporate, banking and governmental actors the world over. No one wants to be stuck with vaults full of rapidly depreciating dollars as the American economy hurtles towards the basement. And so an operational Iranian Oil Bourse, actively trading supertankers full of petroleum in non-dollar currencies, poses a great threat to the American dollar's continued dominance as the international reserve currency.
The American fear and unease of this development can only be increased by the knowledge that, “Oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have set 2010 as the target date for adopting a monetary union and single currency.”(2) The American government's fear must have ratcheted up another notch when Kuwait “dropped its dollar peg” in May “and adopted a basket of currencies”, arousing “speculation that the UAE and Qatar would follow suit or revalue their currencies.”(2) Although all the GCC members, with the exception of Kuwait, agreed at their annual meeting in December 2007 to continue to peg their currencies to the American dollar,(2) the hand writing is surely on the wall. As the dollar plummets, their American currency holdings will be worth less and less. At some point, they will likely decide to cut their losses and decouple the value of their currencies from that of the dollar. That point may be in 2010, when they establish the new GCC currency, maybe even sooner than that. If Iran succeeds in opening its own Oil Bourse it is hard to imagine that the GCC would not trade on the Iranian Oil Bourse, given the extremely close geographic proximity. And it is hard to believe that they would not trade their own oil in their own currency. Otherwise, why have a currency of their own? Clearly they intend to use it. And just as clearly, the three cut or damaged undersea communications cables in the Persian Gulf over the last week deliver a clear message. The United States may be a senescent dinosaur, and it is, but it is also a violent, heavily armed, very angry senescent dinosaur. In the end, it will do what all aged dinosaurs do: perish. But not before it first does a great deal of wild roaring and violent lashing and thrashing about.
There can be no doubt that Iran, and the other Gulf States, were intended recipients of this rather pointed cable cutting telegram, for all of the reasons mentioned here; and additionally, in the case of Iran, probably also as a waning for its perceived insults of Israel and dogged pursuit of its nuclear program in contravention of NeoCon-Zionist dogma that Iran may not have a nuclear program, though other nations in the region, Pakistan and Israel, do.
I must mention that one of my e-mail correspondents has pointed out that another possibility is that once the cables are cut, special operations divers could hypothetically come in and attach surveillance devices to the cables without being detected, because the cables are inoperable until they are repaired and start functioning again. In this way, other interests who wanted to spy on Middle Eastern communications, let's say on banking and trading data going to and from the Iranian Oil Bourse, or other nations in the Middle East, could tap into the communications network under cover of an unexplained cable “break”. Who knows? -- this idea may have merit.
It is noteworthy that two of the cables that were cut lie off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, and another passes through the Suez. During the height of the disruption, some 70 percent of the Egyptian Internet was down. (13) This is a heavy blow in a day when everything from airlines, to banks, to universities, to newspapers, to hospitals, to telephone and shipping companies, and much more, uses the Internet. So Egypt was hit very hard. An astute observer who carefully reads the international press could not fail to notice that in recent days there has been a report in the Egyptian press that “Egypt rejected an Israeli-American proposal to resettle 800,000 Palestinians in Sinai.” This has evidently greatly upset the Zionist-NeoCon power block holding sway in Tel Aviv and Washington, DC with the result that Israel has reportedly threatened to have American aid to Egypt reduced if Egypt does not consent to the resettlement of the Palestinians in Egyptian territory.(17) This NeoCon-Zionist tantrum comes hard on the heels of the Israeli desire to cut ties with Gaza, as a consequence of the massive breach of the Gaza-Egypt border by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in January 2008. (18)
What are NeoCon-Zionist tyrants to do when their diplomatic hissy fits and anti-Arab tirades no longer carry the day in Cairo? Or in Qatar and the UAE? Maybe they get out the underwater cable cutters and deploy some special operations submarines and divers in the waters off of Alexandria and in the Suez and in the Persian Gulf.
This would be completely in line with articulated American military doctrine, which frankly views the Internet as something to be fought. American Freedom Of Information researchers at George Washington University obtained a Department of Defense (Pentagon) document in 2006, entitled “Information Operation Roadmap”, which says forthrightly and explicitly that “the Department must be prepared to 'fight the net'”.(20) This is a direct quote. It goes on to say that, “We Must Improve Network and Electro-Magnetic Attack Capability. To prevail in an information-centric fight, it is increasingly important that our forces dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with attack capabilities.“ (20) It also makes reference to the importance of employing a “robust offensive suite of capabilities to include full-range electronic and computer network attack.”(8)(20)
So now we can add to our list of data points the professed intent of the American military to “fight the net”, using a “robust offensive suite of capabilities” in a “ full-range electronic and computer network attack.”
Maybe this sudden spate of cut communications cables is what it looks like when the American military uses a “robust offensive suite of capabilities” and mounts an “electronic and computer network attack” in order to “fight the net” in one region of the world. They have the means, and the opportunity, I've amply demonstrated that in this article. And now we also have the motive, in their own words, from their own policy statement. The plain translation is that the American military now regards the Internet, that means the hardware such as computers, cables, modems, servers and routers, and presumably also the content it contains, and the people who communicate that content, as an adversary, as something to be fought.
Oh yes, just a couple of more dots to connect before you fall asleep tonight:
1) The USS San Jacinto, an anti-missile AEGIS cruiser, was scheduled to dock in Haifa, Israel on 1 February 2008. The Jerusalem Post reported that this ship's anti-missile system “could be deployed in the region in the event of an Iranian missile attack against Israel.”(1) Are we to expect another “false flag” attack, like the inside job on 9-11 perhaps? -- an attack that will be made to appear that it comes from Iran, and that is then used as a pretext to strike Iran, maybe with nuclear weapons? And when Iran retaliates with its own missiles, then the Americans and Israelis will unleash further hell on Iran? Is that the Zionist-NeoCon plan, or something generally along those lines?
2) I have to wonder because just this past Saturday, there was a report in the news that, “Retired senior officers told Israelis ... to prepare 'rocket rooms' as protection against a rain of missiles expected to be fired at the Jewish State in any future conflict.” Retired General Udi Shani reportedly said, “The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory."(4)
Now that we know the Israeli military establishment's thinking, and now that we have a view into the American military mindset, we ought to be looking at international events across the board with a very critical, analytical eye, especially as they relate to possible events that either are playing out right now, or may potentially play out in the relatively near future, say in the time frame of the next one month to five years. These people are violent and devious; they have forewarned us, and we should take them at their word, given their murderous record on the international stage.
Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org