Call the FBI….Call Homeland security… Call the X Files….call ArtBell…
A fourth cable has been cut, this time off the coast of the UAE, disrupting communications in Qatar.

Qatar Telecom (Qtel) said on Sunday a cable was damaged between the Qatari island of Haloul and the UAE island of Das on Friday, the fourth reported in the Middle East in less than a week….

Parts of the Gulf Arab region were plunged into a virtual internet blackout on Wednesday when two undersea cables were cut near Alexandria, on Egypt’s north coast….

The situation was made worse on Friday when Flag, part of India’s Reliance Communications, revealed a third cable, Falcon, had also been damaged off the UAE coast.

In the meanwhile, conspiracy theories abound, since some reports say that along with Egypt, Saudi Arabia and India,  Iran’s internet has been cut…and traffic is down to zero according to this site: LINK is the daily internet traffic report and indeed shows Iran at zero today…but it is also zero for Cali, Colombia and for Florida.

So is it true?

But the English language Iranian news, IRNA, doesn’t have any reports about it…

The IHTribune has noted the internet problems, but doesn’t mention Iran. However, they do worry that the incidents show how underseas cables that concentrate internet and telephone lines are vulnerable to damage, whether it be an errant ship, an earthquake, or sabotage.

Nonsense, replies the jihadi linked Uruknet. Iranian cable isn’t down…

A more reliable report from ArabBusinessNews says:

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.

No one at the US embassy in Abu Dhabi was immediately available to comment.

So is the internet out, or slowed down, or being re routed from Iran? Hello?And the India BusinessStandard reports on various internet conspiracy theories, and quotes one blogger saying that Iran is back on line, but re routed via the UK so their traffic can be monitored. But again they only note local problems, not blackout (and note: The FLAG company whose cables were affected has Indian ties).
Now, technically, the latest cut off the Middle East were not caused by destruction: Slashdot corrects the reports: “… the cable wasn’t cut. It was taken offline due to power issues…”

A little truth would go a long way at stopping conspiracy theories.
Scott Adams at DilbertBlog notes the conspiracy theories, and sardonically notes similarities to one of his satires:

It seems highly coincidental that three undersea cables get cut and the only country entirely shut off is Iran. I doubt it is the first step before war, but you can’t help raising an eyebrow when reality starts to intersect with fiction.

Yet why don’t the news reports mention the Iranian internet blackout? Even Drudge isn’t reporting it…maybe because it isn’t true?
Some background maps:
Flashplayer map of the internet cable systems are here. And this map is from the UK Guardian via Digg:
The best explanation of the cables and the various damaged areas is found on the DailyWireless. Check out their maps and photos…but again, they don’t mention Iran…

The Egyptian cable essentially carries information for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Sudan, but it a major internet link carrying information west from the Middle East, Iran, and India.

India also sends a lot of their information East via Pacific/Asian cables, but their internet is so widely used that there is a disruption from excess traffic on the eastern cables, and there has been a lot of scrambling to reroute internet usage.

But the latest cuts off Qatar only affect branches of the main cable that link the smaller Gulf states with the main internet cables.

Map from ForeignPolicyPassport Blog:

Of course, cable damage isn’t unknown–the Wireless story also reports a cut or damage off the southern Coast of France about the same time as the Egyptian cable was cut. Like most local cable outages, this is a branch, not the main cable, so isn’t getting publicity.

So is Iran on line or off line?

Well, for what it’s worth, someone from Iran visited my blog yesterday so obviously reports of the “100% blackout” of the Iranian internet is not true.
Sorry, conspiracy theorists, another one bites the dust…

Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she crossposted this at Podkayne’s blog.

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