Houthi Rebels’ Targeted Attacks on Israel and US Cause Internet Collapse in War-Torn Yemen

Houthi Rebels’ Targeted Attacks on Israel and US Cause Internet Collapse in War-Torn Yemen

Internet access in Yemen has suddenly collapsed, leaving the war-torn nation without an explanation. The outage, which began in the early hours of Friday, affected YemenNet, the country’s primary internet provider for approximately 10 million users, now controlled by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Internet monitoring groups, NetBlocks and CloudFlare, reported the outage, but neither could determine the cause. CloudFlare stated that the issue had impacted connectivity at a national level. The Houthi rebels and Yemen telecommunication officials did not immediately acknowledge the outage.

A similar outage occurred in January 2022 when a telecommunications building in the Red City port city of Hodeida was bombed by the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthis. However, there is no confirmation of a similar attack this time. Internet connectivity in Yemen is supported by the undersea FALCON cable, which enters the country through the Hodeida port along the Red Sea. The cable also has a landing in the eastern port of Ghaydah, but the majority of Yemen’s population resides in the west along the Red Sea. GCX, the company operating the cable, has not provided any comments regarding the outage.

The internet blackout follows a series of drone and missile attacks carried out by the Houthis, targeting Israel amid their ongoing airstrikes and ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Houthis claim to have struck the Israeli port city of Eilat on the Red Sea. Additionally, they recently shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone using a surface-to-air missile, signaling an escalation of attacks in the Middle East and raising concerns about the potential for a regional war.

Yemen has been embroiled in conflict since 2014, when the Houthis seized control of the capital, Sanaa, and other parts of the country’s north. The internationally recognized government fled to the south and later sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-led coalition intervened months later, turning the conflict into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The United States has been involved in the conflict, initially providing intelligence assistance to Saudi Arabia but later reducing its support due to international criticism of civilian casualties caused by Saudi airstrikes. However, the US is suspected of carrying out drone strikes against members of Yemen’s local al-Qaida branch.

The war in Yemen has resulted in the deaths of over 150,000 individuals, including both fighters and civilians, and has led to one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises, claiming the lives of tens of thousands more. Although a cease-fire that expired in October 2021 has largely held, the Houthis are gradually increasing their attacks as a permanent peace agreement has yet to be reached.