Internet In Yemen Returns After Four Day Outage Caused by Saudi Air Strikes On Telco Facility
And nearly a hundred are killed in a simultaneous attack on a prison
By Sebastian Moss, Data Center Dynamics
January 26, 2022
Internet services in Yemen are slowly returning after a four-day outage.
The country was brought offline after a Saudi-led coalition air raid targeted a telecoms facility in Hodeidah last week. The bombing also killed three children.
The air raid came at the same time as an attack on a prison in rebel-held Saada, which killed at least 90 and wounded more than 200. The Saudi-led coalition has denied it bombed the prison.
The nation-wide outage impacted emergency operations in Saada. “Connectivity collapsed after a series of deadly airstrikes,” web monitor NetBlocks said. “The incident severely limited independent media and human rights monitoring efforts.”
Al Hudaydah is the main landing point for internet connectivity in Yemen, hosting the undersea FALCON and SEA-ME-WE 5 cables that route via the Red Sea. Citizens were also unable to transfer money or work with companies outside the country during the outage.
Saudi Arabia has led a coalition to attack Houthi rebels in Yemen since 2015. While it is supporting the internationally recognized government, the conflict is widely seen as a proxy war between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and its Shiite regional rival, Iran, which backs the Houthis.
It is joined by the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, and Jordan, and has been supported by the United States and United Kingdom – primarily through arms sales and intelligence gathering.
Seven years into the conflict, more than 100,000 people have been killed and four million displaced. Millions are on the brink of famine.
The Houthi group still controls much of the north of the country – including Hodeidah, a coastal city home to submarine cable landing stations.
In early 2021, the Biden administration halted Trump-era arms sales and said that the US would “end all support” for a war that had created “a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” However, later in the year, he signed off on a $500 million contract to maintain attack helicopters that were used in the war.
With the war costing the Saudis tens of billions, some observers have hoped that the country would use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to end the war while saving face.
However, the last few weeks have seen a drastic escalation of violence of both sides, culminating in the recent airstrikes. Last week, Houthi rebels launched ballistic missiles into the UAE, killing three.