Internet across Yemen collapsed early this morning without explanation, informed web monitors.
Yemen: Amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, internet access throughout Yemen collapsed on Friday and remained down for hours. The officials attributed the outage to unannounced ‘maintenance work,’ which occurred after attacks by the country’s Houthi rebels against both Israel and the US. The significant outage commenced early in the morning, causing a complete halt in traffic on YemenNet, the country’s primary broadband provider that serves approximately 10 million users. YemenNet is under the control of Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthis.
Both NetBlocks, that tracks internet outages, and CloudFlare reported the outage. Both didn’t explained the cause of the outage.
“Data shows that the issue has impacted connectivity at a national level as well,” CloudFlare said. However, after several hours, some service was restored, though access remained troubled.
Yemen’s Public Telecom Corp., in a statement to the Houthi-controlled SABA state news agency, attributed the outage to maintenance.
“Internet service will return after the completion of the maintenance work,” the statement quoted an unidentified official as saying.
In January 2022, an outage happened due to a bombing of a telecommunications building in Hodeida, the Red City port city, by the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthis in Yemen. There is no immediate information regarding a similar attack.The internet connectivity for TeleYemen is facilitated through the undersea FALCON cable, which enters Yemen via the Hodeida port along the Red Sea. Additionally, the FALCON cable has another landing point in the far eastern port of Ghaydah, although the majority of Yemen’s population resides in the western region along the Red Sea.
GCX, the company responsible for operating the cable, did not provide a response to a request for comment on Friday.
The outage occurred following a series of recent drone and missile attacks carried out by the Houthis, primarily targeting Israel as part of their ongoing airstrikes and ground offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This includes a claimed strike on Thursday, targeting the Israeli port city of Eilat on the Red Sea. Moreover, the Houthis also successfully shot down an American MQ-9 Reaper drone this week using a surface-to-air missile, contributing to a wider range of attacks in the Middle East that have raised concerns about the potential outbreak of a regional war.
The conflict in Yemen began in 2014 when the Houthis seized control of Sanaa and a significant portion of the country’s northern region. In response, the internationally recognized government fled southward and sought refuge in Saudi Arabia.The Houthi takeover led to the intervention of a Saudi-led coalition several months later, resulting in the transformation of the conflict into a regional proxy war involving Saudi Arabia and Iran. Meanwhile, the United States had been providing intelligence assistance to the kingdom, although concerns over civilian casualties from Saudi airstrikes led to reduced U.S. support. It is suspected that the U.S. continues to carry out drone strikes targeting alleged members of Yemen’s local al-Qaida branch.
The war has caused a significant loss of life, with over 150,000 people, including both combatants and civilians, having been killed. The situation has also resulted in one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands more. While a cease-fire that expired in October of the previous year has largely held since then, the Houthis are believed to be gradually escalating their attacks as a lasting peace agreement has yet to be achieved.