Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cutting of Internet cables no accident?

Countries affected by cut cable shown in red. Kish Island is in the Persian Gulf, upper right.
Map courtesy DailyWireless (dot) org

Mostly ignored by big media here in the United States, the recent flurry of undersea cables being cut across the Middle East and the Mediterranean have all the earmarks of military action, possibly as a means to stall the opening of the Iranian oil bourse, originally scheduled for this week (Feb. 1 – 11), but now postponed due to the interruption of Internet service, suggests Market Watch, a respected online financial newsletter.

A number of cables, possibly as many as eight, have been cut, all within a matter of hours. Affected areas include parts of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and India, and significantly, an island off the southern coast of Iran – Kish - where the Iranian oil bourse is headquartered.

The Iranians have been moving for some time to open the bourse, which has as one of its main purposes changing the denomination of oil trades from US dollars to the euro. This is, of course, threatening to Western powers, which have a vested interest in continuing to use the US dollar – and that’s putting it mildly - as the international trade in crude oil is the bedrock of international trade and hence, the stability of governments all over the world. Specifically, a shift from dollars to the euro (which is now trading better than par with the dollar) will further erode America’s already staggering trade deficit, and possibly trigger an abandonment of the dollar altogether, completely trashing the value of Treasury bills, which are only ultimately backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States.

Recall President Bush’s assertion that “all options are on the table” in dealing with Iran; most people would assume that to mean armed intervention, but there are other “options” besides the use of guns and bombs.

For instance, Venezuela recently had a major bank account in the United States frozen (maybe) as the Venezuelan national petroleum operator Petroleos de Venezuela SA suffered a judgment brought against it by ExxonMobil in US, Dutch and British courts, to the tune of $12 billion. The judgment came down at roughly the same time the Internet cables were cut, by the way.

As for cutting the cables themselves, there are several possibilities and culprits. The US Navy has already demonstrated its ability to interfere with underseas cables with Operation Ivy Bells, back in 1971. There is also the existence of the USS Jimmy Carter, a fast attack submarine which has been retrofitted with an extra section in its hull, which some have claimed includes a room devoted to cable dredging equipment similar to that employed in Glomar Explorer, the joint CIA-Howard Hughes venture to retrieve a downed Soviet submarine back in the early 1970s. If in fact the Carter has these capabilities, it would be a major technological coup, as undersea cable operations are highly problematic.

That said, the present location of the Carter is unknown (the location of all US submarines while deployed is Top Secret as a matter of policy), but it has been estimated by those who know about these things – including myself – that Carter could not be responsible for more than one of the cable incidents, distance and travel times being a severely mitigating factor (the Carter would have to be traveling at near light speed to arrive at all the places in the given time frame– not even theoretically possible – and that’s leaving out the time required for the cutting operations themselves). Israelis? Maybe. They have submarines and the knowledge and motive. But then, so do the Chinese.

It’s a kettle of fish, frankly, but no doubt all a part of the Big Con.

No comments: