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Iraq and Kuwait team up for European telecom corridor

Nature, Undersea cables account for as much as 90 percent of Europe-Asia telecommunications, Water Alamy via Reuters
Undersea cables account for as much as 90 percent of Europe-Asia telecommunications
  • Connecting Gulf to Europe
  • To provide ‘high reliability’
  • Red Sea cables have been damaged

Iraq’s Informatics and Telecommunication Public Company, a division of the Ministry of Communications, has signed an agreement with Kuwait’s Zajil Telecom to create a telecommunications corridor from the Gulf region to Europe, transiting through Iraq and Turkey.

The new route will pass through Iraqi sea and land ports.

Iraq’s minister of communications Hayam Al-Yasiri said in a statement to local media it will be a strategic boost for the country, enhancing its position and financial prospects in the regional telecom sector.

Zajil Telecom, a subsidiary of Bahrain’s Kalaam Group, said that the corridor will provide companies with “high reliability, security and faster data transfer speed.”

The development is significant given the recent turmoil in traditional subsea cable routes. 

The Red Sea is a critical passageway for approximately 90 percent of Europe-Asia telecommunications capacity and 17 percent of global internet traffic, according to TeleGeography, a Washington-based telecommunications market research company.

It has witnessed several incidents of cable damage over the past six months.

These disruptions are attributed to geopolitical tensions, including threats from Yemen’s Ansar Allah group, widely referred to as Houthis, to pressure Israel to end its war with Hamas in Gaza.

The Middle East Media Research Institute said last year that Houthi-affiliated Telegram channels had made implied threats against maritime routes and subsea cables in the area. 

The Houthis have been attacking commercial ships passing through Yemeni waters in the Red Sea since November, but they have denied attacking the lines.

Cut lines include Asia-Africa-Europe 1, the Europe India Gateway, Seacom and TGN-Gulf, Hong Kong-based HGC Global Communications said in March.

HGC said the cuts affected 25 percent of the traffic flowing through the Red Sea.

The latest agreement is also a precursor to additional projects to expand Iraq’s connectivity, Al-Yasiri said. 

Plans include installing a third submarine cable at Al-Faw with Saudi Arabia and enhancing links with other Gulf states such as Oman, Bahrain and the UAE. 

The announcement coincides with the upcoming activation of the 45,000 km 2Africa cable which will also land at Al-Faw, increasing the region’s telecommunications capacity.

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