Iraq's Informatics and Telecommunications Public Company (ITPC) and Kuwaiti telco Zajil Telecom have signed an agreement to create a communications route from the Gulf region to Europe.

The route will create a telecommunications corridor to Europe, via Iraq, and will pass through Turkey.

Subsea cable
– Getty Images

The announcement comes at a time when several subsea cables in the Red Sea region have been damaged.

The Red Sea is significant for subsea cables, as Telegeography estimates that 90 percent of all Europe-Asia capacity passes through this channel. Around 17 cables currently or are planned to run through the Red Sea and link Asia to Europe.

In February, the AAE-1, Seacom, Europe India Gateway (EIG), and TGN systems - were damaged in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen (though Seacom and TGN are actually one system operated by Seacom and Tata Communications).

Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels were blamed for this, and have made threats against subsea cables in the Red Sea on social media. The group is a Shia-Islamist political organization that emerged in Yemen in the 1990s.

Iraq's Ministry of Communications, Hiyam Al-Yasiri, said the partnership with Zajil will strengthen the country's strategic position in the region.

According to Al-Yasiri, the agreement is the first of several projects Iraq has for subsea cables to connect the Gulf States, South, and West Asia up to the European continent via Iraqi land and sea ports.

He added that the Ministry will soon sign similar contracts, including with Saudi Arabia to install a third submarine cable for Iraq in Al-Faw, while further agreements are anticipated that will improve Iraq's connection with other Gulf states such as Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.

The 45,000km long 2Africa cable which is due to come online this year will also land at Al-Faw.

The Houthis – officially known as Ansar Allah – have been attacking commercial ships passing by Yemeni water since November. More than two dozen ships have been attacked by drones, missiles, and speedboats.

Last year Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) – a think tank founded by a former Israeli Intelligence officer and a political scientist described as a neoconservative and revisionist Zionist on Wikipedia – said Telegram channels reportedly affiliated with the Houthis had made implied threats against subsea cables in the Red Sea.

DCD covered the threat against subsea cables in the Red Sea in its latest issue - read more here.