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Kurdistan Rejects Baghdad Ultimatum over Internet Providers

By RUDAW 10/10/2013
An internet cafe in Baghdad. Photo: AFP
An internet cafe in Baghdad. Photo: AFP


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region says it will continue to deal directly with international Internet providers, rejecting an ultimatum by the central government in Baghdad to regulate communications in accordance with federal laws.

"That decision by the central government does not apply to Kurdistan," said Karwan Sheikh Raza, head of Kurdistan's post and communication department. “Kurdistan's own ministry of communication is responsible for dealing with foreign companies and we have nothing to do with Baghdad."

He said that Internet price and quality in the autonomous Kurdistan Region differs greatly from the rest of Iraq, and that Erbil itself decides the rules for Internet suppliers in the region.

According to Raza, the Iraqi government provides Internet connections to citizens through local private suppliers, and has imposed heavy taxes on companies that receive services from foreign countries.

"Baghdad has now reduced that tax and in return asked the companies to reduce their prices, too," Raza said. "But the Kurdistan Region hasn't imposed heavy taxes on the companies in the first place and there is no need to reduce it now."

Official data from the department of communication shows that three major companies in the Kurdistan Region are supplying Internet services through deals with foreign companies.

"In each province we have 6-7 smaller companies that supply Internet and this creates competition and reasonable prices," said Raza.

On Tuesday, the Iraqi government gave a two-day ultimatum to all Internet companies to reduce their prices.

"Perhaps that is because in the rest of Iraq the price of Internet services is too high already that is why the Iraqi government has passed such a law," Raza explained.

Meanwhile, Raza said that his department is not fully satisfied with Internet provision in Kurdistan.

"We are not content with the quality and price of Internet here, and in our view they (service providers) have managed to fulfill only 40 percent of people's needs," he said.


John Herron | 11/10/2013
The internet should be a free service that all can use!
Atheist | 11/10/2013
In street psychology this is called "shit test" Baghdad is trying to impose it's dominance. Kurdistan must say no and just ignore Baghdad. No mention of internet or telecommunication is made in Iraqi constitution. On what basis Baghdad wants to have control?
Kam | 11/10/2013
Can we get some prices from Baghdad and some from kurdistan so we can decide. Why can't the author give done price indications? So a clearer picture of price differences can be seen. I know thing for sure prices in Kurdistan are double of those of Europe with only a tenth of the bandwidth. How are the prices in Baghdad after these changes?
Arjun | 11/10/2013
Hehe, I'm telling you besides the Air Force, we are already independent from Baghdad!! Biji Kurdistani Azad!!!
Awat | 17/10/2013
The Government shouldn’t impose pricing requirements on ISPs, in a free market the demand should determine the price of the Internet service. If the argument is that these providers are price gauging the public, then instead, the Government should provide research and development, infrastructure, and financial (loans) support to local businesses such that they can compete. If prices are inflated, a rational and competitive public would identify the need for a low cost provider, this provider would then compete for the business of those unsatisfied with current prices. The Government should not play with market prices, let it decide for itself what prices should be.
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