Asia Cell is one of the largest telecommunication companies operating across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Its headquarters is based in Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region. Photo: Yago Group
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Asiacell and Korek Telecom, two of the three leading telecommunications companies in Iraq, said on Tuesday that they have not yet received a formal request from the federal government asking them to move their headquarters to Baghdad, Reuters reported.
“If required, we will seek a constructive solution which is in the best interests of our customers and all involved parties,” Asiacell said, according to Reuters.
An official from Asiacell said in a statement that they have many offices across Iraq. The largest is in Baghdad because it has the company's biggest network and is where they have the most subscribers.
It said their line of communication with regard to licenses and regulation is the Baghdad-controlled Communication Media Commission (CMC).
“Asiacell is committed to all the rules and decisions issued by the relevant governmental bodies according to the law,” the official said.
It added that Asiacell, Korek, and Zain, the three mobile phone operators in Iraq, have received their licences from the Iraqi government.
Asiacell said they have paid more than $4 billion in taxes and license fees to the Iraqi authority. It said that the company is a “success story for the country” whose subscribers are more than 12 million people.
In the latest of measures issued by the Iraqi federal government following Kurdistan’s independence vote, Baghdad ordered on Monday that “networks of the communication for mobile phones should be under the authority of the federal authorities and have to be transferred to Baghdad.”
The head of the administrative council of Korek Telecom, Sirwan Barzani, responded to the federal government’s request on Monday, saying he does not know what Baghdad means with this decision, calling it “unclear.”
“We basically received a permit from Baghdad to work and we do not know what the purpose is of this new decision,” Barzani said.
AsiaCell and Korek Telecom, whose headquarters are in the Kurdistan Region, provide mobile services across Iraq, not just the Kurdistan Region.
Kurdistan’s Transport and Communication Minister Mawlud Bawa Murad told Rudaw on September 29 that the telecommunication industry is under the full authority of the Iraqi government and his ministry has no authority over the Kurdish-owned companies who operate both in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region including Asiacell and Korek Telecom.
The order bringing telecommunications under Baghdad authority was issued following a meeting on Monday of the national security council, chaired by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The statement released on Monday by the Iraqi government did not specifically identify the networks by name, but is believed to be directed at Korek, which is based in Erbil and the Sulaimani-based Asiacell. Iraq’s third telecommunications operator, Zain, is already based in Baghdad.
Last updated at 5:17 p.m.