The Iraqi government has signalled its intention to take control of Kurdistan-based mobile operators and move their headquarters to Baghdad, Reuters reports. The news agency quoted a statement from Baghdad as saying: ‘The government committee for national security issued a decision that all mobile phone networks must be under federal control and should be moved to Baghdad.’ The announcement followed a meeting between the cabinet and top security officials regarding the response to Kurdistan’s recent independence referendum, which delivered a vote in favour of separating from Iraq and was considered unconstitutional by the Baghdad administration. The move reportedly forms part of Iraq’s strategy of isolating the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which also included a ban on direct international flights to the region.
Further details were not provided, but it is believed that the declaration was aimed at Korek and Asiacell, which operate acrsoss the country but are based in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, respectively. A third provider – Zain Iraq – is headquartered in Baghdad. TeleGeography notes that the KRG has also licensed a further two wireless providers, Fastlink and Mobitel, to serve the Kurdistan region alone, but it was unclear whether the order extended to the duo.