Korek Telecom presses Iraqi authorities to restore int’l and cross-company comms

This is not the first time Korek had disputes with Iraqi authorities, as the NCMC last October cut off the company’s foreign communications over a tax dispute.
The logo of Korek Telecom. (Photo: Korek Telecom)
The logo of Korek Telecom. (Photo: Korek Telecom)

ERBIL (Kurdistan24) - Korek Telecom’s international and cross-company communications were recently taken offline again by the Iraqi National Communications and Media Commission (NCMC), a senior company official told Kurdistan24 on Monday.

“We have held intensive discussions with the commission and are waiting for their decision to resolve the issues,” the source, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.

“We have not received any response from the commission or any other party, so all of our work has stopped. There was no response last week due to the New Year holiday," the source further added.

This is not the first time Korek has been in a tense standoff with Iraqi authorities, as the NCMC last October cut off the company’s foreign communications with local and international telecommunications companies over a tax dispute. The NCMC later successfully convinced Zain and Asiacell to halt cross-company communications with Korek lines in November.

At the time, the commission had ordered Korek to pay taxes totaling $800 million within 15 days.

"We are ready to resolve everything, [...] and the decision is up to [the commission]," the source concluded.

Read More: Korek Telecom external telecommunications operational, says company rep

Last November, the company had announced that its foreign communications resumed functionality and that it had resolved its issues with the NCMC. However, the resumption was an extension for a limited period of time, and the commission again disconnected the lines in December.

The disputes between the company and Iraqi authorities are a microcosm of the strained relations between the Kurdistan Region and the federal government. The disputes have been highlighted by the stoppage of Kurdish oil exports, unpaid Kurdish civil servant salaries, the ongoing drone and rocket strikes by Iraqi militias towards Kurdish territories, and, relevantly, aggressive taxation protocol against Kurdish businesses.

Highlighted by the $2.5 billion corruption scandal that plagued the country in the fall of 2022, Kurdish leadership has often exposed Iraq's history of complicity in rampant corruption as a way of showcasing how Baghdad abuses its centralized, federal system in its favor.

In an April 2019 interview with Telecom Review, the company’s CEO, Sirwan Barzani, who is also the commander of the Peshmerga's Sector 6 Front, discussed in length at how the company has dealt with challenging obstacles, including the destruction of its infrastructure in the war against ISIS, external migration of Kurdistan Region residents, the economic downturn in Iraq, and the overall dire security situation in the country as a whole.

In 2011, Korek established a strategic partnership with France-based Orange Telecom, later leading the Kurdish company to provide foreign services in 23 countries.

Editing by Wladimir van Wilgenburg