The latest Iraqi news on developments and opportunities in communications and media from Iraq Business News

Iraqis on Social Media Fight Extremists Online

Iraqis on Social Media Fight Extremists Online

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The extremist Islamic State group has worked the Internet to it’s advantage from the very start of its campaign in Iraq. Locals have lagged behind. But now, some say, they are coming together online to fight back.

Shortly after the extremist group known as the Islamic State took over the northern city of Mosul last June, the Iraqi government shut down various forms of online social media and Internet services. It was supposed to halt the transmission of sensitive and intimidating material being transmitted between the Islamic State, or IS, group, their supporters and potential enemies.

But it didn’t really work, says Iraqi blogger and activist Tahseen al-Zarkani. “The former Iraqi government made a big mistake by blocking those sites,” he told NIQASH. “Because they basically left the IS group alone online, to occupy Facebook and Twitter, with their own propaganda.”

Ordinary Iraqis could only access these sites with difficulty and nobody else was able to put out any information about what was really happening in Iraq; so all the news people were getting was one sided and made the IS group look victorious.

“Iraqi activists were defeated before the battle for social media even began,” al-Zarkani says. “At first they were helpless and really didn’t know what to do. But this has changed. Local activists have been able to get more experience and training to confront the IS group online since then.”

He now believes that Iraq’s online activists have come together, many from different backgrounds, and are trying to counter the IS group’s propaganda and “make up for the opportunity they missed before”.

“Most Iraqi activists tend to use Facebook and only a few of them use Twitter,” says Hisham al-Hashimi, a researcher into armed militias in Iraq who also advises the Iraqi government.

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Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

New Communications Service for Oil Cos

New Communications Service for Oil Cos

By John Lee.

O3b Networks announced a multi-year agreement to provide trunking services to UAE-based Meosat, an internet service provider to the oil and gas industry.

The new capacity is intended to serve oil industry clients in southern Iraq.

(Source: Telecompaper)

Posted in Oil & Gas, Telecoms/Comms4 Comments

Call to Investigate Threats Against Reuters Chief

Call to Investigate Threats Against Reuters Chief

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Iraqi authorities to investigate death threats against Reuters‘ bureau chief in Baghdad and ensure that journalists are able to work in Iraq without fear of reprisal.

Ned Parker was forced to flee Iraq following death threats, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Threats aimed at silencing journalists, no matter from where they come, cannot be tolerated. The Iraqi people deserve to know and to share information about the extreme violence and volatility wracking their nation,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, from New York. “We call on authorities in Baghdad to investigate this act of intimidation and hold the perpetrators to account.

Reuters said the threats against Parker followed an April 3 report it had published about human rights abuses and looting perpetrated by Iraqi police and Shia militias in the city of Tikrit, which was largely freed from the militant group Islamic State days earlier. Parker co-authored the article.

The story described how two Reuters correspondents allegedly saw Iraqi federal police repeatedly stab an individual they apparently suspected of being an Islamic State fighter in the neck. The report said that Shia paramilitaries dragged a body through the streets behind their car. The report also described other cases of looting and arson in the city.

On April 5, a post on a Facebook group called “The Hammer” issued death threats against Parker, Reuters said. The agency cited an Iraqi security source as saying the Facebook group is believed to be linked to Shia militias.

The post demanded that Parker be kicked out of Iraq. One commenter said that killing Parker was the “best way to silence him.” Facebook later removed a series of threatening posts at Reuters’ request, according to Reuters.

Three days later, a news report on the satellite TV station Al-Ahd TV said Parker had attacked government forces in the article and demanded the journalist be deported, Reuters said. The station is owned by the Iranian-backed armed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, the agency said.

Asaib Ahl al-Haq is one of a number of groups that supports the Iraqi army in its war against Islamic State. As Islamic State has launched increasing attacks on Iraq, trained militias have stepped up to help the country fight the militant group, according to news reports.

Journalists in Iraq, particularly local ones, have been under threat as the security situation in the country has deteriorated, according to local press freedom groups including the Journalists Freedom Observatory.

(Source: Committee to Protect Journalists)

Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms1 Comment

Reuters Bureau Chief Flees Iraq

Reuters Bureau Chief Flees Iraq

By John Lee.

Reuters‘ bureau chief in Baghdad has left Iraq after he was threatened on Facebook and denounced by a satellite news channel belonging to a Shiite paramilitary group.

Journalist Ned Parker has previously detailed lynching and looting in Tikrit, following the city’s liberation from the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL).

In addition to death threats on Facebook, a program on Al-Ahd, a television station owned by Iranian-backed armed group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, accused the reporter and Reuters of denigrating Iraq and its government-backed forces, and called on viewers to demand Parker be expelled.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s office said that the government “staunchly opposes any bullying [or] intimidation towards the media and any attempts to curb and encumber freedom of speech,” adding that it is committed to developing and supporting a free press.

(Source: Reuters, Office of the Prime Minister)

(Press image via Shutterstock)

Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms4 Comments

Iraqi Cinema finds New Direction

Iraqi Cinema finds New Direction

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Traveling in an old car, young Iraqi filmmakers had taken off at noon Feb. 18 from the headquarters of the Iraqi Independent Film Center on Al-Rasheed Street, heading toward the National Theater.

They were accompanied by a folk music band to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the center and the 12th year of independent Iraqi cinema.

The first Iraqi feature film to be made after the fall of the Baathist regime was “Ghayr Saleh” (“Invalid”), directed by Oday Rasheed. The movie was produced independently. Following that came British director Mohammed Darraji’s “Dreams,” which tackles the chaos that spread in Iraq over the last three decades.

Iraq’s Independent Film Center is a dream come true for young people who aspire to make cinematic productions that do not follow any ideology nor succumb to the whims of the government, but instead reflect real life concerns, all the while meeting technical and international standards.

Iraq does not have a long history of filmmaking, with just 100 films from the declaration of the Iraqi state in 1921 to the fall of President Saddam Hussein in 2003. Most of the films produced were aimed at mobilizing people. They praised the Iraq-Iran War of the 1980s and Hussein, while others were purely commercial, including mediocre comedies.

During the Feb. 18 celebration, the Independent Film Center showed six feature and short films, some of which had won awards at international festivals. Among them was director Salman Salman’s “Hadiaat Abi” (“Gift of My Father”), which won the the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival’s Crystal Bear Award. Organizers distributed a document detailing the center’s productions over the past six years.

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Posted in Leisure and Tourism, Telecoms/Comms4 Comments

Interview with Iraqi MP: ‘This is Iraq’s Last Chance’

Interview with Iraqi MP: ‘This is Iraq’s Last Chance’

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

NIQASH met with Maysoon al-Damluji, head of Iraq’s Parliamentary Committee on Media and Culture, to discuss biased journalists, stolen antiquities and what problems can be expected after the extremists have left town.

A lack of opportunity for independent financing means that a lot of Iraqi media, diverse as it is, has never been what one might consider balanced or unbiased. It’s well known that there are political or religious affiliations in play in the local press.

Now thanks to the current security crisis, which has deepened already existing ethnic and sectarian divisions in the country, the tone of reports has become even more sectarian in nature over the past few months – everything from political imbalance to sectarianism and racism to out-and-out misinformation and propaganda.

An independent public broadcaster in Iraq would doubtless do a lot to remedy this – however at the moment, the country’s public broadcasting network, the Iraqi Media Network, or IMN, which controls influential outlets like Al Iraqiya TV and Al Sabah newspaper, is not considered particularly independent.

Government-funded and monitored through the government-administered Communication and Media Commission, or CMC, the Iraqi Media Network has mostly been considered a mouthpiece for whomever was in power.

However ambitious new legislation is planned that would see the CMC and what has optimistically been described as “Iraq’s version of the BBC” become more independent and, hopefully, representative of all Iraqis, no matter what sect or ethnicity.

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Posted in Politics, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

New Iraq Broadband Route expected This Year

New Iraq Broadband Route expected This Year

By John Lee.

IQ Networks, a wholesale internet provider based in Sulaymaniya, expects to open a $100-million (120-billion-Iraqi-dinar) broadband cable from Turkey to Iraq’s Gulf coast by the end of this year.

Reuters reports that, after spending an extra $30 million to replace lines and equipment overrun by Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL), the company aims to carry international traffic through Iraq to link Asia and Europe, boosting Iraq’s hopes of becoming an international hub for Internet traffic.

IQ Networks will be granted a 15-year renewable licence to operate the network, but will hand ownership of the cable outside of Kurdistan to the state-owned Iraq Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC), and will pay 26 percent of all revenue to the government.

Martin Frank, chief executive of IQ Networks, told Reuters:

This will be the first privately built and privately run network of this kind outside of Kurdistan.

“We’re expecting large parts of the above-ground infrastructure – shelters, generators, power equipment and transmission equipment – to have been stolen or destroyed, but large parts of the underground infrastructure – ducts and fiber cables – (should) be okay.”

The company began to build the transit-only fibre network in 2010, but the project was awarded to another company in 2011, before that decision was reversed in 2013.

The network follows Iraq’s main oil and gas pipeline, and was nearing launch before ISIS captured areas through which the cable travelled in North and West Iraq.

As a result, IQ has had to lay an extra 1,000 kms (620 miles) of fibre to re-route the network further east.

According to the Reuters report, Iraq relies heavily on Kurdistan for internet connectivity after Baghdad’s insistence on state control of fixed infrastructure within its jurisdiction stifled development and detered private investors.

The government also segregates networks carrying transit and locally-destined traffic, meaning that the new network cannot carry data to or from Iraqi domestic users, and therefore will do nothing to reduce Iraq’s Internet costs.

Outside of Kurdistan a one megabit per second (mbps) broadband connection costs $399 per month versus $6.17 in Iran.

(Source: Reuters)

Posted in Telecoms/Comms4 Comments

Zain Iraq Announces Snr Management Changes

Zain Iraq Announces Snr Management Changes

By John Lee.

Zain Group has announced that Wael Ghanayem, Chief Financial and Operating Officer of Zain Iraq will return to Zain Group to become part of the Group’s executive leadership in implementing its new strategic direction of transforming into an integrated digital mobile operator.

In addition, Mr. Ghanayem will continue to support Zain Iraq, the country’s leading mobile operator, as an advisor to the mobile operator’s Board of Directors.

Following this change, Zain Iraq’s Chairman and CEO Mohammad Al Charchafchi announced the creation of two new deputy CEO roles, promoting two long-serving senior executives, Philipe Hanna as Deputy CEO of Commercial and Strategy; and Dr. Haidar Radi as Deputy CEO of Technical and Regulatory.

Furthermore, Samer Musleh (pictured) has been appointed Chief Financial Officer of Zain Iraq, having been promoted from his Director role. All three appointees combined represent many years of experience in the telecom industry, many of these years within Zain Group and Zain Iraq in various roles and responsibilities.

All above mentioned management changes are effective immediately.

Commenting on the changes, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer said:

“I would like to express my profound gratitude to Wael Ghanayem for the phenomenal work he has undertaken at Zain Iraq over his seven years at the company.

“Through his efforts since joining as CFO in 2008 and then as COO, Zain Iraq has become the leading mobile operator in the country and one of Zain Group’s most profitable operations representing 38% of revenues and 31% of the Group’s customer base at the end of 2014.

“I am confident that the Board of Zain Iraq will benefit from his advisory role and I look forward to welcoming him to a key position within the Zain Group executive team to support our strategic direction.”

With Mr. Al Charchafchihaving two deputies of the caliber of Philipe Hanna and Dr. Haidar Radi as well as an astute financial performer in Samer Musleh, will ensure the future growth and ongoing success of the operation taking into consideration the exciting, yet challenging times ahead as Zain Iraq works towards undertaking an IPO and as it expands the network and rolls-out 3G services across the country.”

To date, Zain has invested in excess of US$ 5 billion in the development of its network and rollout of mobile services in Iraq.

At the end of 2014, the operation in Iraq served 13.8 million customers and recently launched 3G services across the country following its acquisition of required spectrum at a license fee of US$ 307 million.

The operator has a total of 4,076 network sites, covering 98% of the population and employs in excess of 3,000 Iraqi nationals.

(Source: Zain Group)

Posted in Construction & Engineering, Telecoms/Comms10 Comments

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