Mobile ownership

The mobile phone companies are owned by businessmen who are often close to senior politicians in the country. Asiacell is a Kurdish-based company owned by Faruq Mustafa Rasool, an Iraqi Kurdish businessman.

Another Kurdish businessman, Sirwan Saber Mustafa, owns Korektel which is also based in the Kurdistan region. Zain is owned by Kuwaiti institutions and businessmen, most notably the Kuwait Investment Authority and Omantel. Audiences throughout the country use their services regardless of the origins of the companies or their owners.

Iraqi politicians from the central and southern parts of the country have often been critical of Kurdish officials and foreign bodies, alleging that they control and spy on communications inside the country because of the absence of an Iraqi national communications company

In an attempt by the Iraqi government to curb the control of businessmen and foreigners on the telecommunications sector, the government asked companies to sell part of their shares on the Iraqi stock exchange and only for Iraqi people who are under item in the contracts with these companies, this item suspended for eight years.

In 2015 Zain put 25 percent of its shares on the Iraqi Stock Exchange after establishing a subsidiary company in the name of Al-khatim (The Ring). In the case of Asiacell, a few months after the company put its shares on the market they collapsed, so the company stopped trading its shares, in a scenario thats some politicians considered as intended by the company to prevent Iraqi businessmen in sharing its ownership. Finally Korektel refused to put its shares on the Iraqi stock exchange under the pretext that its headquarters are located in the Kurdistan region and should not subject to the decisions of the federal government in Baghdad.

Mobile communications have witnessed an increase in demand among the Iraqi people. The number of mobile phone lines in Iraq reached 33.5 million customers in 2015 according to the Central Statistics Organisation (CSO), an Iraqi governmental institution, which also states that "The number of telephone lines working in Iraq, except Kurdistan, was 140 million SIM cards." There are no official or informal statistics about SIM cards in the region, since the Kurdistan Regional Government refuses to submit any statements to the federal government in Baghdad on this and other issues including oil imports, because of the political crisis and mistrust between the two sides.

The fixed telephone lines reached 2.179 lines, while the number of mobile Internet service lines reached 5.7 million. It is not possible to categorise the audience because there are no official or unofficial statistics available, as Ministry of Communications officials admitted over a phone interview with the author.