Cablegate: Jordan Telecom Exploring Iraqi Market Options

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.





E.O. 12958: N/A

Sensitive but unclassified, please protect accordingly.

1. (sbu) Summary: Senior management staff from Jordan
Telecom called on ECONOFF May 15 to inquire about commercial
opportunities for provision of mobile telecoms service in
Iraq and to ask for requirements and procedures for importing
telecoms equipment into Iraq on a commercial basis. JTC sees
an immediate need for telecoms service throughout Iraq, and
believes it can make an immediate positive impact on the
telecoms situation in the country. The JTC visit highlights
the aggressive approach some companies here are taking to
break into the market. End summary.

2. (sbu) ECONOFF met senior staff from Jordan Telecom (JTC,
majority owned and operated by France Telecom) at their
request Thursday, May 15, to discuss commercial opportunities
and procedural hurdles to conducting private business in
Iraq. JTC Director of International Telecoms Mohamad
Karmash, Director of Operations and Maintenance Ahmad Bani
Hani, and Director of the JTC Fund Mohammad al-Hiyari told
ECONOFF that JTC is ready "today" to move into Iraq on a
limited basis to offer mobile telecoms service in areas of
particular need. The reps stressed that they were interested
in establishing this service on a commercial basis, and could
initially provide point-to-point systems supported by small
microwave towers for a few hundred clients. In due time,
they said they could fairly easily expand this service with
support from their systems in Jordan, including use of JTC's
VSAT and extension of a nearly-completed fiber-optic link to
the Iraqi border (which they said would be ready in two

3. (sbu) In a separate conversation April 24, Muna Nijem,
Chairwoman of the Board and CEO of the Jordanian
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC), also
mentioned Jordan Telecom's interest in assisting with the
re-establishment of the telephone system in Iraq. She went
further to offer TRC's assistance in creating an Iraqi
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission modeled on Jordan's

4. (sbu) JTC's reps said they have been deluged with
requests from local and international businesses, NGO's and
private citizens to bring some sort of telecoms service to
Iraq. They said businesses, in particular, were complaining
loudly about the inability to contact suppliers,
distributors, and consignees, making normal commerce next to
impossible. The reps asked what documentation would be
necessary and what procedures would have to be followed to
import on a commercial basis the necessary equipment to set
up such a limited system (including satellite dishes,
handsets, microwave equipment, and the like). ECONOFF
promised to look into the existing import protocols, but
cautioned that Iraq was still subject to UN sanctions, under
which much of the equipment they listed could well be
considered "dual-use" items.

5. (sbu) Comment: JTC is aggressively pursuing a clearly
perceived market opportunity, and notes that Kuwaiti
companies have constructed similar set-ups in southern Iraq,
but does not want to run afoul of import restrictions or
other vagaries of the current system that could keep them
from transporting the equipment they need to build a workable
system. Embassy would appreciate Washington guidance
regarding (a) current policy toward allowing commercial
mobile service providers to establish operations in Iraq; and
(b) current regulations and/or procedures for clearing
commercial goods across land or sea borders, and any relevant
registrations - either with civil or military authorities -
that would be required for the conduct of commercial trade in

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