Iraqi Amateur Radio Shutdown Continues

NEWINGTON, CT, Mar 30, 2007 — Iraq Amateur Radio Society (IARS) President Diya Sayah, YI1DZ, says a ham radio blackout in his country remains in effect, with no end in sight. As part of the new security plan in Baghdad, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense earlier this month requested that radio amateurs remain off the air until security improves.

Because of a miscommunication, however, word failed to reach the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission, which still is issuing licenses.

Sayah chalks up the open-ended ham radio blackout to a misunderstanding of Amateur Radio on the part of the defense minister. Working through the Ministry of Education and Scientific Research, the IARS has attempted — so far without success — to explain Amateur Radio to the Ministry of Defense.

“Because it’s between ministries, this will take time also,” Sayah said this week, adding that he was not optimistic about meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki anytime soon.

“Now anyone on the air is a pirate, as everyone is obliged not to use their radios at the present time,” he added. He said IARS members continue making contacts using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) modes such as IRLP, EchoLink and others.

The Ministry of Defense also had asked the IARS to store all licensees’ ham radio equipment during the shutdown, but Sayah says that’s not happening because of the dangerous situation that persists within the capital.

The ham radio shutdown affects non-Iraqi licensees, including members of the military and contractors holding YI9-prefix call signs. It does not apply to Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) operations, which use military frequencies.