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This is what is happening to Iraq's Internet domain

ICANN's head reveals all

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But don't forget the community

So what is the difficulty in ICANN simple handing it over to Iraq's new ICMC? Well, a crucial part of ICP-1 is the sentence: "It is appropriate for interested parties to have a voice in the selection of the designated manager."

And by "interested parties" this has always meant the organised and capable Internet community in each country, which will inevitably be called upon to construct a country's Internet infrastructure. Without some form of agreement from them, a redelegation would fall flat on its face as the Internet is only simple on the outside. Also, without this clause, the Iraq domain would already be in the hands of various other chancers that have continually prodded ICANN to give them control of .iq for nearly two years.

Twomey admits that there "have been communications between bodies in Iraq" in the past. And there have also been several - rejected - attempts by people to be recognised as representatives of .iq in various international Net bodies.

He stresses that including the local Internet community is "not a new model" and even points to several examples of redelegations that have come about through the combination of academic users and the business community working together and taking over the job of running the domain.

Asked therefore if ICANN believes it needs to hear from Bayan Elashi for a redelegation to take place, Twomey is crystal clear: "There is no need to be in discussion with him."

Is the Internet community behind Dr Siyamend Zaid Othman, head of the ICMC? Quite possibly not. Dr Othman represents a body put in place by the US adminstration - it was Bremer who appointed him. Othman is an Iraqi Kurd but has been out of Iraq for a long time, has become friendly with Western politicians, written in numerous high-profile US publications, and holds a post in a Western media agency. He is the idea candidate from the US government's point of view, but Iraqis may feel differently.

Far, far more significant than that though, as Twomey informs us, is that the redelegation request did not come from the new Iraqi interim government, but rather Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority - which no longer holds any authority in Iraq.

What about now? "We have received no application from the Iraqi Provisional government as from today," Twomey explained. In short, the reason why IANA/ICANN are not looking at redelegation yet is because no one with the required authority has asked them to.

Does the current provisional government have the authority, considering it was not democratically elected? Yes, he says. "There is a UN agreement that gives it clear sovereignty in international law, it is not for us to say one way or another."

And if/when a request from the IIA is received? "If we receive one, we would deal with it according to our outstanding processes."

And that again means the Iraqi Internet community will get a large say in what happens. Unfortunately, Twomey is not so keen on saying who he sees as being in the Iraqi Net community. "I wouldn't like to say, but it is a very sophisticated country with a strong technical community," is all he ventures.

Will a condition of any redelegation be that Iraq signs up to the controversial contract in which ICANN is recognised as the ultimate authority in Internet matters - something that has consistently occurred in the past, leading some to believe that ICANN has blackmailed countries to gain power?

"You are referring to controversial instances in the past," Twomey says. "There is a whole discussion and review of that approach. What we want is accountability frameworks, very different in intent and style to the old ICANN contract. So say you are going through a redelegation, there would be an agreement that lays out the responsibilities each has to each other."

And so when will it be done with? A redelegation of .iq is inevitable. But it is going to take a formal request from the recognised government and/or a request from the Iraqi Internet community for it to happen - preferable both agreeing that the same person should be in charge.

If the Iraqis want their domain back - which they almost certainly do - it is up to them to get together and all agree on one approach and then IANA/ICANN will make the necessary change. In a very troubled country, a bit of old-style Internet consensus could well be a beacon of light in pulling the new democracy together.

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