5 Best VPNs for Iraq

Heavily restricted, with access permitted to only a wealthy and politically approved few, internet freedom was almost non-existent under the rule of Saddam Hussein. The US led invasion, whatever its other merits or otherwise, did allow ordinary Iraqis free access to the internet, a right that is guaranteed under the US backed constitution.

This led to something of an explosion in internet use, with internet cafes springing up everywhere. However, despite concerted efforts by the US government to help build and develop much needed internet infrastructure, it is estimated that only about 10 per cent of the population has regular internet access.

In a deeply Muslim country still riven with sectarian violence, it is unsurprising that the Iraqi government has made moves to censor the internet. In 2009, such a move, banning websites deemed harmful to the public and requiring internet cafes to register with the authorities, came to nothing in the face of opposition who called it ‘a return of dictatorship’, and the continued presence of US influence in Iraqi politics.

US troops (and with them a great deal of US influence on the Iraqi government) withdrew from Iraq in 2011 however, and it appears that the government is now intent on introducing draconian new cybercrime legislation. As the Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2013, Iraq report puts it,

“Internet access is not currently restricted, but the Information Technology Crimes law currently under review by the Iraqi parliament threatens to restrict free speech online.”

Targeted largely at journalist blamed for promoting instability and inciting violence, this very loosely worded bill calls for three months’ imprisonment for anyone who ‘intrudes, annoys, or calls [Internet] users without authorization… [or]… deliberately accesses a website … without authorization’. Even worse, ‘whoever violates principles, religious, moral, family, or social values or personal privacy through information networks or computers in any way’ can be sentenced to a year in prison.

The Human Rights Watch report says of the bill that ‘badly written provisions and draconian punishments violate due process and free speech’.

As with most censorship issues, a VPN service can help if used carefully. When connected to a VPN server, your ISP (and any authorities who may be watching) cannot see what you are up to, as all data is transmitted through an encrypted tunnel. Observers on the web can only trace your internet activity as far as your VPN server (not to you). It you live (or are visiting) Iraq, we therefore strongly recommend that you use VPN service with no connection to Iraq, and which does not user servers located inside the country. In fact, given Iraq’s geo-location and political ties to other governments in the region, using servers located in Europe is probably the best choice.

We also urge you to remember that there are many other ways that can be used identify you, from unguarded comments you make, to possession of privileged information. Please be careful.


*All prices shown in US dollars

Advertiser disclosure

Editor’s Choice

Winner – ExpressVPN


Positives: Easy-to-use software, excellent speeds, good customer service

Negatives: Bit pricy, but worth it for the features

ExpressVPN have been around for a while, and have slowly and methodically built a great company. When we tested them their speeds were excellent, the sofware was really easy to use, and their 24/7 customer service also delivered on the promises.

Their pricing is not the cheapest, but you do get what you pay for. As I said above, the price is worth these positive points. The company boasts servers in 78 different countries, which means you can appear to be in any country you want.

Try Out the Best VPN for Iraq Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day moneyback guarantee

2. PIA

Positives: no logs, great attitude to privacy, very fast, accepts Bitcoin, VPN client has some great features, P2P: yes, Android app, router config guides, pre-configured routers available

Negatives: US company

This US company offers pretty much everything you could hope for in a VPN provider, including a top-notch regard for privacy (no logs, shared IPs to make individual identification with online activity very difficult, accepts anonymous payment by Bitcoin), a great VPN client (Windows and OSX) with DNS leak protection, an internet kill switch and port forwarding, and slew of other groovy features (e.g. an Android app, great support for almost all VPN setup situations, and DD-WRT and Tomato routers). We think PIA is great.

» Visit PIA

3. Hide My Ass

Positives: Servers in Turkey and Jordan, great VPN client makes changing servers very easy, lots of other freebies on-site to help maintain anonymity on the internet

Negatives: keeps logs and has a history of collaboration with the authorities, a bit pricey

Our only real problem with this large UK based provider is that it keeps logs, but this is unlikely to be an issue for VPN users in Iraq. Otherwise, HMA’s service is fast, and comes with a good Windows and OSX VPN client. Of particular interest to users in Iraq may be HMA’s servers in Turkey and Jordan, which will provide a faster internet experience (due to less lag) than if using servers located in Europe, although they may be less secure (which may not be a problem, depending on what you are doing).

» Visit HideMyAss

4. AirVPN

Positives: No logs, accepts Bitcoin, transparent service, fast, excellent attitude to privacy, VPN though SSL and SSH tunnels, Tor over VPN, P2P: yes

Negatives: None

AirVPN is another no logs company that we rate very highly, and when it comes to security there are few better. This Italian company, formed by Pirate Party supporting activists and hactivists, uses ultra-strong 256-bit encryption and supports VPN over Tor, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels for insane levels of VPN stealth. Subscribing to various EU privacy directives and codes of best practice (but not the Data Retention Directive which not apply to VPNs in Italy), AirVPN accepts payment by Bitcoin and offers network transparency through a series of beautifully presented graphs.

» Visit AirVPN

5. PureVPN

Positives: P2P: yes (on some servers), ‘up to’ 256-bit SSTP and OpenVPN encryption, 2 simultaneous connections, iOS app, Android app, 3 days money back guarantee, servers in Turkey

Negatives; Keeps logs (but based in Hong Kong)

Like HMA, PureVPN is a good choice for those wanting a large international company with a worldwide presence. As with HMA, PureVPN does keep logs, but this is unlikely to be a concern if you access the internet from Iraq (especially as PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, which has minimal accountability to international law). Elsewhere, PureVPN has a fast service, decent Windows and OSX software, and apps for iOS and Android. It also has servers located in Turkey, which may be useful to customers in Iraq.

» Visit PureVPN


The truth is that BlackBerry devices are not very well set up for use with commercial VPN services. This is a shame, and it is something we would like to see addressed in future versions of the BlackBerry OS. In the meantime, it is possible to benefit from the protection VPN affords by connecting to the internet over WiFi, using other devices’ VPN connections.

And here’s the summary once more:


*All prices shown in US dollars

Advertiser disclosure

Pete runs Best VPN and wants to get detailed information to the readers. He is dedicated to being the best and providing the highest quality at anything he does. You can also find him on Twitter or Google+

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