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Asia Channel Linked to Iraq Invasion Enthusiast Ahmed Chalabi

By: Layal Haddad


Saturday, November 19, 2011

A New Beirut-based channel promising to champion democracy and social justice has close ties and is possibly funded by Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, the prominent Iraqi apologist of the US invasion of Iraq.

At Asia channel, whose headquarter studios are located in the Jnah district of Beirut, only the studiosí finishing touches are left before it officially starts test broadcasts in December.

After months of being on air, showing nothing but documentaries, Asia channelís team finally seems to be complete. The cast includes Lebanese and Arab media personalities such as Abdallah Shames El Deen, the channelís chief news editor; Nisrine Naser El Deen, recently resigned from Otv; Shirine Naser, Amine Abou Yehya, Baker Natek, and Basima Eisa from Libya TV.The channelís general manager is Intifad Konbor, a well known Iraqi politician and member of the Iraqi National Congress, led by Ahmed Chalabi.

When asked whether Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, is one of the shareholders, Konbor defensively denied any relation between the channel and the controversial politician "despite the fact that we hold great respect for him and consider him one the liberators of Iraq."

Chalabi is an Iraqi politician and businessman who was one of the most prominent voices calling for the American invasion of Iraq in order to overthrow Saddamís regime.

Konbor is close to Chalabi and his "tweets" always defend and promote him and his policy. The station manager keeps all the articles ever written about Chalabi, as well as all the interviews ever conducted with him, on his twitter account.

Despite Konborís denial of the connection, al-Akhbar was informed by a source close to the broadcaster that Chalabi is indeed one of its main sponsors, along with "Iran who provided considerable funding in order to support the channel."

The source added also mentioned an agreement within the channel to avoid mentioning Chalabiís connection to it, "despite the fact that everyone knows this, Iraqi viewers even call Asia channel 'Ahmed Chalabiís satellite channelí."

The secrecy surrounding the channelís ownership raises questions about Chalabiís association with the channel. is it a maneuver to give the channel a faÁade of independence in order to facilitate its spread in the Arab world?

In an interview with al-Akhbar, Konbor denied that Asia channel would be strictly Iraqi. "Itís an Arabic news channel that addresses Arabic affairs and covers developments in the Middle East," clarified Konbor.

Konbor revealed the channelís programing, declaring that its social, economic and political shows would be innovative and would hold a lot of surprises."We will include political-sports segments which reveal the tight-knit bond between these two fields," Konbor said.

The channelís manager explained that it will not hesitate to expose corruption in the Arab world and reveal political and economic partiesí involvement in suspicious deals.

On a political level, he promised to support "democracy and all the Arabic revolutions, and we will present all points of view."

Konbor also confirmed that the channel will tackle Iraqi affairs "since Iraq is one of the biggest countries in the Arab world and the only one that shares a border with Iran. Thus, Iraq plays a prominent role in the region."

Moreover, the channel will treat Palestinian affairs in a "clear" way. "We will defend the rights of the Palestinian people," affirmed Konbor.

Nevertheless, the general manager of Asia channel refrained from answering whether the channel will make contact with Israeli officials, as is the case with Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya channels. "It is too early to disclose such details," Konbor said.

Beirut was chosen for the new start-upís location because Lebanon "is an open-minded country with a wide margin of freedom," according to Kondor. "Recently, Beirut has turned into the capital of Arabic media; moreover, Beirut has unique media and art cadres," he continued, adding, "getting in and out of Beirut is an easy matter that does not require difficult transactions and paperwork."

The channel promised that it will be competitive and vowed that it will support the popular uprisings in the region. Such a venture might require substantial funding, but that seems to be covered. Konbor said that the channelís "shareholders are businessmen from different Arab nationalities."

Beirut has recently been witnessing an unprecedented spike in the media industry after years of media recession. Several new Arabic satellite channels have taken Beirut for their headquarters and will start broadcasting soon in order to cover the events and constant developments in the region.

Al Mayadeen channel will go on air soon while preparations are being made for to fit out Alyasariyya TVs studios.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


:: Article nr. 83241 sent on 19-nov-2011 20:55 ECT


:: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website.

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