Career Suicide with Georges Kurdahi

Guest post by DaveM

Game show host Georges Kurdahi was the Arab world’s equivalent of Regis Philbin or Chris Tarrant as the face of Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire— and if he kept his mouth shut he still would be.

However AFP reports that his employers have cancelled his latest game show due to his open support for Bashar al Assad’s regime.

With the death toll from this regime estimated to be at least 2,000 and reports emerging of over 88 people having been killed in detention, including those tortured to death and those whose corpses showed signs of genital mutilation, it looks as if Georges Kurdahi’s TV career could be heading the same way as Michael Barrymore’s or Pee Wee Herman’s.

The influential Saudi media group MBC has blocked the transmission of a game show because of the overtly pro-Syrian regime views of its Lebanese star presenter, Georges Kordahi.

In a statement received by AFP on Sunday, the Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation said it had “taken this decision through respect for the feelings of the Syrian people.”

The Arabic-language version of the US show “You Deserve It” was to have been broadcast from September 10, and episodes had already been recorded.

Kordahi, one of the best known television presenters in the Arab world, had previously presented the Arabic-language version of the worldwide hit game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

The Internet site of the Al-Arabiya satellite channel, which belongs to the MBC group, said Kordahi had been targeted by social networks and in Arab media for his remarks on the pro-government Dunia channel and on pro-Syrian Lebanese stations.

In July, he had said that the wave of protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad was “a foreign conspiracy” and that the “Arab Spring” had “sown chaos across the Arab world,” the Al-Arabiya site said.

Kordahi’s name had been placed on the “list of shame” on the Internet of actors and media personalities who support despotic Arab regimes.

I haven’t been able to locate the clip mentioned in the AFP report; however here he is speaking to the same TV station Addounia in June of this year.

“By God, I mentioned in my speech that this is a major conspiracy taking place in Syria and against Syria. The media campaign which we are seeing on some Arabic satellite TV stations and also on some foreign ones, and that there is (also) a coordination between some of them both in the transmitting of news, and by hosting commentators, spokespeople, and activists as well as resorting to testimony of so-called eye witnesses or human rights activists and such like.

“This media campaign is part of the conspiracy, and (even) if someone doesn’t understand at all (what’s going on) but watches this organised media campaign then they’ll know that there is a conspiracy against Syria behind this campaign”.

(Graphic: “Syria is steadfast”)

Something I’ve just noticed is that even though he was born in Acre his surname literally means “someone from Qardaha,” which is the birthplace of Hafiz Al Assad. It’s probably just a coincidence. The fact that I’ve even noticed it means I really ought to get out more.

As the Syrian uprising continues and shows no sign of abating, it looks as if the Iranian regime is getting a bit nervous, and trying to cover itself in the event of Assad being toppled, by putting out feelers to the Syrian opposition.

Le Figaro broke the story (French) and Al Arabiya followed it up.

“Al Arabiya’s France correspondent reported that in the light on the current Syrian crisis Iranian diplomats met with Syrian opposition members in Paris and Vienna.

“One of the Syrian opposition representatives was cited as saying that the Iranian representatives were instructed to find out the size of the Syrian opposition delegations which are meeting with European and American officials.

“In addition to this finding out the Syrian opposition’s position on the resistance (i.e. Hizbullah) and its position on relations with Iran.

“Our correspondent reported that the Syrians requested from the Iranians Tehran’s involvement in order to protect the opposition members who will be taking part in the conference scheduled to take place in Damascus on 16th September. They also requested the necessity of Tehran either getting involved in order to protect Syrian civilians or taking a neutral position.

“Also the US Treasury ministry announced that the US has included the Syrian foreign minister Walid Mualem on the blacklist of people covered by the sanctions imposed on the regime in Damascus. The US Treasury’s decision includes the freezing of bank accounts which Mualem may own in the US. This measure also includes Bouthaina Shaaban, advisor to Bahsar Al Assad, and the Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul Karim, whose names are now on the American blacklist”.

My hunch is that the Syrian opposition is trying to force Tehran’s hand into publicly distancing itself from the Assad regime.

A lot of people inside and outside Syria suspect that the Iranian regime has been helping the Ba’athists violently put down the demonstrators, so in light of that, the opposition’s request that Tehran protect Syrian civilians or step aside is intended to send a message to Assad that he’s isolated and even his staunchest ally no longer sees a future with him in power.

Whether or not the Iranian regime will comply with that request remains to be seen. I for one doubt it very much. But then again I never in a million years ever thought the Syrians would rise up against the Ba’athist tyrants.