First Published: 2005-05-24

 
Romania's Arabs hailed for role in securing hostages' release
 

Union of Romanian Arabs managed to contact kidnappers, paving way for fruitful negotiations.

 

Middle East Online

Romanian journalists with their guide before the release

BUCHAREST - Romania's Arab community won praise here Tuesday for playing a key role in securing the release of three journalists after an eight-week hostage ordeal in Iraq.

The newspaper Evenimentul Zilei said the Arab community "held the key to freedom" for the three journalists who were kidnapped on March 28 and returned home to an emotional welcome in Romania on Monday night.

"Since President Traian Basescu says that he did not compromise his foreign policy or agree to pay a ransom, the Arab community could have played an important role in their release," it added.

"They have been suspected of having links with terrorists and accused of shady dealings, but Romania's Arabs played an important role, especially early in the crisis, by paving the way for negotiations" with the kidnappers, said political analyst Cristian Parvulescu.

"Though obviously, questions remain about their actual role, the circumstances and the reasons why they intervened," he added.

Initially, the kidnapping caused tension between the authorities in Bucharest and the country's rich and influential Arab community, which counts about 1,000 Iraqis.

Romania's Arabs cried foul when prosecutors announced a clampdown on Arab businessmen suspected of fraud and tax evasion shortly after the journalists disappeared.

The Romanian press has asked why the Arab community mobilised itself so strongly to secure their release and on Monday night it was suggested in a debate on TVR national television that they may have done so in exchange for an undertaking from the government to leave them in peace.

Mohamad Zassin, a businessman and president of the Union of Romanian Arabs, said he was directly involved in negotiations with the kidnappers, a group calling themselves the Muadh Ibn Jabal Brigade.

"Our first contact with the kidnappers was very difficult but we helped the Romanian authorities throughout the negotiations to secure the freedom of Marie-Jeanne Ion, Sorin Miscoci, Eduard Ohanesian and their guide Mohamed Munaf," he said.

In Baghdad on Monday, a top adviser at the Romanian embassy who supervised the negotiations, credited the breakthrough to an intervention by four Romanian Muslim clerics headed by Fares al-Lakta, who chairs the Romanian Islamic and Cultural League.

"This release is the result of a call by the Islamic authorities of Romania, who deployed tremendous efforts to make their voice heard," Octavian Harseu said.

 

Iran forces inside Iraq as Abadi rules out foreign ground intervention!

Qaeda inflicts heavy losses on Huthi rebels in central Yemen

Kerry seeks help of Southeast Asia in anti-Islamic State push

Turkey gives Iraq Peshmerga forces passage to Kobane

Cultural heartland of Al Ain hosts night of Emirati musical heritage

South Sudan rivals meet in new bid to end civil war

From Morocco into Spain: Crowd of African migrants charges to border fence

Deadly suicide attack targets Shiite mosque in central Baghdad

Israel to supply Egypt with natural gas despite sabotage

US carries out first weapon airdrops to Kurd fighters near Kobane

Benghazi violence kills 75 people in five days

Morocco accuses Algeria of firing on civilians across border

Australia finalises deal for deployment of Special Forces to Iraq

Tunisia calls on Libya authorities to locate missing journalists

Turkey rejects calls to arm ‘terrorist’ Kurdish party in Syria

Western powers threaten sanctions against hostile actors in Libya

New deadly terrorist attack targets Egypt army in Sinai

‘Islamic State’ suffers heavy losses in Syria battleground of Kobane

After full formation of Iraq government, time comes to visit Iran

UN appeals for four-day truce in Western Libya

Gaza tunnel collapses before demolition: At least 3 Egypt soldiers dead

Erdogan begins one-day visit to Afghanistan

After weeks of delay, Iraq gets new security ministers

Diplomats scold Turkey over ambiguous relation with Islamic State

Lebanon pleads for Iran military aid to fight Islamic State

Kurds repulse new jihadist attempt to cut off Syria town

Huthi rebels meet fierce resistance in Yemen Sunni areas

Former Iraqi pilots train IS to fly Syria fighter jets

Two Millstones Drowning America into Premature Oblivion

Iraqi forces launch anti-IS operation north of Tikrit

Ben Ali cohorts planning comeback in Tunisia polls

Battle for Libya's Benghazi heats up

Kurdish fighters still holding out in Syria's Kobane

Russia denies agreed with US on IS intelligence-sharing

Saudi’s National Commercial Bank to offer $3.6 billion IPO

Qaeda counters advancing rebels with Yemen town seizure

Iran warns Saudi cleric death sentence could escalate tensions

No breakthrough in US-Iran intense nuclear talks

Kuwait ends decades of diesel, kerosene subsidies

US airstrikes ‘push back’ IS in Kobane

New desperate attempt to reach Europe: Hundreds storm Morocco-Spain border

Turkey Kurdish party plans talks with armed PKK rebels in Iraq

Iraq beats back ‘Islamic State’ assault on Ramadi

Saudi court sentences Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr to death

Iran nuclear talks: Search for elusive breakthrough begins