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.

 

Iraq dismisses US call for Iranian-backed militias to 'go home'

Opposition calls on Iraqi Kurd leader to step down

IS ‘executed’ 116 suspected of Syria regime collaboration

Israel arrests 51 Palestinians for ‘terror-related’ crimes

Greening the Camps brings food and hope to refugees

UNICEF says 1,100 children malnourished in Syria’s Ghouta

UN says Yemen children in desperate need of aid

Orthodox Jews block Jerusalem entrance in protest

Six terror suspects arrested in Morocco

EU announces 106 million euros in aid for Sudan

French judges to rule on whether 'Jihad' is acceptable name

Saudi Aramco chief confirms IPO despite doubts

Lack of accountability hinders governing in Morocco, analysts say

Sudan editor convicted after Bashirs accused of graft

Russia’s Lavrov urges Iraq-Kurd dialogue

Kurds to arrest 11 Iraqis in response to similar Baghdad move

Car bomb attack kills 9 in south Yemen military base

Rouhani boasts about Iran’s greatness in region

Iraq unrest highlights long-standing political divisions

Bahrain temporarily frees female activist

Egypt court sentences 11 people to death for 'terrorism'

Israel police arrest 15 over anti Jewish-Arab dating campaign

Tillerson woos Gulf allies to curb Iran influence

Abadi, Sadr meet in Jordan

No clear US strategy in Syria after Raqqa liberation

Tillerson pushes to undercut Iran at landmark Saudi, Iraq meeting

Gulf share values plummet

US-backed forces capture key Syria oil field

More than half of Austrians vote for anti-immigration party

Washington sees potential Hezbollah threat in the US

UN ends Libya talks with no progress made

Cairo killing sparks security concerns among Copts

Iraq PM arrives in Saudi to upgrade ties

35 Egyptian police killed in Islamist ambush

Morocco recalls Algeria envoy over 'hashish money' jibe

Ceremony marks 75 years since WWII Battle of El Alamein

Somalia attack death toll rises to 358

Long road ahead for families of jailed Morocco protesters

How Raqa recapture affects complex Syrian war

Israel hits Syrian artillery after Golan fire

Germany advances Israel submarine deal after corruption holdup

Bashir Gemayel's killer convicted, 35 years later

SDF hails 'historic victory' against IS in Raqa

Hamas delegation visits Iran

Turkish court orders release of teacher on hunger strike