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 nuclear talks go into extra time

At least 15 soldiers in Egypt car bomb attack

Yemen rebels free 1,200 prisoners

Palestinian PM to make 'temporary' cabinet reshuffle

Gulf states urged to follow Kuwait on maid rights

20 civilians killed in rebel fire on Yemen's Aden

Negotiators extend deadline for Iran nuclear talks

‘Islamic State’ re-enters Syria border town of Tal Abyad

Defiant tourists stay in Tunisia

Deadly clashes rage on in eastern Libya

Only mobile phone company in Gaza closed by Hamas

Zarif keeps cards close to chest as he meets Kerry

Orange reaches deal with Israel's Partner after spat

Kuwait in ‘state of war’ after mosque suicide bombing

Iranians take to streets of Tehran to demand ‘good nuclear deal’

Turkey 'ready to help' Greece out of economic crisis

Sisi pledges tougher laws against militants after prosecutor killing

French prosecutor confirms IS link to factory beheading

Tunisia ‘was not prepared’ for beach massacre

Tunisia makes first beach massacre arrests

Tunisia attack set to wipe $500 million off economy

IS beheads two female ‘sorcerers’ in Syria

US resumes security aid to Bahrain

28 killed in IS attack on Huthi rebel leaders in Sanaa

Britons death toll in Tunisia attack to soar to 'around 30'

US official says method found for access to suspect Iran sites

Turkey holds top security meet

Israel to Syria rebels: 'Don't mess with the Druze'

Egypt state prosecutor dead after Cairo bomb attack

Iranians anxious as talks stumble

Qatar concedes 'much more needs to be done' on labour law

'Unprecedented situation' for Sudan's journalists

Egypt's state prosecutor injured in bomb attack

UAE woman sentenced to death for killing US teacher

Israel escorts flotilla defying Gaza blockade

Islamic State 'caliphate' enters second year with more bloodshed

Tunisia to arm tourist police after Sousse attack

Repatriation of two Tunisians once held by CIA

Key confidante of Syria president dies of illness

Libya rival factions sit at same table for first time

Students may have left Sudan for ‘Islamic State’

Tense nuclear talks set to go beyond deadline as differences remain

Kuwait names Saudi man as suicide bomber in mosque attack

Armed police swarm streets of Tunisia beach resorts

Turkey wants more walls on border with Syria