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.

 

France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Syria donors fall short of UN target without US aid

Same family names in Lebanon election

Turkey jails opposition daily journalists

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Western powers dismiss claim that Syria chemical attack was staged

US defense secretary says 'no decision' yet on Iran deal

Israel flash floods leave several young people missing

Highs and lows in Egypt’s Operation Sinai

416 donors to IS identified in France

Five migrants die trying to cross Mediterranean

Rights architects nominated for UK art prize

In Iraq's Anbar, election offers chance to settle scores

Philippines demands explanation after Kuwait expels ambassador

UK ‘seeking information’ over British-Iranian’s arrest

Macron says Trump may pull out of Iran nuclear deal

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict