Qatar played ‘pivotal role’ in freeing Curtis

August 27, 2014 - 2:34:34 am

DOHA: The Washington Post has said that Qatar played the “pivotal role” in securing the release of American journalist, Peter Theo Curtis, who had been missing in Syria for nearly two years. 

Qatar used its influence in the region to mediate in a number of issues and the release of Curtis was the latest, the daily said.

On Sunday, Curtis was turned over to United Nations officials in the Syrian-held portion of the Golan Heights, near Israel. 

His mother issued a statement saying she was “deeply grateful” for Qatar’s help, said the daily.

The US had exerted efforts to know the whereabouts of Curtis but Qatar’s positive relation with all parties concerned became instrumental in his release.

The Post quoted US officials as saying that Curtis was released following a direct request by his family for Qatari assistance.

After Qatar’s intervention and negotiations with parties close to those who detained Curtis, good information began to flow showing that he was going to be released soon.

Beyond the Middle East, Qatar facilitated peace talks between the US and the Taliban in Afghanistan that ended without success last year, said the daily.

This spring, Qatar helped arrange the exchange of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the only US service member held by the Afghan militants, for five Taliban detainees held in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 

Quoting Qatari officials, The Post said that Qatar’s contributions were the natural outgrowth of their belief in non-judgmental dialogue. 

In a statement, the Qatari Foreign Ministry cited its “relentless efforts” to secure Curtis’s release “out of Qatar’s belief in the principles of humanity and its keenness on the lives of individuals and their right to freedom and dignity”.

Qatar and others involved in Curtis’ release insist that no ransom was paid to the militants, and say that its leverage with the group resides to some degree in its willingness to deal with them. Whatever the source of its influence, Qatar played the pivotal role in winning Curtis’s freedom, said the daily.