After 16 long, and quiet months, the 24 Qataris, including 2 of the Royal Family, were released on Friday 21st April 2017.
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Al-Thani greets the freed men at the airport on Friday evening
Details regarding the deal that brokered the deal is predictably sparse, with media sources referring to “complex regional deal linked to the Syrian civil war”. The Qataris were part of a hunting party that were captured in Iraq in December 2015 after being attacked by a alleged militia with ties to Tehran.
CNN claims that the hostages were released thanks to a partly Qatari brokered deal to evacuate four besieged towns in Syria,
An unnamed source denied that the Syrian deal was in anyway linked to the release of the hostages, adding:
“In regards to the four towns agreement in Syria, Qatar has sponsored negotiations since the beginning of 2015,” the source told CNN’s Becky Anderson. “It’s completely humanitarian and has nothing to do with Qatari hostages in Iraq.”
Meanwhile Al-Jazeera, wholly owned by the Qatari government, quoted a source close to the negotiations saying that their release was again, part of a bigger regional deal that combined both evacuations and the release of prisoners.
What actually happened? Which prisoners were released?
Perhaps time will tell.