Qatar has “negotiated” (paid the ransom?) for the release of 45 Fijian UN peacekeepers deployed in Golan Heights being held by Nusra Front, Syria’s Al Qaeda branch.
Oddly, one of the (presumably unmet) demands reported by the Fijian troops was that Nusra Front wants to be de-listed as a terrorist organization…which, you know, is a tough sell when you’ve just kidnapped United Nations troops and held them for ransom. Nusra Front is a member of the disparate assembly of Sunni Arab rebel forces opposing both ISIS and Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s three-way civil war. They are likely to benefit inadvertently from President Obama’s and Congress’s proposed increase of weapons and funding for anti-ISIS/anti-Assad forces.
In related news, Philippines peacekeepers who had refused to surrender at two separate locations on the same day the Fijian troops were captured managed to break out successfully, with some help from Irish peacekeepers. The UN forces are stationed permanently in Golan Heights, between the Israeli-occupied zone and the Syrian zone, in an arrangement implemented in 1974. The increasing active danger due to the Syrian civil war, including these hostage episodes, has prompted a number of peacekeeper-supplying nations to withdraw or consider withdrawing their troops from Golan Heights.