The seizure of a dozen nuns and lay workers from the Syrian village of Maaloula last year re-emerged as a news item over the weekend with the posting of a new video of the “guests” of Syrian rebels.
Al-Jazeera broadcast what it claimed was the latest exclusive evidence of how the women are faring, presumably to counter recent rumors that they might have been moved to a new location.
But the latest chapter in this saga only recalls how sordid the entire story is. Regional parties such as Qatar and Turkey have regularly been linked to efforts to free hostages held in Syria, such as the more than yearlong captivity of Lebanese Shiites who were on their way back to Lebanon after a religious pilgrimage to Iran.
One can only wonder about the reasons behind Al-Jazeera’s ability to air such footage, while parent state Qatar is unable to secure the nuns’ release. Such acts of hostage taking do little to advance the struggle to achieve political change in Syria. Instead, they focus attention on the regional parties that back certain rebel groups and the naked political and other interests of such foreign parties, which claim that they are helping the Syrian people.
The average person who follows the Syria crisis is fully aware of this vulgar level of political action, which ends up diverting attention from horrific crimes and atrocities taking place nearly every day.
Expressions of concern and promises of action by regional powers that have influence with kidnappers don’t fool anyone. People know that money and political demands are at stake, but in the end, the reputation of all sides concerned is what suffers, along with the victims of such acts.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 11, 2014, on page 7.