Chrobog: I will visit Yemen again [Archives:2006/908/Front Page]

January 2 2006

ADEN, Dec. 1st ) New Year's gift presented to the German family kidnapped in Shabowa on Wednesday was their freedom. Former German minister and retired diplomat Mr. Jurgen Chrobog, his wife, Magda, and their three children were released on Saturday and are now staying at the Sheraton Hotel in Aden. After having an exciting holidaym the German family flew back home yesterday.

“We were treated well by the tribesmen, and we are fine” Ms. Magda Chrobog expressed in more than one occasion since their release. Mr. Chrobog even declared that he is considering coming back to Yemen again and that he is grateful for the concern the Yemeni and German authorities have given his case.

The release came as a relief after the negotiation process between the tribal people and the Yemeni authorities lead by Yemen's defence minister faltered. The five tribesmen of al-Abduallah tribe are now being interrogated by government security. Their demands to free five tribesmen jailed on criminal charges including murder are not met yet, but are being considered by the Yemeni authorities handling the issue within the next 45 days according to the agreement signed between the Yemeni authorities and the tribesmen. In case those tribal figures were not successful in their mediation for availing their demands, the court of law will be the ultimate reference, the agreement said.Residents said government forces have surrounded the area where the tribesmen live. However, no force was used in the release of the abducted people. Sources among the Abdullah tribesman said they would release the hostages only based on the promises given by the government. But they warned the government of serious consequences if it did not deliver.

Yemeni tribes throughout the country have opted to kidnapping tourists as means for exercising pressure on the government to fulfil certain requirements for the tribes. The demands range from release of imprisoned relatives to merely enhancing the infrastructure in the tribal area such as building schools or paving roads. The recent kidnappers in Shabwa had complained about lack of cooperation from the authorities in resolving their case and releasing imprisoned tribesmen handed to the authorities temporarily to resolve a 10-year-old tribal conflict with a rival tribe.

It is worth mentioning that in 2003, Chrobog himself led a delegation that negotiated the release of 14 tourists, including nine Germans, who were kidnapped in the Sahara desert and freed six months later by their captors in Mali. His wife, Magda Gohar-Chrobog, is a translator and the daughter of an Egyptian writer, Youssef Gohar.

On a similar front, the Yemen Council of Businessmen and Investors issued a press statement in which they condemned the wave of kidnapping that has been occurring in Yemen of late. The Council called on the government to protect the investors, tourist and foreign community in Yemen in order to create a better environment in the country. The press release came as a consequence of what was published in Al-Bilad newspaper on the 24th of last month. The article included threat to abduct relatives of businessmen over a land dispute.