Qatar and Iran poised to exchange 26 kidnapped royals for towns in Syria and millions of dollars

In the early hours of December 16, 2016, a Qatari hunting party of 26 — many of them from the country’s ruling Thani tribe — were abducted by Shi’ite gunmen in the Samawa desert in Iraq close to the border with Saudi Arabia. Like other wealthy citizens from the Arab Gulf states, the men had ventured into Iraq to hunt with falcons despite the increasingly hostile armed militia presence in the area. Locals blamed Qatar and its wealthy neighbours for funding Sunni militias, many of them linked to al-Qaeda. More than a year later, Middle East power brokers Qatar and Iran are expected to seal a deal that will see the hunting party fly home. In return, Sunni fighters that are besieging Shi’ite cities



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