Romania has three hostages in Iraq. They're journalists, and they went to Iraq on a reporting trip -- one of them interviewed Prime Minister Allawi, the day before they were kidnapped -- and they got grabbed on March 28. So this has been a continuing story in Romania for the last two weeks. Romania participates in the occupation of Iraq. There are about 850 Romanian soldiers there -- one full battalion, with the catchy name of "The Red Scorpions",deployed in the Al-Nasyria area -- and this number was scheduled to rise to about 1000 by the end of this year. It probably still will. The involvement in Iraq is not particularly popular in Romania; a recent poll showed 55% of Romanians indifferent or opposed. Nevertheless, President Basescu has said that the Romanian troops will remain "until democracy is established". Former PM Nastase said much the same thing, so it appears that support for Romania's participation crosses party lines. Why? Well, Romania places a high value on the security relationship with the US. (A cynic might suggest that they're keeping up the payments on their national security insurance policy.) The numbers involved are not large, and no Romanian soldiers have been killed yet, so up until now it hasn't seemed like a very expensive investment on Romania's part. So, while there's not much popular support, the political class is pretty solidly behind it. One interesting effect of this is that by the end of this year, Romania may be the fourth largest coalition partner in Iraq, after the US, Britain and South Korea. Back to the hostages: there are some weird aspects to the case. It's still not clear who kidnapped them. They were accompanied by a fourth person, an Arab-American who may also have had Romanian citizenship (or maybe not); it's not clear what his involvement is. A videotape of the hostages surfaced; it has some peculiarities (like, hostage guards who don't seem to know how to hold their guns) that make some people wonder if the whole thing is some sort of set-up. As to what happens next... it's really not clear. More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq over the past year. (Many more Iraqis, of course.) Most have been freed after negotiations or payment of ransom, but about a third have been killed. More on this when there is more.