Iran leader targets Albania amid growing US-Iran conflict

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 10, 2020 09:46

Iran leader targets Albania amid growing US-Iran conflict

Story Highlights

  • Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Wednesday that Albania is not a devilish country, but a democratic country that has suffered from an unprecedented devilish dictatorship and has come to value human rights as sacred.

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TIRANA, Jan. 4 – Albania backed the US attack that led to the assassination of Iran’s most powerful general, Qassem Soleiman, on the first days of January 2020, leading Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei to mention the country as a “very small but devilish European state, where Americans cooperate with Iranian traitors against the Islamic Republic.” 

His comments referred to the main Iranian opposition group Mojahedin-e-Khalq, which Albania first hosted in 2013, after making a deal with the US government. 

Albanian President Ilir Meta said on Wednesday that Albania is not a devilish country, but a democratic country that has suffered from an unprecedented devilish dictatorship and has come to value human rights as sacred.

“The missiles fired by Iran on two Iraqi military bases that house US military and coalition personnel are a provocative move with dangerous consequences for the region and its stability. Iran must respect international agreements, international laws and their obligations in the interest of peace,” Meta wrote on Twitter, speaking of the reciprocation attacks Iran launched in response to the US move that killed one of its main generals. 

For two decades, Albania remains firm in its commitments alongside the US and NATO countries in the fight against international terrorism and any act that endangers world stability and peace, he wrote.

On Wednesday, as the growing tension between Iran and the US brought both of its leaders to come in front of their people and speak of the conflict, Albania was also involved by Khamenei, who mentioned the country during his speech. 

“It is a very small but very evil European country, where American elements cooperate with Iranian traitors and plan against the Islamic Republic. And the plan they had was clear, with the protests being held in Iran, after some of those traitors came to Iran to protest. Enemy agents began implementing the plan to sabotage, kill and destroy both our government and our constitution,” Khamenei was quoted saying by local media. 

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, where he is expected to speak before the OSCE Permanent Council tomorrow, in his capacity as head of the organization, Prime Minister Edi Rama said the presence in Albania of over 3,000 mujahideen, also known as the opposition of the Iranian regime does not specifically expose its country in these moments of fierce conflict between Iran and the United States of America.

Speaking to reporters in Vienna, where he was to speak before the OSCE Permanent Council on Thursday in his capacity as head of the organization, Prime Minister Edi Rama said the presence in Albania of over 3,000 mujahideen does not specifically expose the country in these moments of fierce conflict.

“This is a topic and an issue that is not new to us in relation to Iran. We have taken an action that honors Albania in line with the Albanian tradition, in the wake of a non-negotiable strategic alliance with the United States, to welcome or open the doors to a group of people whose life is at risk. And as it is written in the agreement that we have made that they are in Albania as a result of a humanitarian, not political, operation,” explained Rama.

 

Albania supports US attack on Iran 

Through a status on Twitter, Prime Minister Edi Rama stressed on Friday evening that “as a country that recently recognized Iran’s ominous activity against the free world and clearly distanced itself from it, Albania cannot but strongly approve of US President Donald Trump’s stand against a fierce activist of the Tehran regime,” Rama wrote, stressing that “we stand firm with the US and hope everyone does so.”

Earlier, the opposition’s Democratic Party had also expressed support for the “US engagement in the war on terror.” 

Trump’s decision to crack down on one of the architects and executives of terrorist activities is a strong act of leadership and protection of democratic values ​​and peace,” a twitter post of the main opposition force said, underlining that “at any given time, it stands by the US.” 

Albania has itself been at the center of terrorist activities organized by Iran, due to hosting the Mojahedin-e-Khalq. 

 

Gov’t identifies members of alleged Iranian terrorist group 

Last October, Albanian police announced that they have discovered the scheme of operation and have identified members of an Iranian terrorist cell aimed at carrying out attacks on the Iranian opposition movement Mojahedin-e-Khalq (Mec), with over 2,000 members of its members having taken refuge in the Albanian territory.

Albanian Police Director General Ardi Veliu said that “terrorist cells are also responsible, among other things, for the March 2018 plan to carry out a terrorist act during the celebrations of the Nevruz Holiday, attended by high-level members of the Iranian opposition organization Mujahedeen al Khalq (MEK), a plan that was prevented by increased State Police measures, thanks to accurate information.”

According to Albanian police, “the terrorist cell is run by the QUDS Forces operative, known as Peynam, a permanent resident of Iran, who remotely manages a number of operations in Albania and elsewhere in Central and Western Europe.”

Last December, Iran’s ambassador to Albania and one more embassy diplomat were expelled from Albania. 

The foreign ministry reported at the time that “the two Iranian diplomats were declared unwanted after being suspected of being involved in activities that threaten security in the country. The decision to declare Iranian diplomats undesirable – the Albanian Foreign Ministry further clarified – was taken in consultation with the Allied countries because of their activity in Albania in violation of their diplomatic status.

 

Albania-Iran relations strained by mujahedin presence in the country 

One of the main obstacles in the Albania-Iran relationship is the presence of about 3,000 members of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran (PMI) organization in Albania.

The resistance movement is considered a terrorist group by the Iranian government. But Albania took them in as a humanitarian gesture at the request of the United States, because the now demilitarized group was stuck in Iraq in dire conditions.Albania was the only country to accept the PMI members, part of a 2013 agreement made with the United States. The move jeopardized Albania’s relations with Iran and it created tension and nervousness in Tehran, aggravating the already minimal relations between the two countries.

For Albania, it was an unequivocal decision to accept the Iranian mujahedeen, keeping in line with Albania’s foreign policy orientation towards the United States.

The Iranian resistance and political group People’s Mujahedin of Iran was classified until some years ago as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1979, it has conducted hundreds of terrorist acts in Iran, according to that country’s government.

Researchers at the Albanian Institute for International Studies say that for Albania it is very important to maintain its close relations with the United States, but this should be done in meaningful areas. Albania should find other ways to further and strengthen its relations with the United States, according to AIIS, not just take risks by taking responsibilities when there is no other country to bear the weight just to make a good impression in Washington.

 

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times January 10, 2020 09:46