The obsession by the Iranian regime to exterminate any dissenting Iranian opinions reached into the Balkan nation of Albania, resulting in the expulsion of two Iranian diplomats who were tied into an alleged plot to attack an Iranian dissident group that has long plagued the mullahs with calls for democratic reform and political freedom.
Albanian officials decided to kick out Iran’s ambassador to that country and another diplomat for “violating their diplomatic status” in another unfolding chapter in the Iranian regime’s ongoing vendetta against any Iranian dissidents.
According to reporting by The Independent, a source with knowledge of the matter said the expulsions were connected to an aborted March 2018 scheme by two alleged Iranian members of the Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force, its foreign secret operations branch, caught planning “an explosive” attack against the base or personnel of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, or MEK.
Tirana’s move follows diplomatic rebukes of Iran by Denmark, France, and Netherlands amid allegations of using diplomatic facilities to carry out alleged terrorist operations targeting dissidents living in Europe, including the MEK and Arab exile groups.
In France, an annual gathering of the MEK and related human rights and dissident groups was being held outside Paris and was apparently targeted for a similar explosive device before being stopped by security forces in the Netherlands.
US officials on Wednesday praised the decision by the NATO country to expel the diplomats. US National Security Adviser John Bolton wrote in a Tweet that the move signaled to Iranian leaders that “their support for terrorism will not be tolerated.”
President Trump thanked Prime Minister Edi Rama in a letter for his “steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe,” according to the U.S. Embassy in Tirana.
Predictably Iranian regime officials denied any plot and tried to portray the expulsions as an effort by the U.S. to pressure Albania as part of its ongoing sanctions movement as a result of pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
Iranian officials even trotted out the old charge that Bolton had previously spoken at MEK events and was therefore unable to be an impartial party on the issue. A silly charge to make considering this is now the third attempt the regime has mounted in the past year to kill MEK members on foreign soil.
But close observers of Iran describe a resurgence of clandestine operations across Europe and elsewhere targeting Iranian dissident groups. Others have noted Iran’s burgeoning efforts to establish clandestine networks in the Balkans. Albania in particular has a Bektashi religious minority with ties to the Shia branch of Islam practiced as the official religion in Iran.
“What’s happening in Albania has only proved how big Tehran’s networks in the Balkans are,” Ruslan Trad, a researcher and journalist focusing on Iranian influence in the Balkans, told The Independent.
The MEK in Albania were re-located from refugee camps in Iraq after being consistently targeted by Iranian intelligence agents in a series of attacks killing scores of unarmed men and women, with the help of Iranian-controlled Iraqi Shiite militias who subsequently fueled a sectarian conflict in Iraq and fought in the Syrian civil war on the side of protecting the Assad regime.
Past media coverage of the MEK compound – fueled by innuendo by the Iran lobby – criticized the heavily fortified nature of the facilities there for MEK members and tried to cast the group as cult-like in its security preparations.
In light of these most recent efforts at bombings, those precautions now seem not only prudent, but life-saving.
The MEK has drawn the particular ire of the mullahs in Tehran for its long history of revealing secrets such as the existence of the previously secret Iranian nuclear program, as well as the recent surge in protests by Iranians over depressed economic conditions and rampant corruption within the government through smuggled pictures and videos.
Most worrisome is the fact that the MEK represents an alternative voice to the regime in Tehran. The existence of any dissident voice among fellow Iranians is a galling sore point for the regime which demands near total obedience and a cult-like adherence to the whims of the supreme mullah, Ali Khamenei.
The growing strength of the protest movement within Iran among ordinary, working-class Iranians has worried the regime as it has worked to try and put down the demonstrations.
Furious Iranian steelworkers in the city of Ahvaz in oil-rich Khuzestan province, southwest Iran, are continuing to strike in defiance of President Hassan Rouhani’s brutal regime, according to The Express.
Earlier this week, dozens of workers were arrested during raids to their homes, as they pleaded for their basic human rights. But the protests continued and workers chanted: “Imprisoned workers should be freed.” The demonstrations took place despite the heavy presence of security forces attempting to thwart freedom of expression and intimidate the demonstrators.
The ultimate fear of the regime is that the MEK could become an active political force within Iran and marshal the disgruntled Iranian people in a serious challenge to the mullahs rule.
As long as the MEK exists, the mullahs will continue their efforts to attack it.