Iran-Interlink – The following article is a critique by Samet Vata of a summer school organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies (AIIS) as part of the NATO Summit in London. The article is Google translated into English.
In relation to MEK, Vata criticises statements by interim American ambassador in Albania, David Muniz. Muniz first says that Iran was in breach of the JCPOA, which it wasn’t. He then blames Iran for ‘exporting radicalism which scares Europe and the Balkans’. Vata explains that US foreign policy “forced” Albania to host 3000 Mojahedin Khalq terrorist extremists, thus imposing a direct security risk on Albania. Thus, Albania should accept that MEK is a problem for Albania’s relations with Iran because MEK threatens the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Based on an announcement by National Coordinator of the Office for Violent Extremism, Agron Sojati, Vata believes this risk would be extended by the arrival in Albania of 6,000 ISIS terrorists from Syria. Participants in the summer school were confused when Sojati said the numbers were exaggerated but that Albania ‘should be prepared to shelter terrorists who come from the war in Syria’. Vata questions how they will be dealt with, asking ‘will they be left alone and given a camp as we have done with MEK?’
The Albanian Institute for International Studies is unilateral in the issue of radicalism
from Gazeta Impakt – By: Samet Vata – July 14, 2018
Within the NATO Summit in London, a summer school was organized by the Albanian Institute for International Studies, AIIS, regarding the security environment in the Western Balkans, part of which I was also. The purpose of the school was to inform the strategy that the Atlantic Alliance (NATO) has in the Balkans region, especially Albania, and to build a tense reality of the “danger” of violent extremism.
So things are fine. But when you look at the articulations of the referral characters in this summer school, two ideas are built on the head. First, because of the internal problems the Atlantic Alliance does not have a unified policy for dealing with the Western Balkans. Second, these internal issues require to motivate them with extreme radicalism, which is attempting to undermine the order in the Balkans. This is like dictatorship, which sometimes failed in its ideology, blame for capitalism, but in this case the danger comes from the “dictators” and “imperialists” of the Near, Middle, and Far East. Briefly, Albania and NATO are facing three concrete dangers: Russian economic expansion, Turkish neo-Ottomanism, and “radicalism” in the breeding countries.
At the opening session of the school was the former Defense Minister, Mimi Kodheli, who in her opinion stated that Russia was a real danger for Albania, as her offensive geo-politics also enabled the election result to be changed in favor of the current president Trump. So, if the US that is superpower is vulnerable to Russia, this should make us more alert and cautious to the Albanians in the reports that we are building on the state level, but also in the ideological framework with such countries. Being vigilant and caring will serve to preserve the current stability in the Balkans, she said. Kodheli. We can do this by talking to one another, sharing our thoughts, treating these things together. So united to withstand the risk. She closed her conversation with an expression of John Lennon “Give Peace a Chance”. But I have the impression that such a risk is more cluttered than real and all this story is nothing more than an excuse to justify the sanctions against Russia. The head of Russian diplomacy Lavrov recently said that Russia is not an enemy, but a friend of Europe, and the latter must leave the spirit that has remained since the Cold War. It is true that peace should be given an opportunity, but objectively treated who is hindering this.
Of particular importance in the summer school was the speech of the interim American ambassador in Albania, David Muniz, who replaces the ambassador to fleeing LU until the appointment of the new ambassador. Muniz said Trump’s coming to power has caused little fear because of statements and controversial behavior that the latter had on his domestic and foreign policies. He said that despite these strong statements that Trump has given about withdrawing US from NATO, it is certain that the role of the United States in the alliance is definitely unchanged and there is no discussion of a second case in Brex. Alongside this, the ambassador said that two of the factors that, apart from Russia, are extending their influence on the Balkans, are Turkey and Iran. Turkey, Muniz said, is pursuing a controversial policy with regard to the Alliance and its heart seems to be no longer beheaded by NATO. It has never happened that a NATO member country has bought sophisticated weapons from a non-member country and this has caused a major debate within member states that Turkey does not have to sell more NATO armaments. The case is about buying the Russian S-400 anti-tank system. But I think the ambassador’s word is somewhere else. The US finds it hard to accept Turkey as a self-determining factor in domestic politics and the region as Turkey has been knocking on EU gates for a long time and has been inferior to US supremacy in the region. I say this because another member of the alliance, Greece, has its anti-missile S-300 system in its arsenal, which is an older version of these weapons that Turkey wants to buy. Western powers find it difficult to admit that Turkey, which has always been used as a flesh in the Middle East conflicts, is fleeing from your hands and pursuing a policy that is in line with its domestic interests in the first place, but on the other hand increases the influence and dominance of the Muslim factor in the region.
With regard to Iran, Mr. Muniz said that the withdrawal of the Trump administration from the nuclear pact with Iran was a move to a certain extent, though the deal was very good. That is because Iran has repeatedly violated certain points of the deal by expanding its nuclear activity and producing dangerous weapons for the stability of the region. He also said that Iran is a country that is exporting radicalism and this scares much Europe, but also the Balkans, which are below its range of action. For this reason, Albanian politics and citizens must also give up relations with such dangerous places.
The ambassador is right when he says Iran is exporting radicalism, but not by his will. The ambassador must know very well that his country’s foreign policy “forced” the Albanian state to import over 3000 Iranian mujahideen of the terrorist organization MEK. So, Albania is really endangered by Iranian radicalism, but this is not to blame for the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Balkans, but as a consequence of the US mid-term interests and as a consequence of the government of Albania’s handling of security issues. Perhaps we should be given a fair share of our country’s interest in the Islamic Republic of Iran, because this Albanian-dominated military group (MEK) directly risks the security of their country.
Seminars were also discussed about the Syrian refugee crisis. National Coordinator of the Office for Violent Extremism Agron Sojati launched his announcement saying that “a rumor is circulating as if 600,000 terrorists are expected to come alive in Albania” and immediately after that made the interpretation of this rumor saying that the numbers are in fact little hyperbolized, though their number will be reduced. According to Agron Soyati, we should be prepared to shelter terrorists who come from the war in Syria in our country that may be the cause of destabilization in the country. But this sentence of Mr. Sojate in some ways confused the participants in the summer school. On one side, Albania seeks to fight the violent radicalism, but on the other hand do we radical shelter? How will Albania behave with the radicals of ISIS going to Albania? Will we leave it in the camp as if we have left the MEK radicals?
Another element I would like to mention from the summer school discussions is the conversation of the executive director of the Albanian Media Institute, Remzi Lani. Among other things Lani said Russia is one of the third factors that are seeking influence in the Balkans not for geo-strategic purposes, but with the sole purpose of alerting and breaking the tranquility of the EU and NATO, while China has only economic intent on its part. He said that the EU’s last EU summit noted a weak will for further enlargement of the Union and that the Berlin process is nearing the end. Regarding Turkey, Lani used tougher and extremist tones. He said Turkey is not a country from which we should take the example of democracy or state leadership, as democracy has died in Turkey. Erdogan with his policy carries a dangerous Islamic agenda that affects the security of our country. However, Turkish investment and their success in the economy should welcome and take the lead – he says. In short, Mr. Lani says that the bread we eat is turkey, and the duet we have. I do not know why Mr. Lani says Turkey has no democracy when in the last election the turnout was much higher than in many EU countries or even the US. In addition, it has not been seen in any dictatorial country to become a democratic election, and the opposition mayor accepts the defeat and welts the winner, as Muharrem Ince did a month ago. In addition, Mr. Lani should be well aware that in the Western ambience there is a great debate about liberal democracy as a model of governance, as it has shown a lack of stability and security of its citizens. This is also noted in the electoral elections of EU countries, which are seeing an increase in left and right extremist electorates. Hungary and Austria are increasingly applying strong politics, the first refusing refugees because they are Muslims, and the second is closing the mosque with the justification that they endanger stability in the country. On the other hand, Trump raises walls with neighboring countries and forbids the entry of citizens of some Muslim countries and this is not seen as a violation of democratic principles, but as security issues. Also, Mr. Lani must bear in mind that we Albanians are a Muslim majority, and the stability that Turkey has shown in its model of regulating religious life should be taken as an example of us, which was also highlighted by Ergys Muzhaqi- expert on security in the country. The Albanian government and civil society must understand that religion (in this case Islam) is auxiliary and contributory to the secularity of the country and to give up once and for all from an atheistic mindset that sees religion as a danger.
Lastly, I would like to conclude with a critique linked to an AIIS study on religious radicalism. In the study that was presented at the seminar, it was noted that although the topic was related to the problems brought by extremist and religiously rooted radicalism, the study represented only “Islamic radicalism” and methods to prevent or cure it. After a replica made with the preparers of the study where I suggested that here the risks of Catholic extremists or other missionaries of the other religions are of a higher degree, I realized that the studies made a portion of their information hold confidential and only specific sections of the studies are presented.
I have also felt this problem in seminars organized by other institutes who are willing to present the risk of “Islamic radicalism” at all costs and present it as a present fact among our society. Europeans should have a standard of extremism and radicalism if they want to establish stability. When speaking of anti-extremism measures, all kinds of extremism must be taken into account, starting with the mass-propagating Catholic in Europe and all other types. When Turkey as a NATO member states that terrorist organizations like FETO operate in Albania, or when our government hosts the MEK, this should be looked at with seriousness and work to resolve these issues, unlike the way in which the word of the Turkish state has fallen into the deaf ears, believe that we have double standards. When Catholic radicalism violates the public sphere, serious measures must be taken to cure this problem. If double policies are to continue, balances will break down in the region and credibility with the international factor will come down.
I think that this policy will have a boomerang effect, which instead of solving it will create unresolved problems in our public sphere. Building a tense environment that feeds fear, xenophobia, Islamophobia and religious radicalism makes society feel less secure and more in panic. Albania is a European country with Ottoman culture and heritage and this should be taken into account in order to maintain the balance and the current fragile peace.
Iran Interlink reporting from Gazeta Impakt, Tirana Albania,