The Albanian government expelled two Iranian diplomats on Thursday as concerns in Tirana are growing over the nation’s weakening independence and sovereignty under US dictates.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama decided to expel Iranian Ambassador Gholam Hossein Mohammadnia and another diplomat, as part of the US requests from Tirana that also include granting growing influence to the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO, also known as MEK, NCRI and PMOI) terrorist organization in Albania.
The move by the Albanian government came after months of warnings by Albanian activists and media about the growing influence of the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization among Tirana officials. The MKO and the White House had both requested the Albanian government to expel Iranian diplomats and cut off ties with Iran.
Daily Panorama quoted sources in Albania’s foreign ministry as saying that the “hard decision was taken by the prime minister in consultations and full coordination with the international allies”.
But a letter wrote to Rama on December 14 by US President Donald Trump indicated that the prime minister has not made the decision on his own, thanking the permier for “joint efforts”.
The letter released in the US embassy’s facebook page said that “we commend the Government of Albania for taking action against the Iranian regime” for what it called as its terrorist plotting on Albanian soil, threatening European security.
More surprisingly, the news on the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador from Albania was first declared by White House National Security Advisor John Bolton on twitter.
“Prime Minister Edi Rama of Albania just expelled the Iranian ambassador, signaling to Iran’s leaders that their support for terrorism will not be tolerated. We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behavior in Europe and across the globe,” Bolton wrote on Twitter.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also rushed to praise Rama, and pledged support to Albania for expelling the Iranian ambassador.
Later in the day, Albanian government acknowledged that the decision was prescribed by Israel and the US, saying that they have been receiving consultation from both Tel Aviv and Washington. The United States has long been pursuing a plan to turn Albania into the frontline of militancy against Iran.
Ever since their expulsion from Iraq, the MKO – a terrorist organization with a several-decade-long history that includes assassination of 12,000 Iranians and a number of foreign citizens – has found a strong foothold in Albania after US and Israeli official requests from Tirana to host the main camp of the terrorist group and embark on widening security cooperation with MKO. The Rajavi cult has been spending millions of dollars to buy influence among Albanian officials in the last few years.
The MKO had also asked the Albanian government to sever ties with Tehran in messages that increasingly appeared on its social media outlets in the last several weeks.
The MKO, founded in the 1960s, blended elements of Islamism and Stalinism and participated in the overthrow of the US-backed Shah of Iran in 1979. Ahead of the revolution, the MKO conducted attacks and assassinations against both Iranian and western targets.
The group started assassination of the citizens and officials after the revolution in a bid to take control of the newly-established Islamic Republic. It killed several of Iran’s new leaders in the early years after the revolution, including the then President, Mohammad Ali Rajayee, Prime Minister, Mohammad Javad Bahonar and the Judiciary Chief, Mohammad Hossein Beheshti who were killed in bomb attacks by the MKO members in 1981.
The group fled to Iraq in 1986, where it was protected by Saddam Hussein and where it helped the Iraqi dictator suppress Shiite and Kurd uprisings in the country.
The terrorist group joined Saddam’s army during the Iraqi imposed war on Iran (1980-1988) and helped Saddam and killed thousands of Iranian civilians and soldiers during the US-backed Iraqi imposed war on Iran.
Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, the group, which now adheres to a pro-free-market philosophy, has been strongly backed by neo-conservatives in the United States, who argued for the MKO to be taken off the US terror list.
The US formally removed the MKO from its list of terror organizations in September 2012, one week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent the US Congress a classified communication about the move. The decision made by Clinton enabled the group to have its assets under the US jurisdiction unfrozen and do business with the American entities, the State Department said in a statement at the time.
In September 2012, the last groups of the MKO terrorists left Camp Ashraf, their main training center in Iraq’s Diyala province. They have been transferred to Camp Liberty. Hundreds of the MKO terrorists have now been sent to Europe, where their names were taken off the blacklist even two years before the US.
The MKO has assassinated over 12,000 Iranians in the last 4 decades. The terrorist group had even killed large numbers of Americans and Europeans in several terror attacks before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
A sum of 17,000 Iranians have lost their lives in terror attacks in the 35 years after the Revolution.
After the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the MKO was exiled first to Iraq and then to Albania. Albania houses 3,000 MKO members.
Since last year, a slew of US politicians have visited the MKO in Albania, often without any public announcement, or under cover of meeting some Albanian politicians. These include former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, US Senator John McCain (who addressed a MKO conference), and a delegation of US Senators Thom Tillis, Roy Blunt, and John Cornyn.
A few months later, US Congressman Ted Poe introduced a bill in the House of Representatives calling upon the government of Iraq “to compensate the former residents of Camp Ashraf (the former MKO camp) for their assets seized by groups affiliated with the Government of Iraq.”
Media reports said in June 2018 that John Bolton received $40,000 to participate and address the audience in a gathering of the MKO terrorist group in Paris in July 2017.
According to documents released by al-Monitor news website, the US Public Financial Disclosure Report in January 2018 for Bolton indicated that he has received $40,000 from the MKO as speaking fee in Paris gathering.
The date of speaking is July 1, 2017, and the event was titled ‘Globe Events–European Iranian Events’.
Bolton had in the same date attended the MKO gathering in Paris, stressing during his address that the Islamic Republic should not be allowed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Revolution in Iran.
During his address, he said that Trump is fully opposed to the “regime in Tehran”.
“The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday,” Bolton said.
Recently, Joanne Stocker, of the US portal Defense Post, told NBC that Bolton had received more than $180,000 from the MKO to speak in their favor. Bolton’s office has so far refused to comment on it.