The US Can Force Europe to Take a Tougher Stance Against Iran by Designating MOIS a Terror Organisation
Alarabiya published an opinion piece outlining the increasing international concern over Iran’s state-sponsored terrorist activities. 2018 has seen a surge in Iranian terrorism across the world as European authorities have foiled several terror plots and which were traced back to the Iranian regime leadership.
“If ISIS targeted people arbitrarily without any operation center in the EU, Iran’s regime uses its embassies to organize terrorist operations across Europe”, the piece said.
The most recent development was the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador to Albania and another high-level diplomat. Albania’s government cited increasing security threats as the reason for the expulsion.
In March, during the Persian New Year celebrations, two Iranian agents working for the Ministry of Intelligence (MOIS) were arrested for plotting a terror attack on Albanian soil. The attack’s target was members of the People’s Mujahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK) currently living in exile in a compound near the Albanian capital of Tirana.
Following the Albanian government’s decision to expel the diplomats, President Trump personally praised the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama. He thanked him for his “steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe.”
A Growing Operation
Prior to the MEK’s arrival on Albanian soil, the country was on the regime’s periphery. It had a small embassy in Tirana through which it managed diplomatic operations. However, since the MEK arrived in 2016 after fleeing regime attacks on its compounds in Iraq, the regime has expanded the Albanian embassy’s operations, “almost doubling the size and the number of staff”, according to Alarabiya.
In addition to expanding the building and hiring more staff, the regime sent an MOIS agent to the country as its ambassador and created a special section of the embassy devoted to planning attacks against the MEK and the Iranian opposition.
The regime’s activities in Albania have been a microcosm of a growing surge in terror activities in Europe. 2018 saw the foiled terror plot in Albania, a foiled terror attack in Paris in June, an assassination attempt against a political dissident in Denmark, and the arrest of two MOIS agents in the United States on espionage charges.
Alongside their violent terror attacks, the regime has coordinated an extensive misinformation campaign against the MEK. Recent hit pieces against the MEK have appeared in the Guardian, Al Jazeera, MSNBC, and Channel 4.
The response has been somewhat muted. Following the attempted attack on the MEK’s Grand Gathering in June, the French government expelled diplomats and froze MOIS assets. However, few countries have followed suit, making Albania’s decision a landmark moment.
Many observers attribute this surge in state-sponsored violence against political dissidents to a decades-long policy of appeasement towards the Iranian regime from Western governments. “In their view, the current EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and her colleagues are responsible for this emerging threat to [the] EU’s security”, the Alarabiya piece states.
The Alarabiya piece asserts that the US government could force Europe’s governments to adopt a tougher stance by designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the MOIS as terrorist organizations. “This is what the Iranian people, dissidents and dozens of prominent Western politicians ask and call for”, the piece concludes.