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On Saturday, December 23rd, Albanian President Ilir Meta stated his support for the recent expulsion of Iranian regime diplomats from his country. Meta said that the regime’s ambassador and the head of Tehran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security branch in Albania’s activities posed a threat to national security and that their expulsion was necessary.
Albanian Interior Minister Sandër Lleshaj also spoke about the expulsion of the regime diplomats in an interview on the same day.
He said, “The Iranian regime is recognized as the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
He added, “The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) has been threatened in other countries. This is a method used by the Iranian regime’s security agents under the cover of diplomats. We don’t consider the PMOI/MEK as a threat to Albania’s security. This is the position of the Albanian government, police and security officials. Our viewpoint about the PMOI/MEK is without any bias or prejudice. They are friends that have been welcomed to reside in Albania and this has nothing to do with their political activities.”
Support from Opposition
According to Albania Daily News, Lulzim Basha, Albanian Democratic Party leader and head of the opposition, also expressed support for the expulsion of the Iranian regime diplomats, citing national security concerns.
“On behalf of the Democratic Party and the Albanian opposition, I express my support for the government’s decision to announce Iranian diplomats as unwanted elements and back measures to see to their expulsion,” he said. “They carried out activities in violation of their ‘diplomatic status’ and endangered our national security. The Democratic Party considers governmental national security infrastructures, ongoing commitments and honest cooperation with our allies as the only solution to prevent and neutralize such measures on the soil of the Republic of Albania.”
On Wednesday, December 19th, Albania’s Foreign Ministry announced that it had expelled Iran’s ambassador to Albania and an unnamed diplomat for “damaging its national security.”
Support from United States
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has been a longtime supporter of the MEK, was the first public figure to express support for Albania’s decision, tweeting on Wednesday afternoon:
“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.”
U.S. President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama thanking him for “standing up to Iran.” He wrote:
“Thank you for your steadfast efforts to stand up to Iran and to counter its destabilizing activities and efforts to silence dissidents around the globe. The leadership you have shown by expelling Iran’s Ambassador to your country exemplifies our joint efforts to show the Iranian government that its terrorist activities in Europe and around the world will have severe consequences.”
#Iran@SecPompeo Call With #Albani'an Foreign Minister @ditmirbushati "to commend the Albanian government for expelling two Iranian officials, including the Iranian Ambassador to Albania"#BlackListMOIS#ExpelIranDiplomatTerroristshttps://t.co/cXNsXqVYeX (from @StateDept)
— Hamid Azimi (@no2censorship) December 21, 2018
The Iranian regime has been directly implicated in a number of foiled terrorist plots against the MEK this year. Since the MEK relocated its residence to Albania, its members have been under constant threat by regime terrorists. In March 2018, a terrorist plot by regime agents against a MEK Nowruz celebration in Albania was foiled.