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Iran Cheers Albania’s Raid on Exiled MEK Group, Wants More

TEHRAN — Iranian officials have in the past week have cheered an Albanian police raid on the dissident Iranian group Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).  

In the chaotic raid in a Tirana suburb last Tuesday, the MEK said that at least one of its members had died while scores more were injured after inhaling pepper spray. It slammed the police raid as a “criminal onslaught.” 

The Albanian Interior Ministry, however, said that the group had violated the humanitarian terms under which it had been granted asylum in 2014. 

“We hope the Albanian government will take the practical and responsible step against the group of the hypocrites,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said at a news conference on Monday, repeating a pejorative term that Iranian authorities commonly use to discredit the group rather than the actual title.  

Demanding legal action against the MEK, Kanaani told Albanian authorities that the group will continue to pose threats to their host nations, according to a report by the Tasnim News Agency.  

Founded on a fusion of socialist and Islamist tenets, the MEK was an integral contributor to the 1979 revolution that overthrew Iran’s Pahlavi monarchy and established the present Islamic Republic. Still, as with a host of other forces involved in the revolution, the organization was sidelined and persecuted by the clerical state. The MEK took up arms, and continued the struggle in varying forms from exile in neighboring Iraq and even after relocation to Albania. 

A 1988 failed incursion from Iran’s western borders to overthrow the Islamic Republic triggered an execution spree against the MEK’s jailed members. As many as 5,000 dissidents were rushed to the gallows in one summer, with their bodies buried in unmarked graves in what has been labeled by Amnesty International as “a crime against humanity.” 

At the Tehran presser, the Iranian spokesman said the MEK remained a “terrorist organization with an established criminal record against Iranian and Iraqi peoples.” The group was long listed by the United States as a foreign terrorist organization before its removal in 2012. It was a “questionable and politically motivated decision,” Kanaani said, adding that Tehran expects all MEK-harboring countries to come down hard on its members.  

Yet the latest pressure on the group did not begin with the Albania raid. In a sudden announcement last Monday, French authorities banned a planned annual MEK convention, which has traditionally been held in Paris. French officials cited risks of “disturbances to the public order due to the geopolitical context.”  

The MEK alleged that the decision was the outcome of a “shameful collusion” between Paris and the Islamic Republic, and it condemned the French authorities for surrendering to “the fascist theocracy that is ruling Iran.”

Source : Al Monitor