London, 20 Dec - Albania has expelled the Iranian ambassador and another diplomat for “damaging its national security”, according to a statement by the foreign ministry on Wednesday.
The Foreign Ministry did not identify the individuals by name, say when they had been expelled, or if they had left the country, but did explain that they had consulted other members of NATO in this decision.
Of course, Iran refused to accept that its actions, specifically an attempted terror attack in Albania earlier this year, was the reason for the decision and instead blamed Israel and the United States.
On Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “I believe that this is a step aimed at harming Iran’s ties with Europe at such a sensitive time. Obviously, this is a measure which has been taken under Israel and America’s pressure... We expect Albania to respect its own independence.”
While it is true that US views Iran as being run by a dangerous dictatorship and has taken steps against the mullahs this year, notably its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal and subsequent reimposition of sanctions, there is no evidence that it has influenced Albania’s decision in any way.
It’s worth noting that the European Union, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China are still a party to the deal and are trying to find ways to circumvent US sanctions and still trade with Iran, which is why Iran is so scared of a rift between themselves and Europe. But, if Iran was so wary of European support for the deal, then why would they attempt at least three terror attacks in Europe in 2018. Indeed, it seems like the rest of Europe should follow Albania’s laudable move and expel the Iranian diplomats who help organise these plots.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted: “I commend PM Edi Rama’s expulsion of two Iranian agents who plotted terrorist attacks in Albania. European nations have thwarted three Iranian plots this year alone. The world must stand together to sanction Iran’s theocracy until it changes its destructive behaviour.”
While US national security adviser John Bolton tweeted his support for Albania’s decision, explaining that Prime Minister Edi Rama was sending a firm message to the Iranian mullahs that “their support for terrorism will not be tolerated”.
He tweeted: “We stand with PM Rama and the Albanian people as they stand up to Iran’s reckless behaviour in Europe and across the globe.”