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Fri, 06 Dec 2019 02:51 GMT

Ashraf-3 Albania: Iranian Opposition’s New Stronghold in Europe


7Dnews London - Abdelsatar Hetieta

Fri, 19 Jul 2019 03:13 GMT

Albania has clearly decided to play an active role in the crisis between Iran and the West, after it housed 3,000 members of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (MEK), Iran’s biggest political opposition organisation, which aims mainly at overthrowing the current regime.

The Iranian opposition figures in Albania are hosted by the Ashraf-3 community, the MEK’s newly-built headquarters in the European nation. Ashraf-3 is located between the Albanian capital Tirana and the Adriatic coast. For more than a year, Albania has been receiving MEK members who had lived in Iraq since the early 1980s.

In an interview with 7DNnews, Fatmir Mediu, an Albanian politician who served as minister of defence from 2005 to 2008, said that his country was not afraid of welcoming MEK and that it had taken the necessary precautions. Referring to the US-EU conflict over Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal, Mediu said that everyone knew the deal had to be reworked.

Mediu, who chairs the national Conservative Republican Party of Albania said that Albanian intelligence had uncovered an Iranian plot for a terrorist attack on Ashraf-3 last year. As a result, the Albanian government had decided to expel the Iranian ambassador, he said.

There is an attempt by some media outlets to launch a campaign against those residing in Ashraf-3 in Albania, Mediu said. “That is why we are standing with the Albanian government. We are stating clearly that we want to help MEK members against any new threat endangering their lives. We believe that every citizen in the world deserves democracy and freedom.

“They are living on Albanian soil, and we consider them to be Albanian citizens,” Mediu said, wanting members of MEK in Albania to enjoy the same security and freedom as the Albanian government provides for its own citizens.

Mediu said that the US-EU conflict was based on two issues; firstly, how to tackle the nuclear question, and secondly, how to deal with the developments of the situation in the Gulf region. The EU should deal with Iran in the same way as Trump’s administration, he said.

The former Albanian minister participated in a big ceremony that took place between Wednesday July 10th and Sunday July 14th in Ashraf-3, along with dozens of US and EU officials. He also chanted “hazer” with the western officials, which is translated as “I am ready,” a motto of the Iranian resistance.

The Ashraf-3 community has been named after Ashraf Rajavi who was killed along with a number of MEK officials by the Iranian regime in 1981.

MEK’s media official Mehdi Akbae told 7DNews that the organisation had been in danger from the Iranian regime’s supporters when its headquarters was in Iraq after the former Iraqi regime was overthrown in 2003, but now the work of the MEK would be doubled. He added that the new headquarters in Albania had enhanced the spirit of enthusiasm inside the organisation to continue protests in Iran until the regime is brought down.

Moussa Afshar, a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) told 7DNews that the Iranian regime had become worse than ever, adding that more pressure needed to be applied.

Maryam Rajavi, leader of the MEK, said that Ashraf-3 is tasked with addressing Tehran, adding that strong public protest was taking place inside Iran in response to “a regime that does not accept change and does not fall willingly.”

Relations between Tehran and Washington took a turn for the worse in May 2018, when President Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal reached before he took office and reimposed sanctions.

Under the 2015 atomic accord, Iran agreed to enrich uranium to no more than 3.67% fissile material, which is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels.

However, the UN nuclear watchdog policing the deal told member states in a closed-door meeting on July 10th that Iran is enriching uranium to 4.5% fissile purity, diplomats familiar with the figures said, according to Reuters.

Earlier the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran was over the 3.67% limit. It also said on July 10th that Iran's stock of enriched uranium was now 213.5 kg, over the deal's 202.8 kg limit, and more than the 205 kg verified on July 1st .

Earlier before the IAEA’s remarks, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran will suffer more sanctions in the event of increasing its uranium enrichment in contravention of the nuclear deal brokered in 2015.

Middle East