“The public image of the group is dubbed as being anti-nuclear policy, supporting gender equality and enhancing the democratic process for Iranians which are key points in the anti-Iran policy by the United States,” said Suddaf Chaudry.
The following is the full transcript of the interview:
Balkans Post: In a recent article published on the Middle East Eye, you raised doubts over whether an Iranian cell actually planned attacks on the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Could you explain why the Albanian government would make up such a story?
Suddaf Chaudry: The Albanian government has been under significant U.S. pressure to assist in the safety of MEK members. There has been much speculation regarding the surveillance by Iran on MEK members. Therefore if the Albanian authorities wanted to publicly address the reason for this alleged plot it is heavily centered on U.S. direction. I contacted the Albanian police many times to discuss the alleged investigation, however, no statement or comment was given. Therefore, as there were no arrest warrants for the accused, and no evidence released to substantiate the claims, doubts remain.
BP: Do you believe that Albania is being drawn into the United States’ fight with Iran?
Suddaf Chaudry: The relationship between Albania and the United States has gone from dumping ground during Guantanamo to a considered ally in their current quest in the fight against Iran. The considered ally is based upon Albania being a focal point in the tensions between Iran, Israel and the United States due to Hezbollah footprint in the region.
There has been significant censorship on MEK operations. Their presence has caused considerable challenge due to their criminal activities which are not being investigated in great detail. Iranian communities in Albania such as the Bektashi community have complained of having to sever ties with Iran and also not being allowed to invite Shia religious scholars to their homeland. Therefore, it seems the application of pressure by the United States is being exerted much more strategically in order to successfully continue their hawkish support to the MEK which is fundamentally anti-regime. If Albania does not exercise authority in response to the growing demands by the United States, the question of Albanian leverage will hang in the balance if a crisis occurs.
BP: As you mentioned in your article, the MEK has become a favorite of anti-Iran hawks in the U.S. and Europe who see it as a weapon against the government in Tehran. What’s the significance of the MEK in Western powers’ anti-Iran campaign?
Suddaf Chaudry: The MEK is a key component in delivering the anti-Iran policy because it has successfully rebranded itself as a democratic outfit that intends to deliver the liberal Iran message. The departure from the cultish terrorist organization has been effective through support from key American hawks such as John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani who have described the MEK “as a ready to go alternative” if the regime in Iran crumbles. The public image of the group is dubbed as being anti-nuclear policy, supporting gender equality and enhancing the democratic process for Iranians which are key points in the anti-Iran policy by the United States.
However, the group is shrouded in secrecy with respect to their ideological base, therefore, it lacks transparency but it is still heavily supported in the West. However, Western backers should start to address key concerns of those that oppose the MEK such as the violent treatment of dissidents, and communist leaning that opposes free market options. Currently, these issues are being sidelined. At its current standing, the MEK is simply not a mature democratic institution which is able to support Western programs of regime change.
BP: How has the presence of the MEK affected Albania’s stability?
Suddaf Chaudry: Analysts have dubbed the presence of MEK as increasing tensions in the region due to its role in the U.S. and Israeli policy in overthrowing Iran which has been instrumental. Albania is facing significant challenges in its membership to the EU, the skepticism by the EU in this young nation’s ability to operate as an independent state that is working to serve underground agendas will only increase. Therefore, if the MEK enters the corruption process in the country and the Albanian government is unable to exercise authority, tensions in the region could heighten.
Suddaf Chaudry is a freelance Journalist and writer covering the Middle East and South Asia