On Tuesday, the European Union sent a message to Iran by imposing the first sanctions since the nuclear deal was signed in 2015. The EU announced that it will blacklist and freeze the assets of an Iranian intelligence (MOIS) unit and two of its staff for planning two political assassinations in Netherlands and for plotting attacks in Denmark and France.
The first attack occurred in June, at the annual gathering in Paris of the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). The French Government said the attack was planned by a now sanctioned MOIS unit. Then, last November, Denmark’s security service and police stopped a plot by the MOIS to assassinate an Iranian dissident on Danish soil.
On Twitter, US Secretary of State wrote, “European nations sent Iran a clear message that terrorism will not be tolerated. The US strongly supports the new sanctions and stands with our European allies as we counter this common threat.”
Not only the 28 EU member states, but Albania, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Canada have cut diplomatic ties with the regime in order to protect their citizens. In fact, senior American officials praised Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama’s decision to expel the Iranian Ambassador and another diplomat weeks ago, for threatening the country’s security.
The MEK members relocated to Tirana after leaving Iraq under the supervision of the UN. The regime in Tehran sees the group as a threat to its existence. At a Persian New Year celebration on March 22, 2018, two Iranian operatives were arrested in Tirana on charges of plotting a terrorist attack against thousands members of the Iranian dissident group. This highlights the extent to which senior regime officials are frightened by the activity of the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
Also taking to Twitter, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attacked the EU, writing, “Europeans, incl (including) Denmark, Holland and France, harbor MEK.” This is an allegation Zarif also made during the UN Security Council’s meeting over Iran’s missile program in December last year. Pundits believe that such statements against the opposition only serve to point out the group’s political clout. The Iranian opposition successfully inspires and leads popular protests against the regime inside the country.
Maryam Rajavi, the President-electe of the NCRI welcomed EU’s decision. However, according to Mrs. Rajavi, the imposed sanctions are not enough to stop the MOIS. She called on International Community to list the entire MOIS as a terrorist entity. She also said that she believes sanctions are necessary to fight terrorism in Europe in a tweet, “…they must be completed by blacklisting of the entire intelligence and IRGC (Revolutionary Guard) apparatus and by prosecuting and expelling the regime’s terrorist diplomats and mercenaries.”
The Europeans should keep in mind Rouhani’s recent threat that “the EU will be flooded by drugs and terrorism,” as well as the fact that the MOIS gains experience from its failures in Europe, and future plots may not be so successfully foiled by European security.