Iran decries Albania’s move to snap diplomatic ties


Iran on Wednesday decried a decision by Albania to sever diplomatic relations with Tehran as “ill-considered” and “short-sighted”, denying involvement in a July cyberattack targeting the European country.

In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani termed the Albanian government’s move as “short-sighted in international relations.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Tirana decided to snap diplomatic ties with Iran and ordered Iranian diplomats and embassy staff to leave the country within 24 hours.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said the decision to sever ties “with immediate effect” was taken after an investigation into an alleged cyberattack in July, blaming it on Iran.

“This extreme response … is fully proportionate to the gravity and risk of the cyberattack that threatened to paralyze public services, erase digital systems and hack into state records, steal government intranet electronic communication and stir chaos and insecurity in the country,” Rama said.

The major cyberattack on July 15 brought many Albanian government websites to a grinding halt.

Rama called it “state aggression” and said an investigation found that the attack was “orchestrated and sponsored by the Islamic Republic of Iran” with involvement of “four groups.”

The US also blamed Iran for the July 15 cyberattack and hacking operations against Albania.

US National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in a statement on Wednesday they will take “further action to hold Iran accountable for actions that threaten the security of a US ally.”

Kanaani, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless,” saying Tehran has “principled positions” in the area of cyberspace, and the country has itself been a “target” of cyberattacks.

He went on to attribute the allegations leveled by the Albanian authorities against Iran to “third parties” in an oblique reference to the US and Israel.

The spokesman said the prompt statement from the US and its coverage in the Israeli media showed the “existence of a pre-designed plan to create a political atmosphere against Iran.”

Kanaani also referred to Albania hosting an anti-Iranian dissident group called Mujahideen e Khalq (MEK), which Tehran accuses of carrying out terrorist acts inside Iran.

Albania, a member of the NATO alliance, is home to about 3,000 members of the MEK who live at Ashraf 3 camp in Manez, 30 kilometers west of the capital Tirana.

It has created deep fissures in relations between the two countries, with Tirana declaring Iranian diplomats “persona non grata” on many occasions in the past as well.

The MEK members fled Iran after the 1979 revolution and took refuge in France, followed by Iraq and then Albania. The group was on the list of “terrorist organizations” of the US and EU for many years.



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