Albania: Tensions between the US and Iran threaten hopes for a nuclear deal

Albania: Tensions between the US and Iran threaten hopes for a nuclear deal

The Albanian authorities foiled a second cyber attack over the weekend (September 10-11). After receiving pledges of support and fresh sanctions against Iran from the US, Tirana severed all diplomatic ties with Tehran, which it blames “Sabotage”.

At the same time, hopes of a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal continue to wane, expressed by major European countries “serious doubts” about Iran’s intentions.

The latest attack in Albania comes just days after Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama accused Iran of being behind a July 15 cyberattack.

This resulted in all government websites and digital services for citizens being taken offline and was dubbed a “destructive” from microsoft.

The prime minister ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave the country within 24 hours and severed all diplomatic ties with immediate effect.

Mr Rama said on Saturday (September 10) that the country’s Border Management Information System (TIMS) was under review “new cyber attack by the same attackers”. The next day, he announced on social media that the systems were back up and running.

“Aside from the heavy feeling of hacking into these systems, like breaking into a house and stealing, the fact that the attack didn’t achieve its purpose at all is not a disappearance or serious data leak! ». Mr. Rama wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

Those who attempted to use the TIMS system, which registers all arrivals and departures, were confronted with a corresponding message “Albania is still paying for the terrorist attacks by the PMOI sect in Durrës; this game continues. »

Albania is home to the PMOI (People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran), which was relocated to Albania in 2016 from an Iraqi refugee camp.

Founded in 1965, the group engaged in militant actions against the Iranian government for decades before forging an alliance with Iraq and siding with it during the Iraq-Iran War.

The PMOI group was previously classified as a terrorist organization by the EU, Canada, the United States and Japan, but this classification has been revoked. In 2004, the US government granted them the protection of the Geneva Convention.

Its members, whose goal is to overthrow the Iranian government, number 1,000 and live in a closed and heavily guarded compound 40 kilometers from Tirana.

However, according to some analysts, Albania is not under attack only because of the presence of the PMOI group. In fact, Albania is staunchly pro-American, being a member of NATO of which it hosts an air base and possibly a future naval base.

A new NATO naval base opens in Albania

The transformation of an Albanian port on the Adriatic coast into a NATO naval base will be the focus of talks between North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama during a bilateral meeting this week.

To be alert

Lawyer and politician Kreshnik Spahiu told Euronews Albania that the government as it is should be vigilant against attacks “in direct war with Iran. »

“Albania must be very well equipped militarily, also with the secret services, but also as a society for further attacks, which will no longer take place on the Internet and in social networks, but [provoqueront] Consequences and physical sacrifices”he explained.

The US National Security Council also responded to the latest news of the attack and said it supports Albania’s recovery efforts.

“The United States condemns the September 9 cyber attack on our NATO ally Albania. This malicious activity against Albania follows the Iranian government’s July 15 cyberattack. The US government supports Albania’s efforts to mitigate and recover from this attack.”we can read in a press release posted on Twitter.

The US government on Friday (September 9) imposed sanctions on Iran’s Intelligence and Security Ministry and its minister Esmail Khatib for cybercrime-related activities against the United States and its allies, after announcing a White House statement “additional measures”.

Albanian Civil Aviation Authority director Maksim Et’hemaj said the attack was sabotage and called for a crisis coordination committee to be set up.

“In civil aviation, what happened to the TIMS system is by definition classified as sabotage. In this case, in the event of sabotage, civil aviation asks the local authorities to set up a so-called crisis coordination committee.”he told Euronews Albania.

However, Albania is not the only country to have fallen victim to such attacks. Computer services in Kosovo and North Macedonia have also been targeted in recent days without anyone knowing who the culprit is.

troll factory

Furthermore, in March 2021, the PMOI group was accused by Facebook of a “troll factory” – that is, an organized group of internet trolls aimed at interfering with opinions and political decisions – from their base in Albania.

The social network Facebook said in a statement published on its website that it had conducted an investigation and stopped it “Long-term operation conducted from Albania and primarily targeting Iran”.

“The network has violated our policy against foreign interference, which constitutes coordinated inauthentic conduct on behalf of a foreign entity.”write in your detailed report.

The latest escalation comes amid increasingly faint hopes of a revival of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed in 2015 and eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and re-imposed sanctions.

Momentum for the new EU-brokered deal, which seemed to be unfolding earlier this month, appears to have waned since then. Germany, France and Great Britain issued a joint statement on Saturday “serious doubts” on Iran’s sincerity in restoring the deal.

European nations blamed Tehran “because he chose not to take this crucial diplomatic opportunity,” The addition“Instead, Iran is escalating its nuclear program far beyond any plausible civilian justification.”. The Iranian Foreign Ministry criticized the comments and called them “not constructive”reports AFP.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrived in Germany on Sunday to persuade western powers to abandon the fragile deal altogether.

Reference: www.euractiv.fr

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