Albania is becoming a popular destination for senior political figures from America. In May, Mike Pompeo, the 70th US Secretary of State, travelled to Albania to visit Ashraf-3, headquarters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the main organized Iranian opposition and principal member of the democratic coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI). Ashraf-3 has been home to 3,000 MEK members since 2016, when they had to flee persecution in Iraq. The former Secretary of State’s trip to the MEK compound in Albania was followed on 23rd June by a momentous visit by Mike Pence, the 48th US Vice President. The former Vice President and his wife Karen were welcomed by Mrs Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the NCRI. His bombshell visit will have come as a body-blow to the theocratic and fundamentalist fascist regime who have oppressed Iran’s 80 million population for more than four decades.

Addressing the 3,000 MEK resistance leaders in Ashraf-3, Mike Pence said: “It's a privilege for us to be here in the home of thousands of courageous Iranian men and women. A home of peace and prosperity. A home of hope for a free and democratic Iran. You know I've travelled more than 5,000 miles from my home in Indiana to be here today because we share one common cause: the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic Iran.” Turning his attention to the president of the Islamic Republic – Ebrahim Raisi - the former Vice President continued: “Ebrahim Raisi is unworthy of leading the great people of Iran. He must be removed from office by the people of Iran, and he must be prosecuted for the crimes against humanity and genocide that he perpetrated 30 years ago and every day since.” 

Mike Pence was referring to Raisi’s key role in the 1988 massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners, mostly young members, or supporters of the MEK. Last year, Raisi was shoe-horned into the office of president by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in the hope that his hard-line reputation as an executioner would terrify the rebellious population into submission. It has backfired spectacularly, with mass protests occurring every day in towns and cities across Iran, where crowds can be heard to chant “Death to Raisi, death to Khamenei.”

Mike Pence said: “The resistance movement in Iran has never been stronger. It's been inspiring for me to learn today even more resistance units in Iran are the centre of hope for the Iranian people, an engine for change from within during the uprisings and continued protests. And every day it's clear they're growing stronger while the regime grows weaker.” Echoing similar sentiments expressed by Mike Pompeo during his visit to Ashraf-3, Mike Pence said: “A renewed Iran nuclear deal won't benefit the people of Iran in any way. It will merely empower and enrich a corrupt regime that has tormented and tortured the Iranian people for generations. Today, we call on the Biden administration to immediately withdraw from all nuclear negotiations with Tehran, voice support for the organized opposition in Iran, and make it clear that America and our allies will never permit the regime in Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon.”

Responding to the address, Mrs Maryam Rajavi said: “The MEK was the first to expose the regime’s nuclear projects since 1991. In 2002, it uncovered the regime’s secret sites and informed the world of its bomb‐making program. Without those revelations, the mullahs would have obtained the bomb years ago. The world is witnessing that conditions are ripe for change in Iran and that people are ready for change. Protests are erupting with increasing intensity across the country. On the other hand, the regime has no answer except stepping up repression, executions, or torture in its prisons. The people of Iran have the right to resist, much like the war of independence in America. The mullahs have occupied our country. People now chant, “Our enemy is right here; they lie when they say it’s America.” 

Criticizing appeasers in the West, Mrs Rajavi continued: “Today, the world clearly sees that the policy of appeasement of the mullahs has failed. This is a regime that gives a bomb to its diplomat to blow up the gathering of the Iranian resistance where hundreds of distinguished international personalities were present.” The NCRI president-elect was referring to a joint operation in June 2018 involving police, judicial and security authorities from Germany, France, and Belgium, who arrested three would-be bombers and an Iranian diplomat, Assadollah Assadi, who had given his colleagues a bomb and instructed them to detonate it at a major Iranian opposition rally near Paris. Assadi and his co-conspirators are now serving long jail terms for terrorist offences. Indeed, the creation of Ahraf-3 in Albania also attracted attempted acts of terror by the Iranian regime. In December 2018, the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, expelled Iran’s ambassador and first Secretary on the grounds that they posed a security risk to Albania. They had been openly plotting assassination and terror activities targeting the 3,000 MEK opposition members.

Mike Pence assured his MEK audience in Ashraf-3 that Mrs Rajavi's 10-point plan for a free and democratic Iran is the only way forward for that country’s beleaguered citizens. The plan calls for the formation of a republic based on the separation of religion from the state, pluralism, and the stated freedoms in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The 10-point plan has been welcomed by ordinary Iranians and enjoys the support of a wide range of parliaments and prominent personalities in Europe and the United States. The former Vice President concluded: “Let me thank Maryam Rajavi and all of those gathered here at Ashraf 3 for offering hope to your people in Iran. Your Resistance Units, commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen is a vision for a free Iran and an inspiration to the world. Maryam Rajavi's Ten Point Plan for the future of Iran will ensure the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly, freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders. It's a foundation on which to build the future of a free Iran.”